Hour 49: 9:00a - "You're paroled? Congrats! Time to find yourself a woman and get into trouble." - Text message from Chris, hours after I was discharged.
I eventually fell asleep but spent most of the night tossing and turning. Hospital beds are not comfortable. For places that are supposed to aid in convalescence, hospitals sure are uncomfortable, drab, boring, tasteless places. I would have felt a lot better with some sun, some decent food, and a colour scheme other than "neutral."
My wound hurt less than it had the day before. Where before I could walk but only slowly, today I was able to walk at full stride. When I took my breakfast tray down the hall to drop it off, I bumped into the nurse who was with me the first night and she was shocked to see me up and mobile only two days after being unable to even sleep. I smiled and thanked her for the other night and then waltzed off down the hall, leaving another confused nurse in my wake.
The doctor was quite pleased with the speed of my recovery and after poking me some more, asked me when I'd like to go home. I smiled and said, "Now." She laughed and said that if my blood test tomorrow morning was good then I could go home tomorrow morning. I was ecstatic. If she had told me I'd have to stay a few more days I would have tried to bribe her. I'm sitting here on a Saturday writing this and according to the original estimation I'd still be in the hospital right now -- possibly till Sunday. I would have gone insane.
Aimee came for lunch and I told her the good news. Neither of us wanted to get our hopes up, but it was difficult since I was no longer in pain and didn't appear to have developed an infection. We lounged around talking about how nice it would be once I was home, Aimee gagging down some unappetizing sushi from the grocery store, me gagging down rice gruel. Not exactly a good note for Aimee to go to work on, but someone had to earn the money while I was infirm.
I spent most of the day reading and working on a little Japanese. A couple of the nurses were pretty impressed that I was studying while recovering from surgery. Not impressed enough to slip me a little extra (or decent) food, but oh well. Aimee had brought me some pears, bananas, watermelon, and cashew nuts, so I was well stocked.
Our friend Chris came to visit me after he finished work and he brought me a sandwich -- a true friend. I stashed it in my refrigerator for breakfast and I walked him through the whole ordeal. I was no longer hooked up to various machinery (even my IV had been removed) so it was a little less dramatic. I also didn't have any pictures -- another regret from this experience. Neither Aimee nor I were thinking about posterity, apparently.
Chris left around 8:00 and I went to bed to read, hoping to outlast my laughing neighbour. No such luck though -- his movies were more entertaining than my book. I didn't have as much trouble falling asleep as I thought I would though. I guess my rage toward him was dissipated slightly by the likelihood that I'd be leaving the next day, so I slept a little better. No dreams though, which was surprising. I remember that I was having a dream while I was being operated on, but since that one I can't remember anything else. I would have thought that being doped up would produce some good ones, but alas...
I was woken up by a nurse roughly shaking me, which I took as a good sign: If I can be roused roughly then I must be good to go home, I thought. She took my blood and then what I hoped would be my last breakfast arrived.
Aimee snuck in 30 minutes before visiting hours started and we laid in bed relaxing. She had only been back in Japan for 10 days before I got sick, so we hadn't spent all that much time together between work and socializing. Laying in a hospital bed together wasn't exactly romantic, but it was nice.
My doctor, another doctor, and three nurses all showed up shortly after Aimee arrived and we weren't sure at first what to make of them. Either the news was dire, or they just wanted one last look at the foreigner. Luckily it was the latter. I was given my biopsy results (negative) and my doctor said my blood work was okay, so I was free to go. I thanked them for everything, we packed my bags, and I damn near skipped out of that hospital just after 10:00a Wednesday morning -- 73 hours after my operation started.
The sandwich Chris gave me was the first thing I ate when I got home and it was delicious. Does the penal system have a program in place where you can request a first meal after you're paroled, like you can request a last meal before you're executed? Because that meal would taste really, really good. Probably better than a last meal; I think if you knew that you were eating your last meal it would taste like ashes.
It's Sunday morning now and I've been out of the hospital since Wednesday. I'm totally mobile, I feel fine, and there's only the slightest bit of pain under my incision -- and only if I push hard. My vacation ends on Tuesday, when I start work again.
Somehow I forgot to mention that my doctor said I had the smallest appendix she'd ever seen -- about the size of my pinky finger. So if I've learned nothing else from this experience, at least I've learned this: Size does matter, but not how I originally imagined it, and possibly only to cute Japanese surgeons.
73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 1
73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 2
73 Hours in a Japanese Hospital: Part 3