A sharp introduction to Japanese healthcare and some other strange things.

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September 19th 2008
Published: September 23rd 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

Last Friday a friend of ours (from New Zealand) took us out in Nagoya for a night of ‘underground’ music Japan style. (www.sonset-strip.com). Literally underground. In a small basement (just like The Adelphi in Hull for those of you who remember the good old days) we enjoyed a surprisingly good Ska band from NZ. At least, I think it was Ska. I had to ask because I’m approaching 30 and I never really understood these things in the first place. It might have been punk. Anyway, sounded a lot like ‘baggy trousers’. I especially liked the guy with the full tan-coloured body stocking who took to shouting ‘Arigato’ a lot. Like me he seemed to have a dreadful grasp on the local language. There then followed Japanese Elvis. I can’t really add much further explanation to this I’m sure you can see the picture in your head, although I should add that he was probably about 40, severely over-weight and sweating his body weight in water. Not sure what he was singing, it wasn’t ‘blue suede shoes’ that’s for certain. Pre-operation Ian is feeling a bit light-headed by this point so we head for the bar. Then to local Mexican place, then, realising we’ve missed the last train home find the floor of Kiwi flat (she’s a darling) and pass out.

Now I will listen to almost all forms of music. Just to say I have. It is for this reason that on Monday I dragged Ian out to the local schools’ marching band competition. I have to admit I like brass bands. I try to remind Ian of his Yorkshire roots but he just looks angry so I stop. Anyway, one of my school’s, Kasugai -nishi is participating and my supervisor is in charge of them so it’s worth showing an interest. I think I need to provide some background about my supervisor. In Japan the teachers must come to school during the school holidays with two possible exceptions. Either you can take Nenku (up to 21 days paid holiday) or you can take Kenshu (the study at home option). The Kenshu option is the hardest one to understand because it is always given with a nod and a wink that you won’t actually do much studying during that time. But of course you can’t just come out and openly say ‘I did nothing all week’. This relates partially to the whole Japanese idea of there being a disparity between what you really feel and what you reveal and also the idea that you must always give the impression of working even if you are not really working. Anyway, despite these options many Japanese people simply do not take off any of the time they are entitled to. Such is the case with my supervisor who, as far as I’m aware, worked nearly every day of the ‘holidays’ to prepare the students for the marching band competition. The hard work certainly showed. Playing a musical instrument is hard enough but learning to play it and march in formation at the same time must take an incredible amount of time, effort and mental determination. I do hope the students enjoy it, I really do because I can’t imagine they have much time for anything else given the incredibly high expectations that are placed on them. It was sad that the students did not win since it seemed very important to my supervisor that they should win. I can’t really tell if this was pressure she was placing on herself or pressure that was being put on her by the school. Either was I made sure that I told everyone in the staff room how impressed I was with the performance of the school band. I felt very strongly that her efforts should be recognised.

So.... Ian’s Operation

I feel like an awful lot has already been said about Ian’s operation and so if you are reading this blog you’ve probably already heard the horror story through either e mails, Facebook or the Aichi Ajet Forum. In the unlikely event that this is news to you, the long and the short of it is that prior to his operation Ian was given an epidural which failed to take effect and so he endured a two hour operation without pain relief. We have no answers as to why they didn’t either stop the operation or put him under general (like he asked for in the first place) but instead decided to continue cutting him up with him either screaming or nearly biting his top lip off. His hands had gripped the bar on the bed so tightly that he lost all sensation in them and had to have his fingers bent back as they had seemingly been frozen solid. He now his a two inch gaping wound in his body and severe back pain from where the epidural needle went in. He was scared to death throughout and although he’s been really brave about it all he’s clearly going to be a bit of messed up as a result.

This whole experience has opened up some interesting discussion on the Aichi Ajet Forum with people recounting similar experiences, especially in dentistry and child-birth. Anaesthesia just doesn’t seem to matter as much here, if it hasn’t taken effect, for whatever reason, they just stick to the plan and carry on. If we were in the UK we’d almost certainly be taking legal action (assuming we could pay for a lawyer of course) but here it simply isn’t done. It is the Japanese way to shrug and accept that doctor knows best. No one causes a fuss. No one complains. No one speaks out.


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