Saturday, May 15, 2010

Singapore good samaritans and a trip to the emergency room

I thought I was being super careful riding my bicycle home in the evenings - but not careful enough. On the final leg of my journey last evening, I was steering around a middle aged pedestrian lady when I skidded, lost my balance, hit a guardrail and fell with a crash! When I attempted to pop up, apologize, say “I’m just fine” and resume my journey, I realized I wasn’t just fine - my right arm had no motor power. The encounter had dislocated my shoulder.

“What do you want to do?,” the pedestrian lady asked in a concerned voice. She was soon joined by a young Indian man who turned out to be an engineering Ph.D. student at NUS. We eventually decided to walk the mile or so to the Kent Vale security office to seek help and advice. Fortunately, my other extremities were functioning normally, though I was feeling shaky and, of course, totally stupid for my carelessness in having such a fall. The good news was how compassionate and helpful my two samaritans and, when we reached our destination, my friends at the security check point were.

I decided to taxi to the emergency room of nearby University Hospital and over my assurances that I could manage, the Indian student insisted on coming along. There I got another taste of Singaporean efficiency. Thanks to my employment pass and “i-Medicare” card, paperwork took less than five minutes, with my Indian friend completing a few details as I was wheeled to the waiting area. I was triaged and assigned a queue number. Almost everything in Singapore has a queue number, with numbers flashing on electronic screens. Wait time was 10-15 minutes but seemed longer as my shoulder was becoming quite painful. But this provided time to learn about my new friend’s Ph.D studies and dissertation topic.

The rest was simple. Dr. Chang, a nice woman in her 40s said that indeed my shoulder was dislocated but ‘popping it back in’ would be no problem. She gave me an IV and I soon became unconscious. When I awoke, my shoulder was back in place and my arm was immobilized in a sling. By now it was 1 AM. I was ready to pick up pain pills at the pharmacy and go home. Again, this took less than 5 minutes. My samaritan friend, who had spent more than three hours caring for me and waiting firmly refused my offer of taxi fare and walked into the night. The next morning he called to see how I was doing and offered to buy groceries. I will certainly taking him out for a great Indian dinner. I also received a call from the hospital, scheduling an orthopedic appointment for wednesday afternoon and giving me the doctor’s name.

Given the choice, I might not have chosen this opportunity to learn about Singapore’s emergency medical care system, however I am glad to have had it and especially to have been cared for with such consideration by two passing strangers. For those readers who might be inclined to worry, I am doing just fine. Typing with one hand can be a bit slow and living alone with one arm immobilized has it challenges, however. These will be reminders when I next venture out on my bicycle. When passing a pedestrian, I will get off and walk.



Blogger Shinjinee said...

John, sorry to hear about your accident, but glad to hear that good samaritans took care of you, and that you are mostly OK. Take care

2:16 AM  
Blogger Khileen said...

I am glad that you are okay and that people stopped to help you.

2:22 PM  
Blogger pragzz said...

Such a wonderful story. I just moved here and find Singapore to be a bit 'cold' and unfriendly. This one warmed my heart!

12:40 AM  

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