In Stitches

What an embarrassment of riches I have in front of me this evening as I sit here preparing to write the story for next weekend! I have had (and am still having) so many new experiences today that I don't know where to start!

Now that's a fortuitous circumstance, but honestly speaking, I'm not particularly happy about it. Because although all these experiences are new, they are all things that - thank you very much - I would prefer not to know.

The building I am in for a three-day stay is beautiful indeed; clean and bright, with wide hallways and a most pleasant ambiance. The bright winter sunshine is pouring in through huge windows everywhere, including those in my room, from which I can see hawks flying in lazy spirals over the river. And if I had thought to bring my binoculars with me, it should be possible to see my own neighbourhood from here, because when I stand in the upstairs window of my own home, I can see this place from there.

The staff have all been extremely pleasant - mostly quite young women, actually - and that goes quite some way in mitigating the annoyance at finding myself here in the first place.

By now, I suppose you have guessed where I am - it's our local general hospital, of course. And because quite a number of friends and family read these stories, I will clarify right up front that there is no particular concern involved in this stay. There has been no accident, I have no dangerous symptoms, and there is no 'sickness' involved. It's simply that over the past couple of months, I have slowly developed a small hernia in my groin, and the medical advice was clear - get it stitched up before it can develop into a problem.

So my 'perfect' track record of 61 years with no hospitalization - something that I had truly hoped to maintain right to the 'end' - will tonight be broken. I think that if I still lived back in Canada, I might have been able to keep that record in place, because I understand that over there it is possible to have this sort of procedure done on an outpatient basis, but here in more conservative Japan I am getting off easy with 'only' a three-day stay.

But not to complain. As I said, the facility is first-rate, and my impression of all the staff I have dealt with so far is that of a very high level of competence. I was initially taken a bit aback when I met the doctor who will be performing the surgery tomorrow - he was so young! - but he must have seen something (panic?) in my eyes, because he emphasized that he had done this operation upwards of a hundred times, and in any case, a more experienced surgeon would also be at hand.

So with the first day's tests, explanations and paperwork now all done, there is nothing left but to relax in the lounge, sipping some milk tea and using the free time to prepare this little story. And there are no distractions in getting that done, because the hospital has fairly strict rules on electronic devices, and offers no WiFi. I am cut off from email for three days! Why are my hands starting to shake?

Let's hope the young doctor doesn't have any reason for the same thing to happen to him! And that makes me curious - perhaps I should have asked him if I was his first foreign patient. If so, would he be extra nervous, or extra careful?

I wonder!


Comments on this story ...

Posted by: Dave

More than enough material for lots of 'A Story A Week' episodes, indeed! But rather than clog up the main index list with them, let's have another one here, in the comments:

Considering ...

Around a week or so before going to the hospital, but after making all the arrangements, I was getting my hair cut at the place run by one of the ladies in the neighbourhood. Her husband has built a little 'salon' for her attached to their house, and she opens a few days a week to do hairdressing. She's a tad expensive, but the convenience - just three doors down - can't be denied, and I have been getting my hair cut there ever since she opened up a few years ago.

It perhaps goes without saying that she is chatty. This comes with the job, I suppose, and it would feel strange to sit there in silence while she did the work. So of course, no sooner had we got settled and she began clipping away, she started to ask about how things were going.

Now she knows that my business has been changing a lot recently, and in fact she herself provided a couple of introductions to people who subsequently began working for me, so it was easy to bring her up to date on that news. Our conversation wandered around a bit from there, and - given that it was uppermost in my thoughts - I at one point began to mention the upcoming hospital appointment.

But I checked myself. It occurred to me that telling this lady about something - about anything - was tantamount to standing up on my roof and broadcasting it to the entire neighbourhood. Beauty salons and barber shops have always been a place where news goes around and comes around; there are no secrets here!

So although the reason for my hospitalization is nothing worrying, I thought it best to remain discreet, and said nothing about it to her, thinking that in the subsequent rounds of gossip, the reason for the surgery would probably be overlooked, leaving nothing behind but, "Did you hear? Dave had to be hospitalized ..."

As it turned out; this was probably a mistake.

We skip ahead a week, to the actual event itself. I'm standing in line waiting to complete the check-in procedures and a young girl comes up to me. "Dave! What are you doing here ..." It's one of my former English students, who used to come to the classes I held at home more than twenty years ago. She's here with her baby, having something looked at. We chat for a minute, and I explain my situation, and she moves on.

Ten minutes later, I'm waiting in a reception room, and a guy pushing a cart full of stuff pauses, "Dave! What are you doing here ..." It's Tamura-san, who lives across the creek from me. We chat for a minute, and he moves on ... And so it goes again and again over the time that I am in there. And these are only the people who actually spoke to me; there must have been many others who recognized me, but didn't open a conversation.

So clearly, it would have been better right at the beginning to tell the hairdresser - in as much detail as possible! - exactly why I was in the hospital this time. A pre-emptive strike! As it is, probably half the town now 'suspects the worst ...'

Well, there's nothing I can do about it at this point, And in truth, I'm not too concerned what people are thinking about me. And after all, from here on, when they see me zooming around town on my bicycle, surely they'll be thinking, "Wow, he's doing so well, considering ..."

Posted by: Julio

Dave, funniest thing I have read in a while, glad you are okay....I may be going in for a similar operation..have a pain that is making me walk funny and kept me off the basketball court for the past few months...more in the upper/inside of the leg area...not sure yet but its been bothering me all spring/summer !

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