A Week in the Hospital


This is probably  my most personal, lengthy blog post ever, but I think that’s only a reflection of how significant this past month has been in my growth both as a language learner and a person.  Though it might just read as a random list of memories.

I’ll format it nicely for easy skimming.  At least, I’ll try to. Or you can just skip the first half or something.

Tough Times

I’ve been in and out of the hospital for the past month.  Ever since the spring semester started, I’ve been unable to go to class regularly and work on most of my goals for my remaining time here in Kyoto.

The doctors had a tough time figuring out what was wrong with me.  I was tested for everything from pneumonia to tuberculosis.  Living with the fear that I could have infected my friends was not easy for me.

I was forced to spend most of January in my room, due to fear of my whatever-disease being contagious.  My host family had to leave my meals by the stairs, and after they were gone I would go and pick up the food.  Things continued like this for a few weeks until my next visit to the hospital.  Fortunately, it was not tuberculosis.  But I still didn’t know what was going on.  They gave me meds for pneumonia and asked me to come back a week later.  I was feeling great, and I thought the medicine was working, but the X-rays showed that my condition was worsening.

I was asked yet again not to go to school, rest, and take medication.  The next visit to the hospital showed a slightly better condition, but one that would continue to worsen if something wasn’t done soon.

It’s important to note that this was my first time having any serious ailment.  I’d never been to a hospital for anything other than a check-up or vaccination before.  I was really worried about my health, and the coughing up blood bit didn’t help much.

The only option left was for me to be hospitalized.  But the hospital was pretty busy and there were no empty rooms, so I had to wait for one to open.

The Wait

Probably the second best week of the fiasco, since I was able to go to school and see everyone.  A lot had changed overall from last semester, including a controversial incident that I missed.  Everyone was a little different, but reacquainting myself with friends went over well.  After waiting a week, I got a call from the hospital telling me the date for my 入院.

New Place, New Friends, and the Most Awesome Moment Ever.

I went to the hospital with my host dad and one of the staff members from my program.

I was expecting the place to be really depressing, but it was very bright, clean, and smiles were everywhere.  Of course there were the strange/uncomfortable stares as well, especially when people realized I was the one who was going to be hospitalized.

My dad had brought a bag full of stuff for my stay.  Since I was admitted on Monday and planned to stay until Thursday, he had packed enough for that time period.  After he left along with the staff, I had nothing to do but wait for a doctor to show up and do something.

The nurses were very kind and gave me a tour of the floor, encouraging me to explore the (frikin enormous)hospital on my own when I have the chance.

After getting geared up (IV, pajamas, wristband), they took a bunch of blood.  I also met two of my doctors.

One doctor, a male, is very eager to learn English, since it is his goal to work in America.

The other doctor, a female, doesn’t seem as interested in working abroad, but still wants to learn English.

Whenever they came to check on me, they spoke to me in Japanese, later asking me to say what they said in English.  I found this a very fun exercise, despite having to use spoken English, which is something I’m trying not to do while in Japan.

They would often visit together, and they were very casual and goofy, which made it very easy to talk to them.

One day our chat lead to mystery novels, since I had my copy of 謎解きはディナーのあとで in plain sight.  This was actually done intentionally, as it is one of my methods of getting Japanese people to talk to me in Japanese.

It was that day that I found out the female doctor is a huge fan of mystery as well.  I got a lot of recommendations for books and shows to watch.

The male doctor gave me two 東野圭吾 novels, which his wife had finished reading.  Surprising to say the least, I was very touched by the gift.  The nurse who was supposed to check up on me was right outside, and when she entered uttered a lively よかったですね!

The doctors told me about places I should see in the hospital and accompanied me when I had to visit different departments for tests.

We spoke a lot, and they taught me some phrases that I didn’t know.

However, the one moment I will never forget was three days into my stay.  The male doctor walked in and sat down on a nearby chair.  This was the sign that he was just here to chat and not for anything medical.  I forget the exact Japanese expression, but he told me that I changed his view towards foreigners for the better.  For some reason, that made me really proud, as if I’d just completed some important mission.

Before leaving the hospital, the male doctor gave me his contact information and invited me to hang out with him and the female doctor.

The Part about Language Learning

I had no internet access while in the hospital.  No SRS. No studying. Just novels, manga, TV, and other human beings.  I ended up learning many medical terms through osmosis, such as “IV”, “leaked”, “blood vessels”, “inflamed”, “swell”, and “bowel movement”, just to name a few. That would be 点滴(てんてき), 漏れた(もれた), 血管(けっかん), 炎症(えんしょう), 腫れる(はれる) and 通じ(つうじ), respectively.  Fortunately that last one is not related to the rest. Here are some others for fun/I want to make sure I still remember them:

採血(さいけつ)- take a blood sample    結核(けっかく)- Tuberculosis           喘息(ぜんそく)- asthma     痰(たん)- phlegm   痛み止め(いたみどめ)- painkiller      咳止め(せきどめ)- cough medicine       吸入器(きゅうにゅうき)- inhaler 漱(うがい)- gargling  咥える(くわえる)- to hold in one’s mouth

One thing I think is interesting to note is that I learned all of these words by hearing them. I figured them out from context during conversations or when I was trying to explain that my arm hurt a lot.  I also realized I have a strange reaction to new words.  If I hear them in a conversation, I immediately think of kanji compounds that could make up the word.  Because I use the context of the conversation, I am often correct in my guess.  Does anyone else have this  match-kanji-to-the-word-game go on in their head when they hear a word they don’t know?

In terms of speaking, it’s easier to do when you don’t have a choice.  As nice as the nurses seem, they were very busy and the last thing they want is someone who pauses for a few seconds to think of the perfect sentence.


Same Old New Me

Feeling better and more relaxed, I plan on fully taking advantage of every moment I have, including hanging out with my new friends.  I’ll have to get used to living on a med schedule, but I should be able to remember. おっちょこちょいけどな。

Lessons Learned

You don’t need the internet to learn a language.

Some people are just waiting to be proven wrong.  So get to it.

If you want to speak, speak.

Inflamed blood vessels hurt a lot.

東野圭吾 is awesome.


Author: Koyami

I'm Koyami. I am a freelance Japanese-English Translator and I enjoy learning new skills and reading in my spare time. Current pursuits include juggling, piano, and collecting all of the 十二国記 books. Follow me on Twitter and Google+ for blog updates, my Japanese word of the day, and more!