Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The rest of the story...

It wasn't all fun and games in Japan....

When we arrived in Osaka, we were greeted by three of our four hiking companions. The fourth person, Sheila, we learned was in the hospital. Just after passing through immigration, she dropped to the floor unconscious and was not breathing. Fortunately she was with her sister, an emergency room nurse, who was just about to begin CPR when Sheila began breathing again. Emergency people descended on them immediately and whisked them both to a nearby hospital emergency room where Sheila experienced cardiac arrest several times. There is a very long story behind the event that I won't tell here: the bottom line was that she spent 4 days in the hospital and a pacemaker was installed. The medical care she received was excellent and people were very kind to her....few people spoke English and working through the logistics was difficult. Sheila and her sister did not join us on the Nakasendo Way as Sheila was too fragile - they did stay in Japan for a week and a half, seeing sights around Osaka and then they joined us in Tokyo for the last part of our tour.

These two women are really troopers, making the best out of a horrible situation. We all learned a few things about health and travel. Richard and I have been very nonchalant about this subject but now will add travel insurance to our list of musts before we embark on another adventure (Tibet - in August). Sheila had plenty of medical coverage but the tour itself was non-refundable as were several hotel rooms and touring charges in Kyoto. Being careful about who is notified in case of emergency was another wake-up call. If your bank, lawyer or financial advisor is notified, in these days, the first thought is that a scam is underway. Another bit of advice is to notify the American Embassy via the STEP program (you can do it online) when you're traveling out of the country.

"The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens/nationals who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.
STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate."

There are many things to be thankful for regarding this situation. Had Sheila experienced cardiac arrest in her own home, as she lives alone, she might have died. Her medical care was so good in Japan, that she declared that if she had to pick a place for this experience, she'd pick Osaka airport again. 

Happy ending....

Happy sisters with cherry blossoms


  1. Wow! What a lot of lessons here!
    So glad it was a happy ending. I wonder what would have happened if she had had the attack here?

  2. If she'd had it at home, she probably wouldn't have made survived. She's doing very well now and will resume hiking as soon as her cardiologist releases her. She's braver than me....I'd be much slower to get moving again.