Sunday, October 5, 2014

Surgery in Japan!

Yesterday my good friend Hiro taught me a Japanese phrase I love , "Kami Sama no Heiwa ga arimasu yo ni" meaning "God's peace be with you".

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So I was thinking of what I could blog about and I decided, why not have surgery while conscious so I could write up the experience and share it with all of you? So last Thursday I did.

And what an enlightening experience it's been. I've had a mysterious fat growth just below and inside of my left buttocks (not sure how else to explain it). I finally decided to have it taken out... for your reading pleasure.

Atsushi Tsuneki helped me out so much, taking me to the arduous and aplenty doctor visits. Atsushi took me to most of the doctor appointments pre and post surgery and translating. He even sat behind a curtain during the surgery just in case he was needed, despite his disdain for blood. Joel Osborne also took me to a post surgery appointment and then hung out with me. Mason and Jordan have made me feel like a popular 19 year old girl, post wisdom teeth operation, with all the gifts and kindness which almost makes the process worth it all (sans their visit later that night as they laughed uncontrollably at my awkward bandages like a little catdog with one of those cones on its neck...I can't blame them)

The day of the surgery, I expected some of the nurses and doctors to speak some English in correlation to their highly skilled careers. Their secondary language skilled proved little correlation, they didn't speak any English, and I don't think they were faking it like some Japanese people are apt to pretend.

The surgical room was noticeably cold. I quizzically lied down on the bed, face down with my arms against the armrests and my nervous hands gripping the ends like it could pacify my nerves, hoping I was doing everything as they desired.

In Japanese, the doctors informed me they would insert the local anastasia, then quickly thereafter told me they'd make the preliminary incision. On multiple occasions, doctors and nurses asked me if it was painful in their primary language, each time I would reply with the negative. It wasn't so much as painful as uncomfortable; the most uncomfortable, strange 35 minutes of my life. At one point one of the nurses asked her colleagues the English word for "Kibun", after some silence, I nervously replied,  "feel".

I never thought to open my eyes. In the middle of the surgery, a kind nurse told me in English, to "relax", referring to my hands gripping the armrests. I was aware of my hands, it was just an uneasy feeling as the surgeon squashed his hands into my vulnerable flesh. Next I could feel them sewing me up, the pulls and twists undeniable despite the local anastasia's desensitization. I was thankful they play a lot of video games in Japan, I'm sure his childhood vocation helped my doctors keen finger dexterity.

A calm, masculine Japanese voice informed me the surgery was almost over. Five minutes later, they told me the words I was anxiously holding out for, "Owari". I opened my eyes, forgetting they were ever closed. Despite the chill room temperature the staff were surprised to see the amount of sweat I had left on the surgery bed. The kind, young and always serious surgeon showed me the bloody fat mass, about the size of an egg. It was bigger than I thought. It looked like an organ had been wrangled out of my body.

"Oh my God, oh my God"

It think he understood those words.

And thank you God, the surgery is over and only these stitches, bandages and memories remain.


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As soon as I timidly walked off the surgery table I felt down due to my inability to adequately thank the doctors and nurses. Sure I can say "Arigato" but something more authentic than that. They were all so compassionate. My nervousness with the relatively minor surgery itself contributed, but more than that, the language barrier didn't allow me to demonstrate my appreciation.

Kami Sama no Heiwa ga arimasu yo ni


Pre surgery picture with one of the nurses. 

Post surgery, returning home with Atsushi

My little Japanese sister Hono wears shirts with my name on them. Samantha??...