Olivia Volunteered at a Hospital in Japan
Taken from Olivia’s blog
Monday, July 1, 2013: woah, woah updates and CANADA DAY
Working in the general surgery ward for the past week has already been so rewarding. The head nurse Shinga san really enjoys practicing her English with me and is certainly a pleasure to work with. The nursing staff are incredible and we’ve already enjoyed a (painful) pick up volleyball game together. They now know that I’m eager to learn and want to help wherever I can so they call “Olivia chhaaannnnn” down the hallways and I answer “Haiiiiiiii” (like, “I’m here!”) and then send me off to bring a patient to have a CT scan or an ECHO done or to bring blood samples to the hospital lab. I’ve been kept very busy! The nurse aids Mizota san and Igeta san are two angels who deal with my “ummm I caught maybe 10% of what you just said” face very well and are patient and understanding with me. Usually I just follow them until they point to the thing they wanted me to do and I understand and say “ahhhhhhh. okay. Wakarimashita.” I understand. Then we laugh. They also enjoy my really corny jokes. Well…that is if they’re laughing with me and not at me, but to be honest I can’t tell the difference so I’m going with they think I’m funny.
The greatest experience so far though has been the interactions I’ve had with some of the patients. First there’s Miss Fruits, Kudamono san. I call her that because she’s obsessed with fruit and likes to share with me (shh). We’ve shared an apple watching the Onga River as is rises during a heavy rain and yellow kiwi watching a New York Yankees baseball game. She is an absolute gem and I make all the excuses to visit her during my shift. Next there’s Bear Valley, Kumagaya san. She once introduced herself to me as Bear Valley (the literal translation of her Japanese name) and it’s stuck ever since. “Good morning Bear Valley!”. It get’s her every time. She enjoys speaking with me and we have wonderful chats together. She calls me her sunshine baby because I’m always smiling. All of the other patients in the ward are always smiling at me and saying hi. “Mr. Nakano san in room 812 wants to talk with you.” say the nurses. He even took pictures of me with his wife the other day. I feel so connected to them despite not really being able to say much. I’m going to call this emotional connection the Japanese fever, and I’ve certainly caught it. Everyone here is so easy to connect with right away and I feel like we’ve been friends forever. It’s been truly lovely getting to know the Japanese people and I find that making this connection is getting easier and easier the longer I stay here.
Today, Canada day, was also a very fun and exciting day at the hospital. I decided to go super patriotic and sport all of the red and white that I owned. I went to work looking like a Canadian flag exploded and I caught the most of the blast. I was a little nervous showing up in the morning and asking the head nurse Shinga san……”is this okay?” but she loved it and said “yeah! It’s fine!” I think the little Canadian pins I offered as a gift to the staff saying “today, we’re all Canadians” won her over. It was excellent. With another spot of luck, I ran into the Director of the Hospital, Tanaka incho sensei, and had a huge surprise visit from Aso san, the CEO of the ASO company and the ASO Iizuka hospital. I’m pretty sure he was lovin’ my Canadian spirit.
Today was also the first day of Tanabata, star festival held about Japan in July. So I spent a good part of the afternoon setting up a sasa tree, decorating it and writing wishes with patients to hang from the tree.
I can’t wait for sushi tomorrow night with the doctors from English class.