Don’t Get Sick/Injured in Japan – Reloaded
One of these days, I’ll learn to take my own advice.
If it were up to me, I would never set foot in a Japanese hospital, ever again. Didn’t matter what ailed me, it could be a head cold, or I could be missing an entire limb. Just give me a Band-Aid and some Bufferin and I’ll be good to go. And that’s not just tough guy talk – I fear that going to a Japanese hospital would put me in a worse state than before I went. If I went for a missing limb, I’d come out with cancer.
Unfortunately, as it turns out my wife is a major worry wart. So whenever the smallest little health concern comes up, her immediate and unwavering response is “you need to go to the hospital!” My fear of contracting the Ebola Virus from a Japanese hospital aside, as I’m unemployed I don’t have health insurance at the moment, so a trip to the hospital will set me back about $100. I always find it amazing that my wife, who is usually a penny-pincher in every other way, is so nonchalant when it comes to the hospital…
Me: Say, let’s eat out tonight!
Her: We don’t have the money for that…
Me: C’mon, we don’t have to go to a fancy place, at most $10-15 per person.
Her: If we can afford to spend that, then we should keep it and save it for an emergency.
Her: Oh no, is that a cold? You should go to the hospital!
Me: I’m fine, I don’t need to go.
Her: But you should, just in case! You never know, it could turn into something serious.
Me: I’m fine. And besides that, we don’t have money for the hospital.
Her: Sure we do! I’ll pay for it! Just go!
Me: …..Can we stop at a nice restaurant on the way?
Her: We don’t have the money for that!
If only the hospitals served a nice steak or something…
Anyway, a few weeks ago I developed a painful swollen something-or-the-other on the back of my left leg, just below my ass. It seemed sort of like a spider-bite, but in all honestly I don’t know what happened. The wonderful location made it a bit uncomfortable to sit, so after a few days I popped it open and drained as much blood and pus out of it as I could (hope nobody was eating while reading this…). It still remained fairly swollen and painful, so at my wife’s urging I went to the hospital to get it looked at (*cash register sound here* there’s $100 gone…). If it had been a poisonous spider, I guess it would have been prudent to get the venom drained or something.
I went, but all they really did was further drain the blood and pus. This reduced the swelling, and I felt great…for a day or so. But then the swelling came back with a vengeance. It blistered up even bigger than it was before. Again, at the wife’s urging I made another trip to the hospital (*cash register sound* that makes $200…).
Now, with all previous attempts to drain it having failed, the Japanese doctor turned to the next logical step – to just remove the whole damn thing.
At the time, I didn’t know what was going on. Again, remember that this wonderful little bundle of despair and death was located on the back of my leg, just under my ass. I’m pretty sure that this is an area of my body I’ve never, ever seen in my life. What occasion would I have to want to look back there? I felt a sharp, piercing pain at first, which I assumed to be just cutting open a hole for more drainage, but after that it didn’t really hurt at all. Afterwards, the doctor used a laser to “seal the hole” as she put it, and at the time I recalled smelling a distinct smoky barbecue smell. Like baby back ribs or a tender sirloin. I know now that that was my own flesh.
And no, I don’t know why I’m apparently so delicious. Good news – if any of you happen to be trapped with me in some sort of desperate, life-threatening situation – say stranded on a freezing mountain or stuck in the desert with no sign of civilization in sight – and you’re forced to do the unthinkable, the in-human act of actually eating me to stay alive – well, at least you will be in for a good meal.
After the doctor finished up, the nurse – a cute young Japanese girl (aren’t they always?) began explaining the details of the situation to me. “Now, you have a hole in your leg…” she says, and tries to show me with her hands the size of the hole. However, just one hand is insufficient, so she has to use both hands to illustrate the size of the new crater in my leg. “Because of the difficult location, you’re going to have to have your wife take care of disinfecting it and applying gauze daily.”
I’m not sure why, perhaps they slipped me some wicked painkillers when I wasn’t looking or something, but the nurse’s explanation didn’t really register with me. Even when they slapped a diaper-sized grip of gauze on my leg, I didn’t really think anything major had happened back there. More than anything, I was kinda hungry for some juicy prime rib.
Later that night, I was having my wife take care of the wound as instructed. She removed the gauze…and nearly fainted. “Have you seen what your leg looks like?” she asks, while trying to resist the urge to vomit. Why no, that particular area of real estate just happens to be outside the area of my brain’s Google Maps. She gets me a mirror, and for the first time I’m allowed to see for myself what’s going on back there.
It really was a hole in my leg.
It was roughly the size of one of those small Haagen-Daas ice cream containers. For those who lack perspective, let me put it this way – upon seeing this chasm in my leg, I could clearly picture the Roadrunner and Wil E. Coyote running down my ass, with the Roadrunner stopping abruptly before the hole and Wil E. running past it. Wil E. stops, defies gravity for a few moments as he realizes he’s no longer on terra firma, silently holds up a sign illustrating just how fucked he is, then drops down the hole for a few seconds, complete with the “THUD!” and small puff of smoke at the bottom.
Literally, it was a hole in the back of my leg.
“Is this something doctors are supposed to do?!” The wife asks, shocked. I too am a little taken aback my having a new Grand Canyon carved out below my ass, so when the wife insists I go to a late-night emergency room (*cash register sound* $300…), I don’t put up a fight.
We arrived a little after 3AM. Luckily, there weren’t too many people there, so I was seen fairly quickly. The on-call doctor was a young guy who looked like he was fresh out of med school. The wife explained the situation, and upon showing him the leg his response was “Yup…that’s a hole all right.”
Thank you, Detective Holmes.
Remember back in the Octopus entry when I said that doctors in Japan only specialize in one part of the body, and are completely ignorant about every other part? Well, I dunno what this guy specialized in, but apparently holes in the back on one’s ass was not it. He looked at it and commented on how beautifully it had been lasered-off, but couldn’t really offer an opinion as to whether or not this was a viable treatment. Luckily though, the doctor who did specialize in holes in the ass – or whatever it is that you need to specialize in for this – had just arrived at the hospital and was on duty. He called her over to look at my leg, and her reaction was very, very casual. “What, this? Oh, this is a very common treatment procedure! This is completely fine.” Her tone was as if to say “Why did you even bother coming in here at 3 in the morning for?”
Well, if I cannot go to the hospital for a gaping hole in my leg…then what can I go for?
The hole has since mostly healed (the human body really is something, isn’t it?); its mostly filled in and doesn’t hurt at all anymore. It will probably leave a decent scar though, which will serve as a constant reminder to never trust Japanese doctors, and what started out as a simple insect bite may eventually turn into a hole in your leg and a $300 hole in the bankbook.
If only I could see it.