Thursday, November 15, 2012

A $2 dollar ambulance

Our ambulance wasn't this fancy
Ooops, I just realized that it's been almost a month since my previous post... To my defense I can say that even though the horrible heat of summer is gone, Japan has now entered the probably worst season of the year; late autumn. This is the time of year when the bugs are all over the place and commuting by train is a surefire way to catch most of them.

After a spending a week in the US East Coast in work (and ruining basically two full weeks due to the extremely painful jetlag that 13hrs time difference gives) I came back just in time for the cold and catching a few of them as well. In turns, the whole Salaryman family has been sick at one point or another and in the fantastic team spirit that we have, we do it in relay form, shipping it forward to the next person to make sure that someone is sick at all times for a little over a month now. Being sick myself is no fun, but on the other hand, having a sick Toddler Sunshine or Baby Salaryman is not much fun either and a sick Mrs. Sunshine leaves the two kids all under my supervision which is almost as exhausting as it is being sick. Most of the times two members of the family have been sick as well...

It started with Toddler Sunshine catching a fever a few weeks ago. The first day she was ok in the morning, although obviously feverish. Mrs. Sunshine took her to the clinic where she received some nice suppositories (glad I don't need those) while I was off to work. During work I get some mails from Mrs. Sunshine with health updates, each getting a little worse than the next as her fever had gone up past 40 degrees. By the end of the day she was getting really worried and was drifting in and out of consciousness. As we both have the view that it's better to call the ambulance one time too many than one time too few she called the ambulance as I was on my way home.

I arrived home just in time for the ambulance arriving and Toddler Sunshine looked alarmingly out of it. The paramedics were great though and took her and me and Mrs. Sunshine with us in the ambulance. Just to embarrass us Toddler Sunshine started coming back to life when in the ambulance, still highly feverish but looking curiously around and responding to us talking to her. After some cursory check-ups the ambulance took off, with the red lights and siren on (giving the Mama Mafia much to speculate on the next day) taking us to the closest hospital with an open pediatric emergency ward. 

As we arrived to the hospital, Toddler Sunshine decided to make us look even more the fools by waking up a bit more and actually giving out a laugh or two between looking sick. The emergency doc checked her up and quickly declared that "this is not an emergency, I'll give her something for the fever but you can go back home". I was slightly annoyed that he didn't run at least a few tests just for the sake of it, but as we were happy to see that she was seemingly getting better we did not push our luck and went out to pay the bill.

I was expecting a hefty sum due to the ambulance, even though the insurance coverage is available in Japan, it does not cover all expenses and it can sometimes be quite costly. However, I was presented with a grand bill of 200 yen ($2 USD) which I paid, thinking that the rest of the cost was being calculated and would be invoiced to us later on or. However when I told Mrs. Sunshine this she matter-of-factly stated that the children's insurance coverage in the area we live cover basically all the cost and the maximum amount that we ever have to pay is 200 yen. 

To me, this has opened up completely new opportunities! Instead of calling a taxi or driving ourselves, we will now try to call an ambulance instead under the pretense that one of the kids are sick and insist on that they take us to a hospital close to where we want to go. I do pay taxes here after all so it should be within my right!
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