August 2, 2008

Our Introduction To The Japanese Health Care System

Today was another hot, but beautiful day in Kobe. Over the last month, Mike has spent a number of weekend hours exploring the Kobe area off Rokko Island by bike. So we decided to give it a shot today as a family. We biked over the Rokko Island bridge and up into Sumiyoshi where we kicked off our shoes and waded in the waters of the Sumiyoshigawa (River). It was great exercise and a super family trip all at the same time.

As usual (in Japan anyway), Lauren rode on the back of Ilena's bike. Unfortunately, our day came to a screeching halt on our way out of Sumiyoshi when Lauren's foot got stuck inside the back wheel of the bicycle, massively bruising and mangling her ankle and foot. It was awful. While Ilena held Lauren in her arms, a Japanese man on crutches came by to observe what the screaming was about. He left a moment later. Mike went off with Jacob to buy some bandages and other "fixins." A few minutes later, the man on crutches returned with a package of bandages which he handed to us. Stunning - isn't it? Talk about being a good citizen; the Japanese could teach Americans a few things.

Eventually, we all made it back to our apartment on Rokko Island - Ilena and Lauren took the train back from where we were. Lauren's foot was getting more swollen by the minute and it was clear that she needed some medical attention (beyond what Ilena was able to offer with her "mommy nursing"). We happen to live within a three minute walk of Rokko Island Hospital. But prior to today, we had heard that they don't deal well with English speakers or with children. We felt doomed, but had no choice. We walked over, signed in at the front of the Emergency Room, and had a seat to wait. Within two minutes, we were called in to the exam room and seen by a very nice Japanese physician who spoke English quite well. He cleaned, and redressed Lauren's wound and sent us off to X-ray. His impression was that there was likely a fracture. Right down the hall, Lauren had 4 quick X-rays and was back to the emergency waiting area. Five more minutes and the report was in. No fracture, but a very bad sprained ankle. She was soft-casted from the knee down, we were given discharge instructions and sent on our way.

(Walking to the cashier, we had no idea what to expect. We certainly had received a lot of medical care in a very short period. Much to our surprise, the bill came to 2310 Yen, about $23 - not bad. In fact, bizarrely inexpensive considering that you can't even buy a whole watermelon over here for 2300 Yen!) And it is also led us to think about how the U.S. could use a big-time reexamination of its health care system. Back home, we would have been sitting in an average U.S. emergency room for at least 6 hours to receive this kind of treatment, and we would then likely be sent a bill for $500-$1000 for similar care.)

Once home, Ilena and Lauren decided to lay low for the rest of the day (not like there was any choice). What a mortifying experience as a parent; but Lauren has been such a trooper. We are praying that she heals up quickly...

Mike had previously promised Jacob that they would take in some fireworks in Kobe that night. And Jacob needs to go-go-go. (And he was a really terrific and caring big brother today.) So, Mike and Jacob headed out to Harborland for a Kobe Festival and evening fireworks. Thousands upon thousands of yukata-clad crowded into the Meriken Park and Harborland area for the fireworks and the usual matsuri carnival food. The fireworks were just over the area that has the quintessential scenic view of Kobe, including the Kobe Port Tower and Oriental Hotel. Jacob and Mike had a really good time.

But we just hope our girl gets better soon!


Lisa said...

so sad! love to all!

Melissa said...

Poor Lauren! I'm sure she'll heal up nicely soon - i think lots of candy and barbies are in order!

Semsavblanc said...

Great to hear of your adventures! Sorry for little Lauren's foot though. Prayers for a quick, full recovery and lots more fun and exploring for all of you.

The Kasdan Family said...

Thank you all for your good wishes!

jackaw said...

ooops! Love to all -- especially to Lauren! Congrats on quick action, quick solution and continued life. Hope there's quick recovery, too. love ya~!