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WHEN EAST MEETS WEST: Open Heart Surgery at a Japanese Hospital


Commentary by Hank F. Miller Jr.


(CNBNEWS.NET)During my yearly health check I was diagnosed with aortic valvular stenosis after a 6a00d8341bf7d953ef0133f3d2f7dc970b-800wi heart ultrasound  was performed along with several other test on my heart I was admitted to the hospital to prepare for open heart surgery on February 28, 2011 to March 5, 2011. I was released do to having a cold and I also had a slight fever. 


Note: Hank, (photo), is a former resident of Gloucester City who resides in Kitakyushu City, Japan.

I kept going to the hospital as an out patient to continue the testing; the tests took about two weeks to complete,during that time the test showed that I had  aortic valvular stenosis, valvular heart disease.

 The surgery to replace a diseased aortic valve was performed at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health Hospital, only a 15 minute walk from my home. I was admitted to the hospital again on May 10, more test continued and the surgery was planned and scheduled  to take place  May 13, which happened to be Friday the 13th. Of course it didn't phase me at all, but I did think that this day would be a good luck day instead. I'm not at all superstitious, I'm religious. The surgery was started a 9:00 A.M. and was completed at 5:20 P.M.


The surgeons, other doctors, technicians, and nurses started preparing me for surgery. Many tubes were being prepared to be put into my body for monitoring my vital organs during the surgery when the anesthesiologist, administered anesthetics  and I went to sleep quite quickly. After surgery I woke up at about 10 P.M. in the Intensive Care Unit. I was in full blown pain at the time thus pain injections were administered quickly. I spoke to the nurses and surgeons when they stopped by to see just how I was getting along. I asked for water and they removed three tubes from my throat. After drinking water, I fell asleep again awaking at 910 a.m. Sunday.


They gave me breakfast, I sat up in bed for the first time because it was impossible to eat laying down and I wasn't about to have them feed me. After breakfast I stood up I didn't try to walk I felt so bad at that time.


I still had about 20 monitor tubes stuck various parts of my body. The doctors came and removed most of the tubes to where I could move around a bit in bed. When the surgeons opened my chest before surgery they had to use a bone saw to cut through my rib cage, then after surgery they had to wire each rib bone back together in place and sew up my chest.


I am fortunate that the doctors found this aortic valve stenosis, they only gave me a life expectancy of two to six years if I didn’t have this surgery. They said that now I wouldn't ever have a heart attack and they also said the valve I got implanted is from a "cow yes a cow" This implant should increase my life for at least 15 to 20 more years.


Actually I am enjoying my life and want to live a long life. I have a wonderful support system in my family with my wife, three great kids, two daughter -in -laws and of course my new grandson Kenji Michael Miller in Portland,Oregon.


The complete cost of hospitalization, room, food, nursing care, doctors consultations, all test and the surgery, I.C.U Care, rehab each day for 1 hour per day for 10 days, all medication,and special treatment: room was semi private per day cost (0), food  $6 per day from May 10th to June 1st. The total cost for all treatment everything--came to $400.20 United States dollars.


Here in Japan we have the Japanese National Health insurance Schem. Yes its social medicine.  We have had this Japanese national health insurance system, since we married 31 years ago. We also included all three of our children on the Japanese health insurance also. We have paid about 2000 Japanese yen 

which comes to about $2000 U.S.D. per year. This system covers dental and all hospital and complete medication no matter what.  Not all citizens pay the same monthly payments it depends on their income. Last year we had to pay $2000.300 yen. Our two sons are now in the U.S. Military so we took them off the insurance but now it's only three of us my wife, myself and our daughter.


From now on we'll pay 74.970 Japanese yen= $882.00 U.S.dollars per year. The yen isn't stable, it's up and down day after day. From now on since I was 75 years old on June 27 and also since I have had open heart surgery as a permanent resident of Japan.The government has approved me as being disabled with a number 1 # category. This No. 1#  category will give me the privilege of parking in a disabled parking area free anywhere in Japan, free hospitalization including, surgery, dental and all medications free from now on. Free city bus service using the express freeway 10% discount.  Most hot spring bath resorts and some hotels give 10% off. 


Some domestic air travel 10% off also movie theaters half price off all government services such as sporting facilities, special art galleries. There are so many other reductions that are to numerous to mention that I am covered for.


What more can I ask for? Japanese people are so good and kind to each other and treat you like a human being I feel great having had such humane care and treatment from everyone.


After 34 years living in Japan I suppose one can say that I have been excepted as a good neighbor and have always been treated with respect and show respect in return. I surely wish that in the good old U.S.A. the people could have a choice of the kind of medical health insurance we have here instead of whats available to them. My extended family and many friends back there in Gloucester City NJ and surrounding areas would love to have the opportunity to get this kind of health insurance . Maybe one day it'll become a reality lets hope so.



THE MILLER ENGLISH SCHOOL JAPAN, is still alive and well, also very busy and we enjoy teaching all of our students. Everyone here wants to learn  to speak Gloucester english of course. Do you speak Gloucester ? I have come quite a long way from my boyhood years in Gloucester City New Jersey, which will always be my hometown.


Warm Regards from Kitakyushu City,Japan. I am still with plenty of pain at times and we're into the rainy season and that has given me aggravation and discomfort also.


Hank F. Miller Jr.  


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