Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Turkish never prepared me for a trip to the emergency room.

But I’m sure the ice pack on my forehead and the bandaged wounds on my arms was enough evidence that I needed immediate assistance.

All I could really sputter out was “Mutfakta, bir kapi camli var. (In the kitchen, there’s a glass door.) Then, I turned to charades. My husband showed a picture on my cell phone of the earlier accident. I didn’t even know the Turkish word for accident.

The staff at the American Hospital in Istanbul quickly rushed me into a room and had me lie down on a gurney. (If we were in America, I probably would have waited forever just to get into a room.) My husband handed off my passport and insurance card. I just laid there stiff as a board in fear of moving, covered in a crisp white sheet.

Was there still glass in my arms? I wondered.

My head and nose felt like someone had solidly punched me in the face.

On Monday night, I was in the salon working on the computer while I waited for my apple tarts to finish baking. The kitchen timer for my tarts went off so I rushed into the kitchen.

In reality, I rushed straight into these stupid sliding glass doors that separate the kitchen from the salon. One of the tempered glass panels shattered when I hit the door. I stood there stunned as the glass shards fell around me. My arms were outstretched with blood dripping down and tiny pieces of glass were embedded in my arms.

My husband turned off the timer, pulled the tarts out the oven per my request, ran back to me and had me sit down away from the crunching sound of glass.

The next 30 minutes were a bit of blur as my husband carefully rinsed my arms off in the bathroom sink to get rid of the glass and blood, and I held an ice pack to my badly bruised nose and forehead. Our apartment building’s security guys rang our doorbell to see if we were alright. Jason fumbled around in Turkish and told them we had to go the hospital. They surveyed the scene and let us go.

Soon, we grabbed our Turkish dictionary, a water bottle and my passport and were out the door. Luckily, the American Hospital is only a short 5-minute drive away from our apartment.

At the hospital, the staff members were quick, efficient and kind to me. The Turkish doctor who saw me spoke English. They cleaned and bandaged my wounds. The doctor told me I was very lucky the door was tempered glass or my cuts would’ve been a lot worse. I didn’t need any stiches, just several butterfly bandages and normal Band-Aids.

However, my throbbing nose was another story. Apparently, it took the brunt of the crash.

A friendly Turkish staff member wheeled me in the x-ray room. The x-rays showed my nose was fractured. This is the first broken bone I’ve ever had in 36 years.

The doctor called the plastic surgeon. It was nearly 1 a.m., but the surgeon came anyway – all the way from the Asian side. (Again, this would never happen in America, I thought.)

When he arrived, he ordered a CT scan for my head to see how badly the nose was fractured. I didn’t have a concussion either. Later, he reported I may need surgery next week, but to see him for a follow up visit on Thursday (tomorrow).

Despite my injuries, I was surprised and impressed by the whole process in the emergency room at the American Hospital. Everyone was helpful and compassionate.

Sometimes there was a slight language barrier, but not anything we couldn’t figure out or muddle through. The doctor and the plastic surgeon spoke English and made us feel at ease.

If you ever happen to get injured in Istanbul, the American Hospital is the place to be.

Back home, I’ve been recuperating with an ice pack on my nose and simply resting. I’ve been going nonstop for the past eight weeks. Maybe this whole unfortunate accident was a sign that I should slow down. I guess I don’t really have a choice for the next week or so.

At least, I was fortunate enough to have a husband that saved my apple tarts and me in the process.

Have you ever been to a hospital while living or traveling in a foreign country?
This is what the glass door looked like after I crashed into it in our apartment.

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Moe said...

Gecmis olsun!! That must have been so scary!

I've gone to the hospital quite a few times here (for some reason I never got sick in the US and now every cold, flu or bug hits me hard) and recently for a surgery. I was at Acibadem, but I felt the whole time that they were wonderful, professional and going above and beyond what I would expect out of hospital in the US. I was in the lap of luxury and paid a 1/10 out of pocket what it would have cost me in the states.

Mrs Ergül said...

Oh my god. I'm glad you are still well and kicking! Is that the other half still-intact glass door? It sure looks transparent! I hope you recover real soon. In the meantime, enjoy taking things slow.

Cuisine de Provence said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Joy said...

@Moe, thanks, it was scary but I think I was more in shock than anything. I don't deal well with blood and I freeze. I aso was surprised at the cost so far. Replacing the door will probably cost more than the hospital bills!

@Mrs Ergül and Barbara, thank you! Yes, the other half of the door is still intact. When the other one gets replaced, I going to tape brightly colored decals all over it so this never happens again! ;-)

BacktoBodrum said...

Poor you. Glad to hear the hospital treatment stands up in comparison with the US system.

Unknown said...

Oh goodness! Quick recovery Joy.

Joy said...

@BacktoBodrum and Julia, thank you! Honestly, I think the American Hospital was one of the best I've ever been to. Luckily, I haven't had many hospital experiences though either.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

oh no joy! i am so glad to hear you were not injured worse than you are. i have seen so many people injured by walking into glass doors. thankfully i have never had to go to a hospital outside of the country. my experience at the emergency last spring when i severed my thumb is the last ER visit i hope to ever have.

Picnicfan said...

Sorry to hear about your accident. Years ago my husband also tried to walk through the glass doors leading to the balcony and was rushed to hospital with a few bad cuts. I wish you a speedy recovery.

Sue Narayan said...

There's something about Istanbul -- and living so close to other fabulous countries -- that makes us go, go, go nonstop. It's mostly good, but it's also useful to slow down . . . as your experience reminds us.

Hope every day finds you better and better!

Joy said...

@Joyce, Oh, yes, I remember your bad thumb accident. And you were still cooking like every day it seemed like afterwards. I hope it was the last time for you and for me too. :)

@Picnicfan, Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure you were freaked out as well when it happened.

@Sue, Yes, we all need reminders now and then to slow down. Wish my reminder wasn't as big as this one was though. :-(

Manya said...

Joy, I am so sorry this happened! But very glad you had a good hospital experience. I work in a hospital here in the US and yes, your treatment would have been less prompt, and incredibly more expensive. I unfortunately have needed medical care abroad: in Bulgaria (- good experience in a "Euroclinic") and for a serious shoulder fracture in Romania (abysmal experience). Turkish health care overall has a great reputation, although like Canada, you sometimes have to wait for elective procedures. I do appreciate your recommendation of the
American Hospital in Istanbul -I am often there and might need a hospital visit someday! heal quickly and keep baking for us and spreading your Turkish joy. love to you from Oregon. Mary B

tasteofbeirut said...

So sorry you have experienced this! We have had a few similar close calls here with a sliding door , not fun!
Glad you made it fine though, being in a hospital in a foreign place can be scary too!

Anonymous said...

Joy - so glad it wasn't worse (though bad enough!)and that you are recuperating as well as possible. so happy to hear you had such a good experience at the hospital. take care. Becky and Jeff

Joy said...

@Mary B, Luckily, we haven't had any other accidents while traveling. I sure you just kinda roll the dice on whether you will get good service or not. Yes, overall, Turkey seems to have a really good medical system. I love the fact that I can walk into any pharmacy and explain what my symtoms are and get meds over the counter. I baked some biscotti today for the coffeeshop in between my nose icings.

@tasteofbeirut, thanks! Glass doors are dangerous! :-)

@Becky and Jeff, thanks for thinking of me! Yes, things could've been much worse so I'm thankful for everything. Hoping the ice helps, but my right arm looks like I got attacked by an animal, unfortunately.

Julia said...

Well we've been lucky enough never to need a hospital visit while we've been in Turkey but we have a couple of places here that are allegedly very good. Glad your hospital experience was so good but not so glad about the preceding events that forced you to have to go in the first place!! Hope you get better soon, Joy. Just think of all that blogging you can catch up on. ;) xx

Sarah Ager said...

Oh my word! That sounds horrific! I hope you're all back to normal soon. I'm so glad you're injuries weren't worse than they could have been.

Anonymous said...

Gecmis Olsun. That sounds really scary. Glad to hear that you are recovering and that the apple tarts were rescued as well.

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

Dear Joy, cok cok gecmis olsun, what a bummer :( on a positive side so glad the hospital experience was a happy one and you are treated well and on time, so glad. I hope you can chill out and rest - and how I wished to be nearby with a bowl of soup and a chat!! hopefully in February!
take care : ) xxx Ozlem

Unknown said...

I just found your blog as I am flying to Istanbul on Saturday. It's my first trip and I am very excited. But so sorry to hear of your accident. Going to an ER anywhere is stressful. It's happened to me on vacation in San Francisco as well as at home in Chicago and it is very upsetting. I hope you are feeling better and am glad to hear that you received such good care at the hospital.

Joy said...

@Julia, you guys are very lucky! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. And one positive thing from all this is time at home to work on my writing and sorting through so many photos. :)

@SaritaAgerman, omentide and Ozlem, Çok teşekkürler! The doc told me today that I am healing well. Still not sure if they will need to do surgery though. Counting my blessings!

@Unknown, well, I hope you enjoy your trip in Istanbul and thanks for stopping by! It's a fantastic culturally and historically rich city.

Unknown said...

Hi Joy,

That sounds horrible - I hope you are feeling better and recovering. Gecmis olsun!

For a fan in Lawrence, KS

Joy said...

@Turklish, thanks for the kind thoughts! Doing much better a week later, but nose still hurts a bit. Not sure if you knew or not but I lived in Lawrence, KS, for nearly 5 years many moons ago it seems like. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Hi again Joy, I saw that you worked for the LJW for a while. I hope you enjoyed your time in Lawrence! It's probably hard to compare it to all the exciting places you've lived since... I'm ready to make the move from Ks to Istanbul in the next couple years. Inşallah!

orfeusaz said...

Hello Joy,
First of all çok geçmiş olsun!
I have just come acrossed your blog on afriend's FB wall and very much enjoyed while reading. Your writing and living style is inspiring me lots:)I see you have already been in Kusadasi but if you come to Kusadasi again or neighbouring, we may arrange one baking class, why not?

Hopefully, you will not need to have a surgery for your noise. By the way I had a car accident in Canada last year and it was first time in my life to have been hit by a car and after all a broken wrist. Terrible but I treated very kindly in the hospital as well.

Joy said...

@Turklish, I have many fond memories of Free State beer, sunflowers blooming and the art scene in Lawrence. You never forget where you come from, but I enjoy living in big cities much better.

@orfeusaz, Well, happy you found my page too, and thanks for the kind thoughts! My nose is still a bit sore, but the doc doesn't think I need surgery. Thank goodness!

No travel plans right now, but if we head back down to the Kusadasi area, I'll look you up. There are so many areas to explore in Turkey. We've got more to see. ;-)

Deborah Nelson said...

I had to laugh out loud at your story...not because of your painful experience but I have been to the ER several times in my many years of visiting Turkey! From passing kidney stones in Antalya, to a Motorcyle accident in Alanya to a flu-bug in Fethiye....I have been introduced to the medical field in Turkey. And as an American, I could not help but compare prices and service. Turkey is definately lower on their prices and they were very, very professional and I did have good care! NOTE: always buy travel insurance as primary and pray!!!! :)

Joy said...

@Deborah, thanks for sharing your stories! I was always pleased with my care at both the American and German hospitals in Istanbul. I don't think a plastic surgeon would have been summoned at 1 in the morning if I was somewhere in the US! Maybe, but not likely. I've been very fortunate, and yes, we always buy travelers insurance too bc you never know what could happen!