You’re probably thinking based on the title of this post that I slipped in a snow storm, but you would be mistaken. It definitely was snowing when I slipped, but rather embarrassingly I was actually inside my apartment. You see, last weekend, Fukuoka received a cold snap and a large amount of snow which is rare for this region. I was safe in my bed asleep when the majority of it fell. However, some time between 4 AM and daybreak, I really needed to use the restroom. All this trying to stay hydrated in winter stuff really comes back to bite you. So I quickly got out of bed, neglected to put slippers onto my socked feet, and made my way down the stairs of my loft apartment. Ok, so you see where this is going right? It’s cold, my feet are slippery, and I have wood stairs to get down. I made it down most of them, but on the last four or so, I slipped way more than can be easily corrected and landed on my right side. I initially thought the pain was just temporary; it would bruise like when you hit your leg on a low table and that would be it. But of course it didn’t. I still really needed to use the restroom, so I awkwardly sat on my porcelain throne while moaning and whimpering like lost puppy. I attempted to go back to sleep, but could not get at all comfortable. Somehow though, my determination to get my beauty rest paid off, and I got a few more hours of sleep.
In the morning, IT WAS SNOWING! My balcony was solid white, and everything was glowing. So naturally I continued to ignore the pain, because a Southern girl needs to enjoy the snow while it lasts. My mom wanted to see it as well, so I video called her. I told her about my fall and being the good mother she is, she said, “Why haven’t you gone to the hospital!?”
Anyway, I left my place to go get some soy milk, because that’s how much I care about Sunday morning cereal and how little I care about bodily pain. Two minutes into my walk, I could not breathe, and I was literally doubling over in pain, clutching my swollen elbow under my chest to support my surely cracked ribs. Luckily, I live a mere five minutes from a huge Red Cross hospital. I passed the path to the supermarket (breakfast can wait, I guess) and found the emergency center at the hospital.
I’m an American, if you didn’t know. We don’t just waltz up to the emergency room on a holiday so nonchalant. It’s so expensive, people don’t go unless it’s a life-threatening situation. At least not in my family. So as soon as the nurse sat me down to wait, I started freaking out about the price. I was in pain, okay? I wasn’t thinking about that fact that Japan has pretty great national health care, and that I’ve never paid more than $50 for anything medical related here. Still, I was freaking out. I asked a group of other people who live in Japan online if they have experience with emergency situations, and they all assured me it would not be too expensive even if I did need X-rays and medication. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I only had 5000 yen on me, which is less than $50.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, the doctor called me in to talk and look at my elbow. He wasn’t really concerned with my rib cage though, even though I was convinced I had a bruised lung or something. So he said they’ll take some x-rays and see what they can do.
I waited in that waiting room for two hours watching the news freak out about the snow. Everything was cancelled. Trains, buses, freeways were closed for the day. Some other people in the waiting room were trying to get home and had to wait 30 minutes for a taxi because the taxi companies were all that busy. Like most of Texas, Kyushu, Japan can not function if fluffy white stuff falls from the sky.
Eventually the x-ray man came to get me, and they took two scans of my elbow and two of my rib cage. All of them hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and I felt so stupid when they asked if I fell down stairs because they were frozen, and I had to tell them I fell in my not frozen apartment. Pain and humiliation complement each other so well. Throw in missing an amazing opportunity to make snow angels, and you have a very sad Kori.
After the x-rays, I was out in about 20-30 minutes. The doctor said nothing was majorly broken, but it’s hard to see hairline fractures or cracks in the chest area, so he sent me away with some pain meds and told me to come back if everything still hurts in two weeks. “But sir, I can’t breathe.” “Oh,” he said, “you’ll be fine. It’s just swollen and painful now. Come back if it feels worse.”
Once everything was over, I got nervous again because I’d have to settle the bill. The receptionist called my name and said….”It’s 4300 yen.” Thank you all that is good. So I got my pain pills and left the hospital. At this point, I was starving, so little broken me still went to the supermarket with 700 yen in pocket. I had to have my soy milk! My huge bowl of Cocoa Krispies and a long nap made everything better.
If you are wondering, I am fine! My elbow only hurts occasionally and isn’t swollen at all anymore. I still can’t sleep properly because of my ribs, but they’ll heal in time. I’m just so satisfied with the insurance system in Japan. In America, injuring yourself can be such a nightmare, because on top of all of your pain, your wallet hurts too. But in Japan, you can go to the ER, get x-rays done, and get two weeks of medication for under $50. Tis a great country indeed!