I still have to post a few things about events that happened before my surgery, but enough people have been asking that I thought it would be good to post information about my surgery first. My stay in the hospital was a lot shorter and a lot less stressful this time. (As I write this, I’ve already been out for a full day.) Instead of recovering from a broken bone and a surgery, I just had to worry about recovering from being cut open. My surgery was a lot shorter this time: 30 min instead of a little over an hour, I think. I don’t really remember what time it ended or even what time I woke up for the first time afterwards.
Overall, it was a better experience. I had a private room, I didn’t have to spend the night before, and the nurse was able to place the IV on the first time with minimal bruising. My surgery was at 1:30, I was awake by about 2:30, I think. I was able to stay awake long enough to check my phone at 3:30 and send my parents a text around then (I believe). Strangely, they rolled me down to the OR in my bed vs last time when I was loaded into a wheelchair. The bed would have been a lot more comfortable considering the hospital wheelchairs do not have those pieces that lift up to support a broken leg. And this time a wheelchair would have been perfectly fine.
The anesthesia still hurt, a lot, going in and this time it made me a little sick afterwards. I think that might have something to do with the amount of water I chugged right before the cut off time in the morning. I also had a pretty intense dream, though I can only vaguely remember that it was about being in the hospital.
But this time I did not have to deal with being horribly hot on top of trying to wake up afterwards. For some unknown reason, the nurses thought I needed TWO duvets on top of me while I was sleeping, but took one of them off as soon as I asked. Once I was a little more lucid I got them to agree to leaving them both off. In my hospital gown (Japanese ones are awesome and close in the front like a bathrobe), I was the perfect temperature.
As I mentioned, I got sick twice, but was overall ok. I did, however, start to get hungry around 11pm, but since I couldn’t eat anything until breakfast I had to just drink a lot of water instead.
Nurse: Are you feeling ok? Your stomach is settled and you don’t have a headache?
Me: Yeah, but I’m really hungry now.
Nurse: Just drink a lot of water. You’re young, you can take it.
Me: -.- I don’t know what being young has to do with it…
The problem with drinking enough to keep you full is that the inevitable happens. However, in order to get to the bathroom down the hall, I had to be detached from the various machines and tubes attached to me. I had a blood pressure cuff, a heart monitor, a saline drip, and a cuff around my good leg that would occasionally fill up with air, squeezing my leg and preventing blood clots. It took a silly amount of time to get me all disconnected and loaded into the wheelchair. The whole time my hospital gown is flying open every which way and I have just run out of bothers to give because I’ve got underwear on and the nurses have already seen all of me.
Unfortunately, it seemed that the gown they put me in was longer than the one I had worn before surgery. The thing hung past my feet. This was not a problem while I was laying in bed, but in the bathroom it led to a sitcom-worthy shenanigans. I was standing in front of the toilet, balancing on one leg while trying to get everything back in order so I can sit back in the wheelchair. The edge of the gown then somehow gets into the toilet (after I had flushed, thankfully) and I manage to save it just in time before it touches the water. At which the sudden movement makes the heart monitor lead (which has been slung over my shoulder until this point) make a swan dive into the water. I grab it, but not quickly enough. So I’m standing there, still balanced on one foot, saying not nice words under my breath as I try to wipe it off as best as I can and get back into the wheelchair.
Once the nurses got me back to the room I was staying in (which was a special one right next to the nurses’ station and not the one I spent the next few nights in) they got me all plugged back in. I did not say a word about what had happened. A few minutes later one of the nurses came back in and said the monitor was not working. I had a moment of guilt and was about to confess what had happened when the nurse realized one of the leads had popped off. So then she has to reach into my gown as I try to hold certain parts of my anatomy out of the way. The worse part is that I am suddenly ticklish as she tries to blindly clip it back into place.
Little by little, I managed to get my clothing back. I say this now in case anyone is reading this and wondering more about surgery in Japan: I woke up in a diaper. Both times. Last time I had a catheter l too, but the surgery was short enough that I did not need it this time. I was, however, able to figure out how to say, “Can you please remove the catheter?” in Japanese, so that’s cool. Thankfully, this time I was just able to say, “I want to go to the bathroom. Can I take this thing off and put on real underwear?”
At some point in the afternoon the surgeon stopped by and gave the metal that had been in my leg. I had actually considered asking for it, but realized that I had no use for it. Still, he informed me that a lot of people like to hold on to it. (I ended up making it into a necklace that I will probably never wear, but looks cool.)
I slept on and off throughout the night. One of the nurses ever so helpfully told me, “You can sleep on your side if you want.” Which would have been great, if I could have figured out how to do that. Also, hospital bed mattresses are not particularly plush and therefore can bruise your hips if you sleep on your side for too long.
Eventually the blood pressure cuff came off, followed by the leg squeezing device. Once that was gone, I got to put on pants. I had breakfast before the whole bed was wheeled into the room I was actually in. I was already able to wobble around without the wheelchair, though I used the thing my IV was on to help support me as I moved throughout the room. Pretty soon the saline drip was taken out and the tube was replaced with a port. I finally got to change out of the gown and into a normal shirt. (A nurse stopped by later to help me change only to realize I had already taken care of it. The nurses were also surprised earlier when I managed to maneuver in the wheelchair by myself and was already halfway back to my room by the time the caught up.)
From that point on all I had to worry about was relaxing. I did not have physical therapy, I only had visitors (besides Tomoko) on Friday, and I thankfully did not get a fever at all this time. I was pretty useless on Thursday because of lack of sleep the previous night. However, by Friday I was back to normal and I spent most of the morning working on some translation work I was doing for a friend.
Food was just as difficult to eat as before (with about one or two okay meals). I tried everything, but my stomach was rarely up to the task.
It was a short stay (done entirely in Japanese). I had a few moments where I realized that my Japanese is a lot better than I thought it was. The fact that I was able to communicate using medical vocabulary entirely in Japanese was something that I never really paid attention to before. If only I could get my grammar and written vocabulary up to the same level.