Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Waiting for Burnt Buns

And so, once again, I am sitting in the waiting room of some medical facility somewhere. Yes, I am most definitely waiting, too. We made the appointment yesterday, and we are listed as number seven, but we've already been here for the better part of an hour with little activity in this crowded, little clinic.

Actually, "clinic" isn't the right word. This place doesn't use the Japanese word iin (normally translated as "clinic"). Instead, it's a "treatment center". It's easy to see why.

This is actually the first time that I've been to this place. In fact, I hadn't even been aware of its existence till two days ago, which is strange. It's right in the middle of what used to be the center of my town, only a few blocks from my son's kindergarten. It's a very new-looking place, and the waiting room still has a faint smell of plaster, varnish, and new paint, but it's apparently quite famous. I've heard that people come all the way up from Tokyo to visit this facility, which explains both the crowded waiting room at such an early hour and the fact that they are the only medical facility I've ever seen in Japan that puts an appointment sign-up list outsideduring its off hours. You see, although the sign on the door indicates typical fare for a clinic (internal medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, gastroenterology), this place's main specialty is burn treatment. The doctor after whom the center is named, a very interesting woman who wears Birkenstocks, is apparently a very reputable burn specialist.

Guess why I'm here. No, it's not for myself. It's for this much smaller and wigglier life form sitting next to me. Allow me to bring you up to date.

A few nights ago my son was next door at my in-laws' house to take his bath. (We all bathe over there since our own house is sadly bathless.) Suddenly, I heard him let off a barrage of piercing shrieks, soon accompanied by my father-in-law's yelling. This is actually not such an uncommon occurrence. You see, my father-in-law has always indulged my son, and if the little whipper-snapper doesn't get what he wants from his grandfather he tends to go into screaming tizzy fits like that. (He doesn't do that around me or his mother, though. He knows better.) It just seemed like same old same old until my son came home and informed me that he had burned his butt.

Before and after my son bathes, he always goes into his grandparents' living room to change because it's warmer in there (and he gets indulged by his doting grandparents). Well, apparently this time he saw the cat sleeping by the oil stove, went over to pet the cat, lost his balance, and wound up sitting on the stove. He was still pantless at the time, too.

From the description my father-in-law gave me later, it was a second-degree burn, but he'd had no idea what to do. He'd broken the blisters (AAAAHHHH!!!!) and put ordinary band-aids on them (DOUBLE AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!). He assured me that it had been "only two tiny, little burns", one on each butt cheek less than one centimeter in diameter, and that they'd been well within the gauze pad on the band-aids. If that was true, they were really not that big a deal, but, frankly, I was afraid to take the band-aids off to look at them. In any case, Taiki went to sleep immediately, so we decided to wait and take him to that burn center the next day.

When the doctor looked at the burns the following morning, she found that my father-in-law's description had been less than accurate. They were each more than four centimeters in diameter, i.e. a high risk of shock, dehydration, and especially infection. Unfortunately, that was also considerably larger than the gauze part of the band-aids, with the result that there was some tearing of flesh, making it even worse. The doctor told us to bring the little boy back in every morning for the next ten days (which matches up with a second opinion I got from American sources on the internet).

Well, that's why we're here today. This is day three, and it's my turn to bring the little guy in.

Considering the size of the crowd in the waiting room and all the people coming in and out of the parking lot, the wait turns out to be not so long. (I LOVE appointments!!!) We go into the treatment room, and I get a good view of what could be called assembly-line medicine. Right now three people are being treated at the same time in there, with the doctor and a whole team of nurses pulling supplies off a very well-stocked and impressive-looking tool bench (for lack of a better term) in the middle of the room. A man in a factory uniform is getting treated for burns covering his entire face and most of his neck. Another man, a burly but likeably friendly sort, is having burns on one arm looked after. A woman is getting care for serious burns covering both her hands. It's pretty amazing watching the team work.

Then it's my son's turn. They pull the curtains shut around him, have him uncover his posterior and lie down, and then they remove the large, gauze bandages they've put on him.

It's not pretty.

They set to work removing the dead skin, disinfecting it, and replacing the bandages. Amazingly, though my son trembles, shuts his eyes, grits his teeth, and hisses, he doesn't let out a peep. That's incredible considering this is the same boy that shrieks like a banshee in heat if he gets a drop of water on his sock. He also acts like he's dying in agony if his sister so much as touches him. Now he is displaying courage, and the nurses are all impressed. (Frankly, I think that explains it all right there. My son, though still in kindergarten, is a notorious flirt, and a couple of those nurses are very pretty.)

Soon it's all done. Happily toting around a lollipop given to him by one of the pretty nurses, my boy follows me back out to the lobby, where I pay the (thankfully very small) bill and make the appointment for the next visit. When we go back to the car for the short trip home, he is all smiles and energy as if we were returning from a school picnic.

Youthful energy is such an enviable thing...but I can do without the burnt buns, thank you!


  • Ack! Ow ow ow ow ow ... I hope he feels better soon. Burns are no fun.


    By Blogger Kami, at 10:08 AM  

  • Each of my daughters broke an arm - one rather seriously requiring surgeries. Comes with the parenting territory I guess. Sorry for your little guy. Burns are the worst to me. I hope he heals quickly.

    He deserves an award for bravery. But he already got a "cat-ass-trophy".
    Lollipops from pretty nurses are good rewards.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:31 AM  

  • Oh man, that has got to hurt, big time. No other cheek was spared. I cringed and frowned as I read your account. That was horrible. My heart sank for him. But I'm glad he has huge courage in him. He's a strong boy no matter how piercing his shrieks are, or how flirty he is with the ladies.

    Does he by any chance look like the adorable Crayon Shin Chan, the mischievously flirty boy, about your son's age?

    By Blogger agus, at 6:30 PM  

  • Having that well medical facilities and pretty Nurses “Treatment Center”, Taiki’s little but will be cured quickly. DON’T WORRY, MM.

    Intriguingly, it’s hard to catch on kid’s psychologies. If the hurt was incurred by them-selves, they wouldn’t cry. My niece and nephew had burned their figures by playing candles. They didn’t cry and shout at that moment and during the treatment.

    By Anonymous L.C_D, at 6:47 PM  

  • Oh, boy! I hope he'll get better soon and your mother-in-law.

    By Anonymous j-apricot, at 9:05 PM  

  • Thank you, everybody! I appreciate your kindness, as always!

    Oh, BTW, Agus, my son doesn't really look like Crayon Shin-chan (although he does kind of act like him). Crayon Shin-chan is purely Japanese, and his drawers draw him that way. My son is half (white) American, and he looks even less Japanese than my daughter. For one thing, he has dark eyes, but his hair is almost blond! ( hair is NOT.)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:35 PM  

  • Oh my gosh! The poor little feller! Burns really suck but they are even worse whem they are on a weight-bearing part of the body. We will send thoughts of quick healing your way.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 11:06 PM  

  • Yeah, poor little fella.
    Hope he's feeling much better.

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 12:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home