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Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2004


Mosquitoes, surgery and cheap words

More on mozzies

A reader named Rodney was interested in information about "ka" (mosquitoes) in a July column. He says there are few things he hates in this world, even among the insect family, "but I do abhor mosquitoes!" He did some research on mosquito repellents about a year ago and learned that the ingredient most highly recommended for its effectiveness is Deet. "Several Japanese repellants contain Deet," he advises. "If you just ask the chemist, he or she should be able to help you pick one out." In the meantime here is an online gateway to information about Deet and insect repellents: www.mosquito-control-products.com/mosquito-repellent.htm Though everyone in Rodney household swears by Kinkan, and it does seem to do the job very well, personally he prefers a milder, less potent-smelling alternative like witch hazel: www.witchhazel.com/ He uses Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel, available from Sony Plaza stores. "It's good for other things too." Also Aloe is good for the itching. "The Japanese call it 'ishairazu,' and I use it when I get sunburned. But I've found that it promotes healing of various injuries and works on jellyfish stings too."

Another reader, Wes, has heard that eating bananas attracts mosquitoes. I was woken recently by a 6 c.m.-long centipede (mukade) biting my small toe. Despite the pain and swelling, I can verify that Kinkan works wonders in this instance too.


Margaret been housebound since January with a herniated disc. Lumbar 3-4 of her spine are pressing on her sciatic nerve. "I've been to hospital but am not sure if I should get surgery here or back home. I'd prefer endoscopic surgery but I think it's newish here and I don't want to be some surgeon's guinea pig." Ultimately, you have to make your own decision on this. Base your judgment on talking to as many people as possible, including doctors here and in the U.S. If you cannot move around, get friends to rally round and help. Read as much on the subject as possible. You can't go ahead until you are fully informed. If the problem is new, chiropractics can work wonders. But after so many months, there may be too much damage and surgery may be the only answer. It sounds as if you would be more comfortable going back to the U.S. I am told the success rate here is rather low compared to the U.S. and Europe, so best maybe to go with your gut instinct. Check out the private American Clinic ( Japanese insurance -- "hoken" -- not accepted). Fred Shane, MD, has a family practice but offers consultations with known specialists. Call (03) 5549-9983, or e-mail: FIShaneMD@aol.com And explore the Internet. Searching "herniated disc" brings up a wealth of information. Try www.back.com for other patients' stories . . . And good luck.

Cheaper words

Wendy thinks the Japanese thesaurus recommended in a recent coloumn unnecessarily expensive. "A 'ruigojiten' (literally, different types of word dictionary) can be purchased in many different varieties for as little as 2 yen,000-3,000 yen." Noted and thank you.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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