17 September 2011

73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 3

Hour 25: 9:00a - "Boredom is rage spread thin." - Paul Tillich

I woke up in a tangle of IV tubes, heart monitor wires, blood pressure gauge hoses, and thrombosis prevention compression socks/boots. But I woke up in very little pain. Aimee came around 9:00 o'clock and I told her my harrowing tale. She wasn't impressed that more wasn't done to help me, but she was pleased to see me feeling much better. "You're my little invalid now," she cooed, clearly pleased with her attempt at humor.

The nurse from the night before was gone, so a different one came by and was shocked to see me not writhing in pain. I guess the report from the night before was pretty damning. I was sitting upright on the bed talking to Aimee, the only evidence of my ordeal the sweaty, disheveled sheets beneath me. The nurse took my blood, temperature, and blood pressure, and then left, no doubt confused that my smile wasn't a grimace.

My cute doctor came in next and she too was surprised by my rapid convalescence. She poked my stomach expecting me to pass out in pain, but I didn't feel much more than some slight discomfort. The only place that hurt was below the incision where my abdominal muscles were stitching themselves up. The doctor shrugged and said I could eat solids for lunch and drink tea and water, but no juice.

Meals in Japanese hospitals are as bland as their counterparts in Canada -- and likely the world over. However, they do serve a lot of vegetables. They're steamed and flavorless, but they're vegetables nevertheless. Where Japanese meals really differ is that they give you no utensils.

I thought they forgot to bring them so I rang the nurse and she asked me, quizzically, "You didn't bring your own?" Um, no, I didn't bring my own utensils when I came to the hospital in pain the other night. She left and brought me a spoon and then told me that I could buy one downstairs after my meal. When I finished my lunch I scratched the number off the back indicating what wing it was from and put it in my drawer. Buy my own spoon indeed.

Aimee left shortly after I gagged down lunch and boredom promptly set in. I had my Kindle with me (I anticipated having to provide my own entertainment, not my own utensils) with a bunch of books I wanted to read, but I was still bored. I think setting or environment must have a lot to do with boredom. Reading at home in a relaxing chair, or lounging outside next to a lake or river with a book -- reading in places like these is not boring. But reading on an uncomfortable hospital bed? Boredom defined, somehow. Maybe it was because that was the only option I had.

Dinner came around and I gagged down some more rice gruel and bland vegetables. Even the food was boring, as unstimulating to the palate as the environment was to the senses. Boredom inside my body and out. Surely sleep would entertain me; painless, deep sleep.

Meet my first neighbour. To my right, with his mouth aimed right at the thin partition dividing my "room" and his: the snorer. Light out, head hits the pillow, snoring begins. For 30 minutes. Straight. And then... silence? Strangely enough, yes. His snoring could be heard down the hall; it rattled the walls; it surely threw off the timing of pace makers. And it blew itself out after 30 minutes, the bass drum sound turning to the sweet sounds of a baby breathing. Peace.

Meet my second neighbour. Directly across from me, headphones on, laptop on, what must have been the funniest movie ever made playing on his computer because he would not. stop. laughing. Not a loud, obnoxious laugh, though. This could barely be described as a laugh. It was a gentle sucking in and expulsion of air; a polite noise to indicate that yes, what was said was funny; a Japanese, I'm-in-a-hospital-and-must-be-polite sort of laugh. The most irritating laugh I've ever had to suffer.

An obnoxious laugh could be stopped. Ring the nurse, point to the offender's area, and sleep. But how could I call a nurse for a little snicker, a soundless chortle? Call her over and have her wait? "You'll hear it, I promise! It's unbearable!" There was nothing to be done. The rage that had unfolded itself into boredom concentrated itself into an impotent wish that the man's computer would explode, ending my suffering.

73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 1
73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 2
73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 4


  1. That's not humour! RUN MIKE RUN!

  2. Wait wait . . . "Humour" . . . there some medical based humour in there . . . somewhere.

  3. Well I did bleed, so presumably my humours are balanced. They're just not in line with Aimee's (I blame the German upbringing).

  4. Debby Stanton18 September, 2011

    Very good, Mike. I am sorry to say that I found your story of pain, very entertaining.. lol

  5. Lots of people are finding it entertaining, so I think you're okay. You'd only have to feel bad if you were the only one laughing.

  6. L Stereotype18 September, 2011

    I forgot about Aimee's German roots . . . does she hit you with a rolled up newspaper when you laugh?

  7. Nah, she just gives me a sour look and says, "That's not funny."

  8. Liam, based on all the abuse I've been getting on this blog I'm starting to think that you are a bit Germ-ophobic.