Go to Part I…
So two weeks has passed since my unfortunate week when I injured my ankle and got bitten by a dog. That first week, I spent a lot of my time on my bed, and took up to 15 minutes to limp to class (which normally takes me a little more than 5 minutes). During that week, some random students have asked me if I needed rides, and my friends had been very accommodating, offering their help. The events of this past week have made me realize how nice people can be.
The Phone Call
Last Friday, I received a phone call from an unknown number. I answered, “Hello?” Soon the voice on the other end replied,”Hello, is this Benjamin?” It was a very familiar voice. It turned out to be Dr. Yoshida, the Interim Dean of Basic Sciences of our school. She had just called because she heard from around the school that I had injured my foot and wanted to personally ask if everything was ok. She asked me if I had seen the doctor already. I’m a person who tends to seek another person’s help only until last minute, including the doctor’s, so I told her that I was going to wait a little bit longer until next week to see if my foot would become better. She was a little concerned with my answer, since it has already been a week since my injury, and eventually convinced me to go see the doctor that day, insisting on offering me a ride. That Friday afternoon, Dr. Yoshida picked me up and took me to the Mullet Bay Medical Clinic, the closest clinic to AUC, just on the other side of the golf course.
Maho Medical Clinic
Dr. Deketh, the family physician from the Netherlands who runs the clinic, was very nice and professional. He has much experience in working with AUC students. As it is abnormal for a one-week injury to be as swollen and painful as it was, the doctor wrote a request for an x-ray and wrapped my foot in bandage. As the St. Maarten hospital was busy that Friday night, I decided to go the next morning. As the school’s insurance plan, Nagico, applies for emergencies only, I paid in cash. The office visit only cost a mere $30, much cheaper than the cheapest clinics I’ve seen in the states. The lady at the front desk said I could probably get most of it reimbursed by Nagico. I have not been able to confirm this yet, since I haven’t had a chance to visit the Nagico office in Philipsburg yet. But $30 for one visit? Why can’t groceries, restaurants, rent, and most other things on this island be as cheap as the medical care?
X-Rays and Tetanus Shot
The next morning, Dr. Yoshida came and picked me up from my apartment and drove me to the Emergency Department at the St. Maarten Medical Center in Cay Hill. It is a small hospital, but it has most things a general hospital would have, including specialists in Anaesthesiology, OBGYN, Radiology, Orthopedics, and Dermatology. That morning, there was hardly any patients at the hospital, so I did not have to wait long to see the doctor (and the AUC student who was shadowing her) . The x-ray technician took x-rays of all three sides of my ankle. Fortunately, the doctor told me there were no signs of any fractures, torn ligaments or torn tendons (at least no complete tears). It will just take a few more weeks for my foot to completely heel. The nurse wrapped my foot and I was good to go. It was great news for me.
I also told the doctor about my dog bite. As St. Maarten is one of the few places in the world that is rabies free, with strict vaccination requirements for all domesticated animals entering the country, the doctor didn’t feel that there was much risk of me contracting rabies. The last case of rabies, she said, was eradicated 75 years ago. From what several of my friends here told me, airport officials will not let your pet leave your country to go to St. Maarten without a document showing a recent rabies vaccination for your pet. Although the risk of rabies on the island is close to zero, there is still a slight risk of tetanus, so the nurse gave me a tetanus vaccine then and there. The school’s mandatory student health insurance plan covered the expenses beyond the $250 deductible.
How Nice People Can Be
After we left the hospital, Dr. Yoshida took me out for breakfast and to go grocery shopping, as I had not been able to do so the week before because of my injury. I had a wonderful conversation with her and really enjoyed hearing her story and learning about our school. Knowing how busy she is, being the Dean of Basic Sciences, Professor, and four other titles, it means a lot to me that someone in her position would go out of her way to dedicate her Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to help a regular student like me. It’s amazing how someone can be so selfless and generous and I do not know how to thank her more. This is what I mean by the “intimate environment” here at AUC. It is people like Dr. Yoshida who make me love it here at AUC and my experience as a medical student. The close interaction among the students, professors, and administrators here really make this place feel like home.
Today, two weeks after the injury, I am walking normally again. I am no longer limping, and the edema is now only on part of my ankle. I still cannot run or invert my foot to its original extent, but that will recover with time. For now, I am just glad to be able to do most of my normal activities again. Although the doctor assured me the risk of rabies is nearly zero here on the island, there is a part of me that still worries, especially since I have not seen the dog or its owner since. In hindsight, I should have questioned the owner about his dog’s vaccination or at least get his contact information to follow up on the state of his dog’s health over the next 10 days when rabies symptoms will show up in a dog. I’m just hoping one day I will see that same person walking the dog again and see that it is still healthy. If it is still alive, then I am still alive, and I need to be alive to help keep others alive in the future.