Well, I suppose you could say I am on the home straights. I can walk. By which I mean, on certain days, and when the weather is right ( no one on the ward could do very much yesterday; I had thought all that was a myth), if someone is assisting me – standing right next to me, arm looped through mine just in case- I can, actually, walk with just one cane and often not even grasping the handrail.
I do not understand the mechanics of this. I know that I have had my bones broken, and plates inserted, and that it is very painful ( particularly later when they swell up and throb – it’s painkiller central here ), but that also I literally saw myself putting one foot in front of the other and moving along and I had to ask him am I dreaming this?

On Monday afternoon I managed to walk two whole circuits of the ward with my physiotherapist ( see photo above ) and was overjoyed. By the evening, I wanted to try it again. However, I couldn’t even get up from the bed despite the gruff exhortations of the beefy, go-for-it female nurse ( it’s got to the point where the natural human divisions into likes and aversions regarding the nurses has got quite strong: some,wiry, prissy, officious, I just want to boot out of my room; others – the more jocular, down-to-earth food-loving types I can josh around and have a laugh with but they also tend to be a bit thick and insensitive, as on this occasion when I was clearly in distress and extremely disappointed that I couldn’t stand up from the bed and repeat the miracle – my knees just felt like they were crumbling and locking but she was egging me on anyway, laughing- and I wasn’t in the mood for any of it.)

So a total rollercoaster. Elation. Deflation. Exulting in triumph, then miserable as sin. On Tuesday I wanted to prove that I could definitely do it. In the afternoon, with Tomoya ( who I have unfortunately developed a pathetic crush on ) I managed to walk two circuits again. He is just so angelically positive, so damn sweet, so endlessly encouraging, and I have always only ever fallen in love with goodness ( I just don’t understand people who fall for total bastards. How/ Why would you?)

In the evening, I wanted to show what I had achieved to Duncan – my true love; don’t worry, I know what is real – and, though he was scrambling about, bless him, trying to get obstacles out of the way for me wondering what the hell to do and how he should support me – I don’t think he could quite believe what he was seeing and was terrified I would fall over – we did walk two whole circuits of the ward arm in arm together, me sometimes stopping to hold the rail and have a breather, he thrilled and absolute delighted for me. I AM WALKING. I am walking!

It feels miraculous. This was the entire goal. The surgeon is a genius, as is my physio ( immediately more intuitive about my knee and leg situation than the previous one, who was sweet and who helped me through my bruised, post op vulnerabilities and we got on well, but Mr Murase has a stronger, instinctive grip. He has The Touch).

The nurses are driving me mad though. And so is the institutionalization. I think I have done well to get through it – after all, it’s more than five weeks now, and that is quite a long time you know, particularly when you are The Foreigner, alone all the time,  but I can’t claim 100 % fine mental health ( when could you?I hear you privately exclaim).

I have been flying off the handle, though. Not at everybody, mind you. Many of the nurses are gentle and sweet and I instinctively like them. Others are just doing their jobs- which is not easy, and I respect them, but darlings, one thing you should know is that NO ONE TALKS DOWN TO ME, NO-ONE, because I will always react very badly and become aggressive: I just can’t bear being spoken to as if I am stupid, even if I know my Japanese language skills are far from perfect:DO. YOU. UNDERSTAND. WHAT. I. AM. SAYING. TO.YOU. Yes, I do – you patronizing fool ( this woman never listens to anything I say and just talks to me on autopilot, her way of dealing with the fact that there is an intransigent, messy, perfumed foreigner in Room 402 who doesn’t just lie there passively like most of the other zombie invalids). Japan is the S&M country par excellence; truly madly deeply all about sadism and masochism on all kinds of levels, about role and submission, and some people just lie there passively, and dotingly, aslittle lambs to the loving slaughter.

Ooh  , can feel my anger and frustration coming out now, can’t you, the nastiness. Well, excuse me. It must be this first cup of coffee. It has already made me more antagonistic, I need to tone it down. Perhaps it’s the sleeping pills, or the suppressed claustrophobia, the way the days just bleed whitely into one another, the muzak, the routines, the meals. It just goes on as my bones slowly knit themselves together invisibly.

The doctor and his team have told me I am scheduled for another x-ray today. The one on Tuesday had to be cancelled because I went insane in the x-ray room. Firstly I was escorted by the mad nurse you see pictured- I’ll deal with her in a minute-  and forced to walk on the frame right to the other end of the hospital, which was too far; then, the technician : a fat myopic moron with no communication skills or knowledge of my medical situation whatsoever who was trying, with a bovine, booming voice  – I am in here for knee, not ear problems you fuckwit, to get me to stand on one leg ( hello? bilateral closed wedge high tibial osteotomies motherfucker ! ), when I kept repeatedly telling him that I couldn’t – hanging there like Jesus on the cross, my vulnerable knees beneath me, about to fall down off the whole contraption, he just barking at me then, as though I were a dog, to just sit down. On this tiny stool, there beneath me, on the ground. Which would have meant just collapsing to the ground and possibly breaking my legs again and trust me, I am really NOT keen on going through this operation again : in fact I have realized that I have been really quite traumatized by it – I am terrified of the whole procedure now, the anaesthetic, the water… and so I just went APESHIT like a screaming madman with Tourette’s FFFF as the psychobitch nurse just stood there staring impassively, not doing anything, eyeing me coldly and weirdly because hell hath no fury like a scorned woman.

So let’s talk about HER, shall we.

Yes, let’s….

In Japan there is a devastating phenomenon called ‘buriko’. I could write an entire book about gender roles and the various compartmentalizations in Japanese society generally, but essentially what it boils down to is the oppressive, sexist idea that women should always, if possible, be ‘kawai’, or cute.

This is expressed perfectly in the teen idol groups, where made to measure, factory produced pretty little twenty one year olds giggle and act like six year old girls with pretty pink little panties and speak in high voices ( there is something dangerously paedophilic about the whole thing: no wonder Tokyo is the center of child pornographers and human trafficking), and on single every level I abhor it. It degrades women, turns them into sex objects, and destroys ambition ( which is why I am so energetically encouraging of my female students: REJECT THIS BULLSHIT, GIRLS. You can do whatever the fuck you want. ‘Cute’ should never be your ultimate objective.)

Yes, so buriko is bullshit- embarrassing, silly, but particularly in a 55 year old woman. Giggling, cupping her ‘little hands’ over her mouth as she flirts ( and boy does she FLIRT, verging almost on harassment),, chortling with weird little sucked in breaths like Chucky ….. at first I found it curiously amusing in a way – quite camp, bizarre, and I do need some colour and entertaining in these dreary, repetitive, beige and grey confines, but it did then get a bit wearing to say the very least, particularly at the volume in which she was doing it:over and over again, cutesy cutesy cutesy, and the other day it was getting too much, but still kind of ‘fun,’ KIND of, when I then just semi- jokingly shouted out from my pitiable wheelchair

” You’re crazy!”

just to, you know, further the ‘amusement’.

The problem is, and I absolutely did not do this intentionally because I’m not that cruel, this all happened within earshot of the other nurses, who then all laughed. AT her. And wholeheartedly agreed with me. Yes, yes, she is crazy….So unfortunate….

You have to remember that this is THE bullying culture par excellence (even victims of the Fukushima radiation meltdown are getting severely bullied in other parts of the country, at the moment, as did the hibakusha atomic bomb survivors after World War II: Japan’s extreme conformity inevitably leads to this I am afraid, this nasty victimization),  so this soon led to a chorus at the nurse station of yes! She is crazy!……..


This was NOT my intention. It was just a joke ( even if actually true). And in any case, ‘you’re crazy’ – I said it in English because all Japanese know ‘kureijiii’, the katakana equivalent, was said ( I think), in a jesting, lighthearted manner – is just something we say to friends when we are messing around, not some terrible insult.

Is it not ?

She, however, the stupid cow, really took it to heart. And put her widdle fists to her widdle eyes (now who’s the bully) and cwied. Or something. Whatever.

The next day, she was in a full blown five year old strop. I told Mr Murase about it during our one o clock physiotherapy session and he agreed, in a whisper, yes, she is strange, don’t worry about her, but then he guided me around the ward and saw her swish her hair in that ‘I’m not talking to you now’ manner and said wow, that is terrible, that’s really unprofessional ( none of the other nurses are like this, obviously), and seemed quite annoyed, almost alarmed on my behalf ( I am, after all, the patient).

It would be her, then, wouldn’t it, who was assigned to take me to the X-ray room for the aforementioned meltdown. Together. For God’s sake. With those petulant, downturned eyes. Whispering, ostentatiously, about me with a colleague standing RIGHT NEXT TO ME as I tried my best to walk the distance so far away, not helping – except to goose me – she copped a good feel of my balls as she ‘helped me’ into my wheelchair when she was finally done staring like a horror doll ( fuck her!!!! ) from the side as she saw me writhing and shouting from where I was hanging, terrified that my legs were going to break, and – this might just be my overactive imagination, but I swear as we walked along she was deliberately walking too close and trying to bump me. Maybe she wants revenge and wants me to start all over again…to keep me, like Kathy Bates in Misery, in my belittling wheelchair.

Anyway, stuff her. I will soon be out of here. Next Wednesday is the beginning of Golden Week: there will be no more physiotherapy –  we will say goodbye on Tuesday, and god-willing – they seem to think I am doing really well- I will be discharged, new x-ray withstanding, on the next day.

There will only be a skeletal staff of nurses working during the holiday period, and I would much rather be at home practicing walking around our neighborhood, with Duncan and the cat and eating his food, under sunlight, in May trees, than just malingering here in my bed staring dazedly out from the window.

Plus, I don’t know which nurses will be on staff. If it’s her……


Filed under Flowers


  1. jennyredhen

    Compassion is what is needed to heal people.Doctor Youngson wrote the article below

    He cites research showing that if an anaesthetist is “warm and positive and compassionate” with a patient in their pre-operative evaluation, “it will halve the requirement for morphine after surgery, it will improve surgical wound healing, it will improve surgical outcomes, it will significantly reduce the amount of time that patients spend in the hospital. What you do for five or 10 minutes has this incredible effect on the clinical outcomes in the patient.”

    • You do have a strange way of replying to my posts. OBVIOUSLY compassion is needed and I am getting a lot of it ( particularly from the two physiotherapists I have had).

      You often choose to ignore the core of what I am writing about – in this case a nutjob of a nurse. Surely you can see that that is the mainstay of this stupid, furious piece?

  2. Forgive me if I laugh! I don’t mean to be unsympathetic — oh, god, could you and Ric share miseries and stories of hospital staff sadism — but this is FUNNY: I mean laugh-out-loud funny. You poor guy. I can just imagine you hanging there, etcetera. Also, and I know a bit about traumatization, it seems that a soupçon of paranoia often comes with the territory, so the actual sadism (and I don’t dispute that hospitals are full of people who enjoy watching others suffer, and often go so far as to deliberating inflict it for still more pleasure) feels even worse, more perverse, uglier, more personal. I have a feeling writing to us about it made you feel a lot better: stronger and more in control.

    That man Tomaya has beautiful eyes.

    • He does. Like a young gazelle ( he is 23 ).

      OF COURSE I write this to be funny ( look at the title). But it is real as well, as you realize.

      And yes, it does make me feel better sharing it and getting it off my chest a bit I must admit, even if / particularly if I come across as a complete loon.

      A ‘blog’ ( I wish there were another word for it), is , ultimately, about entertaintment.

    • It’s just that to laugh flat-out, to tell you I did, without expressing sympathy, without issuing an apology first, wouldn’t necessarily have made me a very Nice Canadian. And we take our reputation seriously. And true confession, I almost forgot to be sympathetic. It really was/is that funny. AND I actually thought that if I said it was hilarious without making sure that I expressed sympathy, it might have made matters worse. Because yes, I wasn’t sure how fragile you were, how much the humour might have been a way to feel better, how vulnerable you might actually be. Because yes, I thought the roller coaster might be getting the better of you. On a scale of 1 to 10, your paranoia sounds about a 2, maybe a 3.

      Anyway, you’re on your way outta there. None too soon, clearly. 😉

  3. The sooner you’re out of there, then, the better!

    • Ah, and probably this is what made me rate you a 2-3: “Maybe she wants revenge and wants me to start all over again…to keep me, like Kathy Bates in Misery, in my belittling wheelchair.”

      Of course (at least, I think) you were being humorous. And so am I.

      (Sorry, had put this in the wrong spot first time round.)

  4. I think there are probably a lot of nurses like your “Nurse Ratchet” who have sadistic tendencies, and are in that line of work because they enjoy making people suffer…don’t get me wrong, I believe that most nurses are good caring people. It is a terrible situation. The good news is that she will be out of your life altogether very soon and I am happy to know that you are doing so well.

    • Thanks F.

      I am sure I must come across as a horrible person in this but I put it up anyway.

      She is actually a very hard working nurse and predictably I am now feeling a tad guilty. But her behaviour WAS weird.

  5. MrsDalloway

    If the other staff know about it, I hope someone has a word and/ or she’s kept away from you. Sounds really distressing. But hopefully you are home recovering in less than a week then?

    • MrsDalloway

      But maybe take her photo down?

    • Yes!

      But as you know, I write up my experiences with a piquant salty flavour; words are a way to vent frustrations. I am not exaggerating anything- in fact if I had a video of her buriko flirtations you might even say I was underplaying it; plus when I think about my real anger and distress in the x-ray room – I have just come back with a different nurse for a second try and it was fine, but she literally stood there like a long dead fish and watched me freak out without a morsel of compassion – FUCK. HER !!!!! ) but now I think about it yes. She might not be ‘dangerous’ per se but I don’t need this playground petulant bullshit when I am still in recovery so it probably is best she spend more time with elderly straight men who are more receptive to her creepy outlandish sexuality.

  6. penseedautomne

    Neil san, you are absolutely normal and sane. I wish I had read this before my mom in law was hospitalized for her last of life time last year. I now know much better what she felt and tried to claim. She was in a good hospital and in good hands and the nurses were skilled and nice overall. But some of them she couldn’t stand, those who treated her as if she were a baby or a totally senile old dear. She did not ask much, she just wanted to be treated as what she was, a person. She once said that there was patients’ logic (which is not always accepted).

    Thank you Neil san for the story (I can picture a movie out of this. Sorry, I know it is not funny.) and I am serious, I pray for your safety in your last days at the hospital. You will be free, soon!!

    • It IS funny because I plan it that way.

      Your mother’s experience is not though and I am sorry to hear it.

      Actually, after my blow out in the x/ray lounge, the counselor came ( as she always does for all the patients on a Tuesday afternoon).

      • She herself said that she felt that in general, doctors need more training in communication skills. Being condescended to or treated like an infant or an imbecile just CANNOT be good for the spirits and therefore recovery!

  7. Peter

    You really should not have published this

  8. I did try to take down the picture of my physio but for some god unknown reason this phone of mine, which has caused me SUCH stress I here, won’t let me.

    I actually managed to walk up and down stairs with him today – UNBELIEVABLE – which is the passport to be able to leave: JUST FIVE MORE DAYS, and then maybe on the computer at home I will take it down.

    Reading the post properly should make it clear who is he and who is she though, and in any case I have nothing but good things to say about him ( it’s not just old Death In Venice me- everyone thinks he is good ), so I think it’s probably ok as it is.

  9. Tara C

    I am so sorry to read about the distressing experiences you’ve had. Very unprofessional and inappropriate. I am very glad to hear you can go home in five days and escape this claustrophobic unpleasant place. I live in fear that something will happen to me that will force me to go to hospital because I know it will affect me similarly to how it has affected you. Sending lots of positive thoughts for your healing and imminent release!

    • No No no it isn’t a distressing and unpleasant place at all – it’s been very good overall as I have written elsewhere; this was just an inflamed reaction to one particular situation that I had an on-the-spot compulsion to write, and I enjoy writing in the most extreme possible way sometimes, hopefully making it funny to boot.

      I WAS very stressed out on that particular way and made a real asshole of myself the way I overreacted, but this wasn’t meant to be taken as an overall encapsulating of some godawful hospital. They have done a very good job, actually, and this eccentric woman, who I really laid over the coals here, is only human as well. My problem is that I just react like a Rottweiler and then love it when I do.

  10. Kathy

    I m a retired registered nurse(American) and I m appalled at that nurse’s behavior toward you! Anyone who cannot treat every patient with dignity , respect, and compassion should not even be a nurse!!! I hope the rest of your stay goes smoothly and that you can avoid having to see her again!

  11. Zubeyde Erdem

    Ohhhh, I’ve been trying to read especially every latest post that you posted again or current shares in your FB account to give you some right support while you are in hospital. Because they were making it quite easy to understand which or what kind of psychology you are in. ( Up to A rose is rose is by Sisley ) everything was looking quite alright as a super sensitive and especially one of his organ out of five can still sense while he is sleeping person.I mean, of course, you are /were in pain but also showing too many improvements and sharing those things with us from the very early stage of your hospital days. They were starting from stating your different phobias up to your first little steps. As for me, you were not only annoying about foods, lights, other patients , private room but showing also your psychological state . I could see that you are/were also walking through into that bloody though “recovery” path needs quite good psychological and physically state to reduce the side effects of trauma /s ( you are getting for being a patient ) to the minimum level.

    I swear N I truly understand you in every aspect of this matter. Not once I was over there for four times. Having very important surgeries, staying in hospital in long terms, quite painful recovery periods, and of course most important thing is a “waiting time” for the “real” result ,foods , lights, other patients, visitors, even the design of garden/s of hospital do really matters , bothers of you !
    Because you are well proofed , certified, declared person that at least one of your body is mul or dis functioning or whatsoever and you must have a surgery to be “fixed up” ! And you know what the doctors of course they will try their best but since they are not God or some equivalent power of that they cannot make you sure 100% that the result will be perfect. So, these are the “things” that you are mainly going to face it.
    Sorry, I’m little late to give some useful advices that you may need since you have just 5 days left to leave there besides I believe it will not make any sense at you because any how you will follow your basic instincts as mostly as any person do.
    My dear friend N most probably hospital will became like a prison after a while because after operation you will became a dependent person by losing moving ability by yourself for some uncertain time. That can cause you a kind of feeling of “trapped” in unwanted place. You may gaze the windows for long times during this stage.
    I guess, once if you start to feel like you trapped you will also start to questioning yourself which can became like black hole at the end under certain recovery pressures. That’s really quite frightening. So ,to control or ignore that fear base feeling you may get more sensitive or over reacted with simple matters which you were not paying attention at all before going into hospital. Foods, lights e.t.c.
    Never empathize with other patient in your ward. (That’s quite impossible for you because how many times I smelt , felt the huge
    passion underlying in your brain f…. posts) .Thats makes your pain double. I.e : the old lady who has forgetting she had broken legs and trying to stand up in every 5 minutes and then screaming most probably in pain and driving you crazy. ( in fact, you were consuming her pain into yourself because you were in same pain , very easy to smell same pain scent for your nostrils, sighhh ! How lovely you tried to cover the situation : hey guys , I’m happy to see that lady finally find a friend… )
    I’m upset ,I’m angry, I’m perturbed,I’m deranged and trying to control all my feelings once more . I’m trying to explain my disorder, not calming down, looks like a mess perceptions in a logical manner so that why I’m feeling in that way ( = how I felt pity on you ).
    And finally the “nurse” ! As for me, she is supposed to be educated on her medical field. More or less she is supposed have an idea what kind of psychology the patients can have under some certain pressures. She must not take any risk for her action’s that you may whether tolerate or not consequences of her action while you are in mood of that nothing really more matters for you except walking ! In some way, she looks like crucial, not moral, very disturbing. Does she really care about your ” health” ? Whose action is more immoral ? What if you are not able to do right , moral, or perfectly simple thing because of being under those circumstances ? When I saw my hands after operation for the fist time I was fainted because of afraid. They were looking like alien hands with uncountable stitches and fresh implant skins from my legs. All I wanted to know is really am I able to hold something else or use my hands at all and how it could be come closer to a normal person hand looking. I was around 16 years old and trying to “recovery” not only my hands but also too many fears under some verbal ” compliments ” of young intern doctors . It was simply very disturbing, stressful , crucial , disgusting while all my concern was only my alien looking hands. I couldn’t able to scream that time because my county’s moral dynamics as a women. It was not really abuse they were praising me. Doesn’t / didn’t matter. You are under a very stressful position that you may lose or gain properly functioning ability of your some part of body while you are still alive ! That’s enough more than hell. No more please , even for a piece of cake !
    Overall, you did really great job over there. I don’t meant the nurse matter but the whole your recovery progress. I had/have too many cracks with leaking unwanted human scents I can still continue more about those “days / memories/wounds/perceives/ fears/ being experienced with real situations/ more closely think about death because after losing your health one step later it comes naturally to one’s mind /scents of being human being but I’m afraid this will became a boring book instead of a comment.
    Finally, thanks to everyone that took a place in my life at those time. I don’t have perfectly shaped two beautiful hands but functioning 100% properly. Plus too many black and white scenes. I must watch that someone else’s movie once more AGAIN : The Butterfly Effect. One of my favorite one 🙂

  12. Talk about having a most interesting hospital stay. I feel that nurses behavior was very unprofessional. Even if you did say something that was taken the wrong way, she had no right to treat you the way she did down in X-ray, nor did the X-ray tech have the right to be so abrupt with you. I hate when things like this happen to people when they are most vulnerable. I hope the rest of your stay will go smoothly and all will work out well for you.
    You will be home soon enough, that is a great thing.

  13. Lilybelle

    What a great read! Like a novel. I love experiencing Japanese people and culture through your eyes. It’s fascinating. I hope your knees/legs are stronger. Keep your chin up. ♡

  14. David

    Your story reminded me when my partner was hospitalized in Tokyo for colitis. Let’s just say he does not suffer fools gladly. We had a few fights over this because I come from the kill-them- kindness school…..I remember once we were on the train and 2 people were talking bad about gaijins– oh, he let them have it. Of course, I was mortified. But I know his treatment over the years in Japan was so much worse than mine. We don’t need to go into Japan’s racism here. Oh, Japan…. I love things like going to the post office and picking out seasonal stamps….I miss my excursions to temple gardens just to see peonies or bush clover…. the occasion of the seasons, how lovely it is….but then I think about working there and I am snapped back to memories that make my stomach churn and my head bring on a migraine. No place is perfect I suppose.
    Anyway, don’t worry about what went down in the hospital. Everybody knows it’s not easy to be in there for so long. You survive and get through it in your own way.

    • I am clearly your hot-headed partner and you are Duncan!

      Actually she is behaving QUITE weirdly still and I am not at all comfortable around her.

      Troubling…. not sure if I should request that she not deal with me any more.

      There is a very strong mutual antipathy now.

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