We had only two full days left of our frantic but inspired vacation in Tokyo, Japan. This morning we planned to head out on a one-hour train ride from Ekoda, (where we had rented a room for the week) to Kamakura, a foray out of the city, to a tranquil coastal town.
Our minds eagerly anticipated the quietude, but our bodies were dehydrated and experiencing circadian confusion. Upon leaving the train, Dennis (my husband) began feeling queasy and having discomfort in his left flank. We started walking, this was an exciting place… and maybe he could walk it off and save the day.
He started feeling weak and we sat for a glass of iced tea in a Japanese garden restaurant. When I again looked, he was sweating profusely, and his coloring was ashen… he said the pain was severe radiating to his belly button and he couldn’t walk any further.
I went to find the fellow who had served me the iced tea, finding it hard to think of what to do. If I were back home, having been a nurse and no stranger to family medical events, I would have known where to call and where to go. Now, I didn’t know the language, or the train schedule or how to find or evaluate a hospital. I was on the verge of panic…
I’ve got to say all the people we met in Japan were eager to help, patient and competent… so helpful and genuine, and we were so fortunate to meet many of them in our travels (especially in train stations). Our young barista was one, he gave me his name as Guy (many of the Japanese people, I’d learned, gave English speakers names we can pronounce; similar to their real name, but not as challenging for us). Guy called a cab and checked on us every so often while we waited. He got us both a glass of water and that really helped Dennis, as it turned out that was exactly what Dennis needed and he drank mine as well. When our driver arrived, Guy told him our circumstance and that we needed a ride to the closest hospital, he also told him what to tell hospital staff when we arrived.
It was Sunday and we embarked on the only road leading out of town in stop and go traffic. The driver told us that many hospitals are closed on Sunday, so I got in touch with GeoBlue and they called a hospital that was open and had English speaking and Western medicine practitioners. Mary at GeoBlue arranged payment with the hospital… it would take 30 minutes to get there by cab and they knew we were coming. We always get travel insurance with GeoBlue before leaving the USA.
At first, at admission, the language barrier was challenging, but once I wrote down GeoBlue and the phone number and told them they had a call from them we were coming, things became much less frightening. We were interviewed by an English-speaking nurse and Dennis ended up getting an MRI which showed he had a kidney stone. Fluids were consumed in massive quantities and he was given some medication for pain and in a few hours, he was feeling much better. All the medical expense was covered. We never worried about that, we each had 1 million in coverage with no copays or deductibles at a cost of$143 for both.
We caught a bus right outside the hospital (perfect timing) to head back to the train station and the dinner we had planned for that evening with our son and his girlfriend.
We must have again looked confused in the train station, because we were soon approached by a sweet woman, Hideko, was her name and she told us of a fast train that we could take and cut 20 minutes off our return to EKoda, she gave us detailed instructions for an extraordinary ride. We could sit on the higher level of the train for more sights. She told us to wait for the train that left at 4:18 and we would need to swipe our Suica Card cover the extra faire. We didn’t understand all that she told us but decided to make sure we took the later train and then play it by ear.
As we sat on the bench waiting for the next train, who do we see but Hideko. She had decided to follow us and make sure we understood, she seemed to feel awkward in her concern for us. She said she was going to Europe with her husband and daughter in a few weeks and hoped someone would show them kindness in their travels. We were happy to we got a chance to sit with her and told her what had happened to us and how we had visited Shonan Kamakura General Hospital, and how much her kindness and help had meant to us. She told us it was the hospital her family went to and it was a very good and renowned hospital. Our train came and we said goodbye. I took a picture of her and blew her a kiss from the train. I hoped my gesture would keep her heart wide to the kindness and care she was sure to experience in her travels.
We are sure to return to Japan, and take GeoBlue with us.