Sadashi Inuzuka

Last fall for the first time in my life I was admitted to the hospital, the University hospital here in Ann Arbor. Up to now I had never had a serious illness. Though I broke my bones several times and had to see the eye doctor often while growing up I have never been admitted to the hospital.


It was an amazing experience while I was in bed at the hospital. Care, attention, sympathy and of course the professionalism of the doctors, nurses and other staff. Almost frightening, but I started thinking about wanting to stay there for a while not because of the illness but because of the peace I felt in my mind. I did not think about my work, students, even my family. The focus was on myself, nothing more, and to think about my life. This made me feel good and guilty at the same time.


I swallowed many different shapes of pills everyday. I can’t even remember which was for what. I used to try not to take any medication at all but here I was taking them by the handful. Maybe my sweet and little sour thoughts were the side effect of the medication. I felt like I was dreaming though I did not sleep well at the hospital listening to  the growing sound from a suffering patient who shared the room with me. Yet it felt so good to rest my mind. When I get well I might want to come back here for a rest. Silly thoughts but I really felt so.


When I returned home and was enjoying being with my family again I realized how much I appreciate everything I have and the things I take for granted, family, job, friends and much more. I feel this experience must be a gift from above. To understand and to have empathy with people who are ill. In this way I am lucky. From time to time I remember the feeling I had in the bed at the hospital. A little sweet a little sour.


Several weeks later I received the first bill from the hospital. When I opened the envelope I thought I had misread the number. That one single treatment at the hospital was the cost of our small car! But next to the total the words “insurance pending” and a 0 and I gave a huge sigh of relief. I have had several of those treatments since, many lab tests, 23 bills and more to come. So far the hospital bills add up to the value of the little house we have.


Thankfully, we are covered by the university healthcare insurance but I cannot help thinking about people who are not covered. What if I am not teaching at the university, and we are not covered at all? We would lose everything, not only things we possess but also the spirit to fight against the illness I have. I am so lucky but I feel the pain for the many people who do not have insurance in this country. Nonetheless, I really appreciate the care I am receiving at the University of Michigan Hospital, and I will never again take for granted health or care.


photo of my arm with infusion needle