Thursday, June 16, 2011


It is a rainy day today and so I resisted going out for a walk with Tetsu and Choco. I am slow but I can walk! In fact I went cat and dog food shopping yesterday (drove the car!) and in my most helpless voice asked a stock boy to carry my 15 pounds of dog food and extra large bag of cat food to the cashier for me. He very kindly carried it out to the car for me too!


Back to hospital life.

After the first night in post-op, I was moved into a 6 patient room and spent the rest of the week making friendships and appreciating the hospital staff. On the orthopedic ward there is a variety of injuries and I quickly learned that torn cartilage of the knee (my problem) is one of the lesser injuries that need to be treated.

From beginning to end, one of my roommates , Mrs. Kikuchi, was in the bed across from me. She was in the hospital for a hip replacement that somehow got delayed because of complications. She spent her whole time cheerfully attached to an IV and we shared books and cookies that visitors brought in. (She flattered me by assuming I could read her books.)

Two obaachans (old grandmas), both 93 were in the hospital because of broken hips... Both were very clear minded but Haru-chan was bright and smiling to everybody while Kawada-san was angry at the world and especially at the hospital. It made a world of difference in how they were treated and how we interacted with them. Haru-chan was always thanking people and being apologetic about the care she needed, Kawada-san was always muttering about the slow care. To Haru-chan, student nurses flocked asking if she remembered their names etc. To Kawada-san, if someone asked her a question she would ignore them completely or complain that they had disrupted her sleep...

Two of my roommates were also in the hospital for torn knee cartilage and so we compared notes on the doctors' different methods of treatment or our own symptoms. I was very grateful for Mrs. Takanohashi who was operated on three days after me but was up and walking a day before me!

"How can you be walking already?! I've got to get rid of these crutches and get moving!"

Thanks to Mrs. Takanohashi, I found a good rival who spurred me to be more courageous in taking my first steps.

Up and down the hallway the rooms were filled with people that needed to be wheeled back and forth to the bathrooms causing a lot of extra work for the nurses. Many, MANY of the older patients were in various stages of dementia and throughout the days and nights we could hear them calling for family members or just lost in their confusion. The nurses patiently cared for them but I learned anew how hard it is to care for people that don't even realize they are in pain or need to be careful. Patients escaping from beds, playing with toilet paper, removing IVs or refusing to eat. And the nurses were putting in hours from 4:30 pm to 12:00 noon the next day! How they could continue to be cheerful I don't know!

Most of us patients became bored very quickly... I made my three Alabama beauty blocks within a couple of days and was left with no handwork. But some student nurses assigned to Haru-chan were helping her do origami and gradually the origami classes extended to the rest of us who wanted to try. We had so much fun and were all very proud to show each new creation we'd made! Just like little children.

"Look! Look! I made a heart!"

"Can you tell that this is supposed to be a snail?"

"Haru-chan! Wow! You can make a crane from memory!"

For all the pain-killers and IVs and physical therapy, our hospital room stayed active and cheerful from beginning to end. (Hopefully that was good for Mrs. Kawada...)

(← 93 year old Haru-chan making a crane.)

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