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Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007

JAPAN LITE

Hospitals — just no place for prudery


Two weeks ago I would have said that very few people in this world had ever seen my private parts. Now, I can say plenty have — mostly doctors and nurses.

Because when you enter the hospital, no matter what your surgery, all your body parts are treated equally. Despite what the porno magazines and the women's fashion magazines would like you to believe, your body parts are all just that — body parts. It's only society and conditioning that make us believe otherwise.

And despite the fact that one body part might be at fault for having gotten you into the hospital in the first place, nonetheless, all your body parts are in this life together, each doing its own special job.

And so I learned, a hospital is no place for prudery.

I entered the hospital for a routine operation — to have some UFOs removed. I don't know how the UFOs got there, and the doctor didn't seem particularly worried about how they got there, but since the spaceships seemed intent to stay and grow in my abdomen, he thought they should be removed. After all, my abdomen is not zoned residential.

So I scheduled the removal of the UFOs, which required a two-week hospital stay.

As I packed my bags to go to the hospital, I couldn't help feel like I was leaving on a long holiday. How absurd! But with a private room with toilet and shower, a refrigerator, telephone, cable TV, a DVD player and the lure of wireless Internet, it was looking pretty darn good.

I had prepared a rather mysterious bag of tricks to take with me. I had been told beforehand to amass a list of necessary things to take with me to the hospital, many of which I had no idea what they would be used for.

One thing on the list was a yukata. How elegant, I thought, as I envisioned myself prancing around the hospital and fanning myself in my summer kimono. Then I realized it was probably the type of yukata they give you at hotels in Japan to sleep in. The ones you put on after the bath and wake up in the morning all tangled up in and bound up with by the obi. Or maybe there was a special hospital yukata.

On high hopes it was the summer kimono type, I went to a department store to get advice on what to buy. The lady politely showed me to the most expensive hospital yukata, ones made out of soft, pajama material. They also had the coarse cotton ones you get at Japanese hotels. I picked out a nice expensive one.

I didn't realize that my expensive hospital yukata would become so blood soaked, I would never be able to wear it again. Because the yukata is what they put you in right after surgery, and face it, surgery is a bloodbath.

I was trusting this doctor, who I had only met once before in my life, with sharp implements. He would probably cut me open with a samurai sword. I didn't even ask to see his resume, which could have included a stint as a sushi chef or a summer pirating in the Caribbean.

Two other things in my bag of tricks were disposable underwear and a fukutai, or belly belt. Hmm.

Upon arriving at the hospital, the nurses were extremely disappointed when they found out I spoke Japanese. "Oh, but we studied English so hard!" they lamented.

The head nurse reluctantly handed over a translation of her introduction she had generated through some translation software on the Internet: "I take charge, and I am Miyuki of the nurse. To a discharge, I will take care. Other nurses call so that I am replaced at the age of a holiday. Thanking you in advance."

A doctor came in and introduced himself as the "assistant doctor." He and the other doctor would perform the surgery together. Great, another person I didn't know but was trusting with sharp implements. Make that two samurai swords.

In the morning, at 9:30, would be my operation. . . If you see a column about the operation next week, you'll know I survived.



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