It has been nearly 6 months since I left Japan, so I think the time is right for a retrospective on my time in that most unusual of countries. My time in Japan was clearly a huge formative step in my life. I earned a Master’s Degree, established an incredible amount of intercultural friendships, and met my fiancée. But what was Japan? How do I feel about a country whose electronics, automobiles, and pop culture are wildly popular in America but whose social dynamics are nigh incomprehensible? I’ve thought about it a great deal since I left, and the answer is complex, but I’ll do my best to convey it to you now…
And so it ends, I have finally concluded my hospital residency, almost 5 weeks to the day after it began. Things will be a little ragged here for the next few days, there’s a lot of housekeeping to be done on DJ so bear with me, but we should be running smooth again in no time flat…
I was officially discharged from the hospital at 11:30am Thursday morning the 11th. I slowly walked back into my apartment and unburdened my load just before 2pm, and boy oh boy did that feel good!
This evening marks the close of my final meaningful day here at Oita University Hospital. Tomorrow I will be released around 10 AM, with a new knee and all the promise of the coming year to go with it.
I’ve been here for five weeks, almost to the day, and the farewells began early. Masako-san, my infinitely compassionate and able nurse, stopped in just after breakfast. She had just finished the night shift and would be off tomorrow when I departed.
She brought me a small gift and a card, and I scrambled to present her with the one Ma Li had so carefully selected. I managed to remember about half of what I wanted to say to her in parting, stumbled over the rest, and then we stood there in an awkward silence for a long moment.
Another day, another step closer to discharge. Today’s highlight was 30 rockin’ minutes on the stationary bike pedaling 15 imaginary kilometers. Starting tomorrow I’m on the bike twice a day busting my balls in an effort to build my legs back up. My flexibility is now excellent, nearly at the magic 130 degree mark, but my right leg is the very definition of “atrophied.”
Gandhi could beat me in a squatting contest right now, seriously, my poor leg is that thin. My doctors have set a tentative discharge date of next Thursday provided I make some gains in the quadriceps department.
And in the meantime I’m studying and reading until my eyes glaze over…
Well, I’m back in the hospital again. I was due back at 4 and came 3-legging it down the hall at 4:15 so they didn’t give me too much grief. Two of the other three guys in my room were discharged in my absence, unfortunately the only guy left is a decrepit old fellow who can’t hear a damn thing so essentially I’m alone in here now – talking with him is impossible.
It feels very nice to be back in my cozy warm bed though – my apartment in Beppu doesn’t have heat and Ma Li and I spent the entire weekend wearing sweaters and jackets inside… That’s not much fun!
I’m back to my usual grind as well – twice a day bending and rehab at 2pm. No word yet on how long I’ll have to stay this time, but I’ll keep you posted!
Monday morning, the 1st, Ma Li and I headed to Oita through freezing rain to go to a kickass department store / mall on the southern outskirts of town. There had been some preliminary discussion amongst us as to whether anything would actually be *open* on New Year’s Day, but Ma Li was determined to lay her hands on a totally awesome “fukubukuro” so we had gone ahead and hopped a train on over.
Had a major breakdown in communications with my temporary Drew’s Journal assistant, spare heir Steven. So, 11 days after the last post, I’m writing and posting this one myself… and baby, it’s a doozy!
I AM OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!
Ok, not forever, but in Japan celebrating the New Year’s holiday, known as Shougatsu, is pretty much the biggest event of the year and all ambulatory and semi-ambulatory patients are encouraged to leave the hospital for New Year’s weekend and spend time with their families. Only a skeleton crew of nurses man the wards, and only the most infirm patients remain.