Notes from the Women’s Ward

Me and my soulmate, Toshiko! in our hospital room

Me and my soulmate, Toshiko! in our hospital room

I just got out of the hospital and although my ordeal is over, I now carry with me the memory of many women. I was on the OB-GYN ward so I met many people who had cancer and were undergoing long periods of chemotherapy. And yet every one of them was so positive, so cheerful. One lady (Lady L) who is told she may have 3 years to live says she is tired of chemo and will have “no more!”

I was asking each person what they most wanted to do when they get well. This woman replied,

“Just everyday life.Cook for my husband. Go to work again.”

She left the hospital five days before me and was dressed so elegantly in a white suit and picture hat! In fact, it’s thanks to her that I got well-acquainted with my roommate, Toshiko.

 

Lady L leaves the hospital (image photo)

Lady L leaves the hospital (image photo)

These days, each patient in the 4-bed room keeps the curtain around their bed drawn all day, and they never talk to each other. It also cuts off all light and air to those who aren’t fortunate to have a bed by the window! So when Lady L came to our room to chat, she grabbed hold of the curtain and pulled it all the way open. “That’s better! More light!”

After that Toshiko and I chatted and discovered we have much in common, especially a love for reading. She likes to travel and last year went to India and to England. One of the things we discussed was the super-mini diet they had us on. Only 450 kcal per meal! Sometimes we laughed at how tiny the piece of meat or fish was! The idea is that an invalid spends most of the day in bed and gets little exercise so is actually better off with fewer calories! So they plan 1400/day for women over 50!

Toshiko stuck to this diet and lost 2 lbs during the 9 days. I had extra treats brought in by Hiroo and ended up the same as when I came in! Wish now that I had followed her example!

IMG_6077

Tiny piece of fish hides behind a little shrimp!

After the fourth day, I felt better and walked around the ward. That is when I met so many delightful women.

Many had serious health issues, but all shared this upbeat attitude! I can’t believe all the friends I made there and how anxious people were to talk to me! I felt like a celebrity!

New friends!

New friends!

 

I invited several ladies to visit me and I look forward to meeting them again. But I still wonder at what exactly took place on that ward when I was there. Foreigners are no longer rare and attractive items in Hiroshima, but it just seemed like everyone wanted to be my friend! I can’t explain it. It was kind of serendipity! God must have planned it that way!

Tomoko and Toshiko promised to come to my English Bible Cafe at the farm! They were the ones who expressed interest in that!

The one question I kept asking each person was what they wanted to do when they got well. Here are some of the answers.

“I want to just take it easy.”

“I want to get together with all my friends and have lunch.”

“I want to visit you and have you make me a pizza!”

“I just want things like they normally are.”

My last night there, Miyuki was roaming the halls. It seems there was some mix-up and her dinner tray never came. It was her first night there and she seemed very upset so we spent time talking. She is in her 80’s, I guess. She kept coming back to  my room, even after she finally got some dinner. She said, “If I can’t sleep, can I come and sleep with you?”

Miyuki and I

Miyuki and I

“Sure, we’ll just push these two beds together and you can sleep in the middle,” I told her.

Keeping a Positive Attitude

Before surgery, I was quite apprehensive. I am not very stoic when it comes to pain or needles in my spine! The anesthesiologist  was going to insert a tube in my spinal cord while I was wide-awake! No way!! I opted to be put to sleep and use another kind of injection.

The words that sustained me when I was scared are from Psalm 91

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, ” I will rescue him;

I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.

“He will call upon me and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him..”

I kept repeating this promise and trusting that God would take care of me. I was able to stay calm and things went well. Later, I talked to one young woman in my room who has cervical cancer. I guess we were talking about pain and she said “I’m a big scaredy-cat like you, Leah.” Ha Ha Ha She got that right!

I met so many women going through cancer surgeries, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. All of them were facing up to the chemo and radiation,  and repeated hospitalizations. Yet they acted so positively. I wonder if the camaraderie on the ward helped them deal with it. Will they be be depressed or scared when they go back home and are all alone?

How do each of us deal with our fears or our pain? I couldn’t do it without God. He is always with me and giving me courage. I don’t know if I will ever have to face cancer as they are, but I trust that , no matter what happens, God will be with me each step of the way.

One last thing I want to say to all my Japanese friends. Please go for regular breast cancer and cervical cancer check-ups! So many Japanese women told me they never go! That is so wrong as we have a good chance of recovery if we detect it soon enough! For my sake, please make an appointment today!

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beckynielsen
    Jul 05, 2014 @ 19:49:41

    Dear Leah, Am glad your surgery is behind you now. What a blessing you must have been to so many women. I know they were blessings to you, too! It is these times when we face fear or pain that we really let down the barriers, open to what is most important in life, and draw closer to each other.
    The Psalms are so perfect for those times that fill us with anxiety. And I also use one of the prayers from Compline in the Book of Common Prayer: “Guide us waking, guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.”
    love to you,
    becky

    Reply

  2. leahmama1
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 11:47:31

    Thank you, Becky. It’s the first time I have heard that beautiful prayer. I want to remember it. It is really good to hear form you!

    Reply

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