Sunday, March 15, 2009

Injured in America, Treated in Japan

About a year and a half ago, I was in the United States, visiting New York City.
Coming out of a store, I stepped off a curb without looking.
This careless move resulted in a complex fracture of my right wrist, and an avulsion fracture of my right ankle.
I was told this when I went to the emergency room there.
That 3-hour visit cost almost three thousand dollars.

I was also told I would need immediate surgery, or I could expect to have a deformed hand -- a hand I may not be able to use again (I am right-handed).
I turned to my husband and said, "Take me home."

"Home" is Japan.
My local national (public) hospital is 10 minutes from my house.
I felt better the minute I got there. The young woman at the information desk is my neighbor's daughter, the orthopedic nurse is the mother of my son's former classmate, in the outpatient clinic we saw a farmer from the village where we used to live -- he tried to give us 'consolation' money ...)
X-rays confirmed that I had a Smith's fracture of the hand, and would need surgery as soon as possible.
I was admitted to the hospital on the spot -- the 3-hour surgery took place two days later.

I was ready to go home after a week, but as I could neither walk nor use my hand, I was kept in the hospital for three weeks.
The doctors said it was for my own "comfort and convenience." They asked me to "please relax, and let the nurses take care of you."
I assured them that I could function in our house without having to go to the second floor.
But they said it would be too difficult for me to get around, get food etc. while my husband was at work every day.
When an American friend asked how did they know that, I told her: "They asked me. They wanted to know where the toilets in my house were located, if there were stairs, would I be able to sleep on the first floor, and if there was another person to be with me throughout the day."

After being released from the hospital, I continued in rehabilitation for almost six months.
Twice a week, I worked with an occupational therapist for one hour on my hand, and one hour with a physical therapist for my leg.
I am happy to report both my hand and leg are back in fine working order!

The bill for all this (3-hour surgery, 3-week hospital stay, 6 months rehab) was about $2000 -- or, less than a few hours in the emergency room in NY.

Karen Hill Anton
Shizuoka, Japan

1 comment:

Natural Nintent said...

I went to a local hospital here in florida, for a thyroid issue, after I told them I had parasites, they literally laughed at me, prescribed thyroid medication and nearly overhydrated me with two drips (I would drink half a gallon of water a day). They were cruel and humiliating. I wish I lived someplace else. Whats worse, they were blatantly that way, whilst appearing middle eastern as well as bragging about it. As if to say, 'look at us, we're middle eastern, look at how evil we are'. For the three day stay, they charged me 10,000 dollars, and I'm still dying. I publicized the dangers and hopefully, helped a few people.