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Doctor knows best?

rant.jpg (29653 bytes)

Illustration by Marie. Email: 

Few would argue that the politeness and helpfulness of our Japanese hosts is mostly unparalleled. Imagine my disappointment, then, when in my hour of greatest need I was let down by the people I thought I could trust the most with my well-being - emergency services. While cycling in Kanagawa Prefecture last fall, I was hit almost head-on by a car. The impact sent me flying across the hood and into the asphalt on the other side face first (teeth second, knee third, shoulder fourth). The people in the car were genuinely concerned about my condition and immediately called an ambulance. Twenty-five minutes (and much blood loss) later, it arrived.

I hoped for a speedy trip to the hospital, but after being stabilized and having my pulse checked, I was subjected to a ten-minute debate by the medics as to which hospital they should take me to. While they debated, I watched a display of my heart rate reaching levels I doubt it could have reached had I pedaled nonstop up Fuji-san. It wasn"t even so much the trauma of the accident as the fear that one of my vital organs would give out before the wheels on the ambulance started rolling. "Ichiban chikai!" (The closest one!) I wanted to shout.

Unfortunately, once I arrived at the hospital nobody was in any hurry to remove the gravel from my face either. While waiting 30 minutes before being taken in for a CAT scan, I used a handkerchief given to me by the woman in the car that hit me to keep my blood from dripping on the shiny white tiles. (At least I can be certain it wasn"t used for blowing her nose.) Another wait followed the CAT scan and then it was time for a slew of X-rays. Only AFTER all this was completed was some attention directed to my face, but, amazingly, it still didn"t get a proper cleaning. I had visions of a scrubbing with wire brushes but only received a bit of topical ointment. A few bandages were wrapped about my face like a mummy, and I was sent on my way.

After being stared at like Quasimodo on the train home, I managed to somewhat properly clean my face. A few days later I felt well enough to make it to an English-speaking doctor, and I received all the treatment I couldn"t believe I didn"t receive at the hospital: a tetanus shot, a proper cleaning, and antibiotics. I will, however, never forget the doctor"s first words after inspecting me: "All we can do now is try to lessen the scarring."

I saw Death that day (He drives a black Toyota), and this time He blinked. I"m sure, however, that He had quite a laugh as my situation unfolded in a manner that seemed destined to produce scars that could leave only the yakuza as possible employers for me in this country.

Many thanks to Richard Cadra for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249