On Falling off your Bike in Japan

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I’m late. I know. I fell off my bike.

I was going to write about being forced to be a tourist in Japan, but I’ll write about that later, because this week I fell of my bike.

I was coming home from work, chipper and happy – ready to do some housework and have a good night. I mean, I was going to have half a day off the next day. However, it started raining, so I started biking faster. I wasn’t looking and then a wild grate appeared. It was recessed, out of its usual resting place, and boom. I hit it. My front tire turned sideways. I stepped down, trying to stop myself, but the force pulled me forward. I fell forward, stiff-armed the ground and rolled, trying to protect my laptop nestled in my backpack.

The first thing I did was rip open my backpack and check. My laptop was safe. However, I noticed that my hand was bleeding pretty good, pockmarked by the uneven pavement. Then I noticed that my arm wasn’t in the mood to bend the whole way. But my laptop was okay. My arm wasn’t going to cost me $1,300 to replace.

So I went home and vowed that if it wasn’t significantly better in the morning I’d have it looked at the next day.

It wasn’t better.

My elbow had swollen pretty nicely and my arm still wouldn’t extend or contract the whole way. So I went to my boss that morning and said, “Wanna go to the hospital?”

He was nonplussed and sent me with the only English speaker in the office. She turned out to be the nicest person ever. Shout out to her.

So we went to the hospital and I got my first real taste of universal healthcare.

In Japan everyone has government healthcare. So, if you’re sick or injured, you’re taken care of. It’s a really good idea, and I’ve never heard anyone say that people shouldn’t have healthcare. However, there are some side effects.

Everyone goes to the doctor because it’s cheap.

We waited for an hour to get an X-ray done that took 5 minutes. I understand some paperwork needed to be done, especially because it was my first time there. However, an hour is a very long time. I personally think it should be tiered based on what you have to do in your day, but that would require more paperwork.

The biggest issue was, it was entirely old people. The people under 70 in the room were me, the Japanese woman who was translating for me, an 8 year old girl and her mother.

According to my translator, it’s very common to see a doctor in Japan and this increases the wait times significantly. Japanese people visit the doctor up to twelve times a year. However, it costs significantly less than in the US. Here’s a chart that shows the amount of money spent vs the average life expectancy at birth.

This seems to be a good indicator of the positives of universal health care. That way the government can set prices on what it will pay, forcing medical companies to back down. Prices for medical procedures are just too much in the US.

Despite that, the X-ray was done and the results were reported. No break; just a sprain. If it didn’t get better soon, I would get an MRI to make sure I didn’t tear a ligament or tendon. The lot cost me less than 20 USD.

The doctor prescribed me some pain medicine and some fancy icy-hot patches that you can’t expose to the sun (or they’ll explode? I’m not really certain). That cost me less than 8 USD.

On top of all that, everyone treats me like a king. I don’t have to wear a tie to work, because I couldn’t tie it if I wanted to, my students aren’t allowed to grab at me, which is great versus the second graders, and teachers dote over me. One bought me an ice cream.

The moral of the story is hurt yourself for free ice cream.



If you follow me on Twitter, Twitter will give you free ice cream.


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