Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ankle Surgery Rehabilitation (3 Weeks)

February 8th-March 4th
Hanna Central Hospital

After having Ankle surgery January 19th and spending one week at the hospital, I went back to Hiroshima for 2 weeks and just hung around with having the cast on my ankle and putzing around on crutches. I spend a few days in Kurahashi at Morimoto-Sensei`s clinic which was refreshing relaxing by the sea and staying at a traditional Japanese house.

Since I had a unique surgery performed by Dr. Kumai, he recommended I stay at his hospital in Nara and do rehabilitation with his staff to ensure proper rehabilitation and oversight from his team. At first I thought it was impossible to stay at the hospital for another two weeks to do rehab but with the doctor recommending so and realizing that it was the best situation, packed my bag and headed back to Nara again on crutches.

Getting off the Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka Station with my heavy backpack, I fell over on the platform and was fearstruck hoping that nothing had happened to my ankle. After a few minutes of the adrenaline settling down, didn`t seem to have any lasting pain in the ankle and just thought about how funny it was to fall in front of so many people waiting for the train. What a site that had to be for them.

Took a taxi from Ikoma station and arrived back at Hanna Hospital. As I was checking in at the front desk, by chance my suitcase that I had sent by post was just arriving at the hospital so I received that and headed up to my new room.

This time instead of having the 4-person shared quad room, it was a much smaller 3-person shared room. I had considering spending 50 bucks a day to have a semi-private room but decided to not waste money and do the group room. Later would find out how lucky I was to be in a room with the people I was.

First started talking to the guy next to me who was in the middle. His name was Kei Nanbara. While we were talking, the other guy in the room named Kensuke Takezawa came and introduced himself to us. Even from the beginning, I remember thinking wow these guys are pretty cool. It was Wednesday and they were both having ankle surgery the following day by Dr. Kumai so they were both very anxious and had lots of questions. It was fun being able to tell them what my experience was like and try and help calm their nerves.

I could already tell that the atmosphere in our room was going to be a lot different than my first experience at the hospital with the senior men. From the beginning, instead of having the curtains closed separating the rooms, we kept our curtains almost always open. It made the tiny rooms seem spacious and was fun to have an open room.
3 hospital "rooms" right here
if the curtains were closed could touch either side with arms haha
The first day back at the hospital was very exciting because in the evening the cast was going to be removed. I was almost more nervous to see what it was going to be like having the cast removed than having the surgery. I was thinking that after after the cast was removed, I would be able to tell if the ankle was fixed or not.

Went down to Dr. Kumai`s office and another guy cut off my cast and I couldn`t believe how much muscle my leg lost and how soft/squishy my calf muscle became. Once the cast was cut off, I couldn`t really tell how the condition of the ankle was because of how tender the ankle was.
However, it felt super good to have the cast cut off and I was looking forward to taking a hot shower. They gave me another speedracer brace and I put that on. Believe the same night went to ZeroFit to take a shower and it felt so good to not have to worry about keeping the cast dry and it felt like the warm water was healing my ankle. It was scary walking around with the ankle because without the protection of the cast, had to be a little more careful and couldn`t afford to make any mistakes.

The first night the three of us roommates chatted and they both were nervous for the surgery. Kei was very nervous about the pain and kept asking many many questions about it. It was comical how scared he was.

Between the two of them, the first to get the surgery the following day was Kensuke. The patient before him`s surgery was longer than expected so Kensuke was just waiting standby for an couple hours. We sat and played catch with a ball while he waited to be called to the surgery room. Finally he was called and I went down to the surgery room to see him off and wish him luck.
Kei was getting more nervous back in the room too.

Kensuke had came back and Kei went to the surgery room.
After both of their surgeries were done they both seemed pretty tired and it was fun to experience the whole process with them. That night they both seemed to be doing fine from the pain and we were all laying in bed after dinner in the evening. One of the nurses Kanda-san was about to give Kei the antibiotic IV needle and Kei got all nervous again about the pain. I said to the nurse, "the nighttime needle is pretty big isn`t it?" the nurse says something along the lines of "well, yeah, it is pretty big" and Kei says in a loud panicked voice "the nighttime needle!?!" and Kensuke catches on quickly and joins in messing around with the gullible 17 year old. After that, as I walked down the hallway to brush my teeth at the wash area, I was hysterically laughing and tears were running down my cheeks thinking about how scary the nighttime needle sounded. Maybe not the nicest jokes but thought it was pretty funny. Throughout the 3 weeks at the hospital together we would often joke about the nighttime needle.

This time at the hospital with planning to stay 2 weeks and already having an established group of people interested in speaking English everyday, I brought English conversation supplies from Hiroshima and planned on doing a more formal English conversation class everyday at 7PM. Within a couple days, we already had a pretty good sized group going and each class we would:

have a vocab test
listen to music and try to fill in missing lyrics
next weeks vocab
speaking point
pronunciation practice
and usually end with a game of hangman

They all caught on to the routine pretty quick and it was very fun seeing the daily progress in their speaking and confidence increase.
Masami and Noriyaki (previous members who left the hospital) joined this time too

English convo with before members, new members and PT staff
About a week or so into the English conversation class and on Valentines day, was a little burnt out from preparing for lessons each day and was wondering if people were even enjoying it much. I sent a message to the English group message and said that English conversation class was canceled that day because it was Valentines. One of the patients Hiyori came up to me later that day and said "we aren`t doing English conversation today..?" with a sad puppy faced expression and we ended up meeting that night and doing a mini speaking conversation class. Her asking my that question motivated me to continue doing English Conversation class almost everyday while at the hospital. If even 1 person can have a positive impact from what I was doing, it was totally worth it.

I was seeing the impact the English conversation had on the patients too. It allowed people from different backgrounds to connect and break the ice which can be tough to do in Japanese culture. When a 19 girl asks a 45 year old man how many boyfriends he has and the man is prompted to read from a card "13" it gives them both a reason to laugh at the hilarity of the situation.

It was fun introducing Kensuke and Kei to the other patients who were still in the hospital and other who would come back for rehab whom I met the last time I was at the hospital. We were quickly making friends with many people and it was starting to feel more like a college dormitory than a hospital.

It was fun doing rehabilitation everyday and seeing the ankle condition get a little better day by day.
Also it was fun seeing the other patients struggle through the pain haha.
I really enjoyed and appreciated all the help my Rehab doctor Yuusuke Kobayashi would do for me. He works closely with Dr. Kumai so knew my ankle condition well and has very good rehab skill.
He would even get to work early and meet me before work officially began to do a couple ankle mobility exercises I couldn`t do on my own.
One day when I was feeling pretty worn out from the late nights/early mornings and not napping much, he offered to just give me an hour massage instead of doing any ankle work exercises. He always tried his best to learn English too which was cute. I appreciated him carrying about me as a human and genuinely wanting to help me return to running.
Sometimes I would do rehab with Satake-Sensei who has really good skill. He seems to know so much about the ankle and rehab.
cant see his face but hes on the left hah
Tacchan practicing on the right

Our room was starting to become more and more fun and quickly we became friends with each other. Other people enjoyed the atmosphere of our room and would stop by and just hang out. The x-ray technician would stop by day several times to say hello and chit chat for a bit.
S stretch by Yuusuke and Sakamoto-san
Also the two nurses who were in the surgery room would stop by almost daily and talk for a bit. Everyday I looked forward to them coming.  It turns out, the nurse Okada-san wasn`t as scary and cold of a person as I had thought from the surgery day. :)
The doctors who would come in the room everyday pointed out how un-hospitalike our room was and thought it was like a men`s sports dormitory.
this picture captures the mood of the room well
I even put up a map of the US for people to see when they came in and so I could do a little US travel promotion to all the Japanese.
We would often have our room lights out during the day because more often than not, one of us in the room was napping (usually Kensuke hah). Also in the morning when the nurses would come by at 6AM and turn the lights on, I would walk over to the light switch and turn it off everytime and we would sleep until breakfast came at 7:30. The first time was in the hospital, had no idea we could control the lights (even though I don`t think we were supposed to) but since all of us in the room agreed upon so, we took it into our liberty to do so. Also we turned off the nightlight in the room which helped make it easier to sleep at night too. Overcoming these little things made it so rewarding for some reason. Haha.

I was so grateful to be in such a fun room. I found out the Kensuke was a professional runner with unbelievable credentials.
He ran the Beijing Olympics, has a remaining record at Waseda University, was a 3 year Hakone relay first place runner in his section and has run a sub 1 hour half marathon. His 5km PR is 13:19.
Image result for kensuke takezawa
407
 Check out his wiki page somebody made!
Some of the info might not be right though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensuke_Takezawa

The other roommate was a professional futsal (mini soccer) player at only the age of 17. His body was definitely more mature than that of a 17 year old but often was reminded of his youth while spending so much time together. Haha.
We would have deep conversations at night and it was a joke that we all needed to throw our phones out before speaking so we could have in depth conversations without distractions.
waiting in Dr. Kumai`s office before our examinations
Yuuya the rugby player who had already left the hospital invited the 3 of us to his house for dinner and we all had a good time eating pizza and spending time with his wife and 3 kids.
Everyday was doing rehab either 1 or 2 times, working out most days of the week, teaching English conversation and having too much fun. One of the nurses even told us we need to remember we are at the hospital to do rehab. haha

Became used to the weekly schedule of having new patients come in on Wednesday, them having surgery on Thursday and then becoming integrated with the rest of the patients that were hospitalized. It was very cool meeting so many athletes from all over. Some to mention are:

Rugby players
Yuuya Izumi (Osaka Police Team)
Koji (Honda
Dancers
Airi
Uzume
Rin
Yuki
Volleyball players
Hiroki
Gymnastics
Akiko
Hiyori
Climbers
Runners
Kensuke Takezawa
Masashi Eriguchi
Soccer Players
Kei Nanbara
2 other pro soccer players

Because of Dr. Kumai, Mr. Yoshizuro Shimano (Bicycle and Fishing company international president) was even doing rehab at this hospital. The first few times I met him, had no idea who his was but wondering a little bit about why he seemed so calm and confident. Later finding out he is a part owner of one of the worlds largest companies made sense. Haha.

Another fun patient who was fun to talk to was Yoshi. We were previously in the same room the first time I was hospitalized. He Has traveled all around USA and North America by motorcycle and has many stories.
him carrying hot coffee with his teeth! haha

I initially was scheduled to stay at the hospital for 2 weeks but after two weeks, Dr. Kumai said that I should stay another week. Then 3 weeks into the hospitalization, and after packing my bags to go home, met with the Dr. and he recommended another 3 days or so. Was a little stressful to stay longer than expected but because it was so fun to be at the hospital, was able to roll with the changes relatively easy.

It was fun going to the sports gym ZeroFit and see a bunch of people from the hospital there. Sometimes there would be about 7 of us there at a small sports gym. Yuuya and Kensuke and I took a stretch pole class and Kensuke, Akiko and I took a hot yoga class together. At the yoga class, Kensuke and I couldn`t perform all of the positions because of our ankles and one of the positions everyone was standing up besides Kensuke and the class was moving their arms up and down quickly. Kensuke couldn`t do this because he was sitting on all fours so he starts to thrust his back and head up down. I was laughing so hard started crying again.

Just about everyday I was brought to tears from laughing so hard and I can`t remember when I`ve had so much fun.

One of the staff invited us to go out to Wakakusayama together and do some site seeing. He drove us to the top and we walked around.He went through the trouble to pick us up on his holiday day, made CD of his favorite songs to listen to while we drove then gave it to me after and took us to a famous pudding shop and bought us souvenirs. He put so much thought and consideration into showing us around and I was very humbled by his graciousness.
During the stay one my friends came from Hiroshima and we went to Nara park and walked around. At that point, I could walk a little bit but kind of overdid it and took it easier after that.

Kensuke`s girlfriend Akie came often to visit and it was always fun seeing her. She was traveling alot for work so she would stop by at the hospital in Nara to see Kensuke.

Takagi-san, the old man who had left the hospital during my stay at the hospital, was re-hospitalized in the room across from me and Kensuke and I would greet him most days. His wife would often bring us treats to pass to the English group. It was nice to see his condition getting better and better each day.

It was fun going to the Circle K convenience store 2-3 times a day to buy coffee, snacks and best of all, the baked sweet potatoes. Everyday after going to take a shower at the sports club, would go to Circle K and buy sweet potatoes to bring back to the hospital and eat in the break room. Somedays would have 3 sweet potatoes and Kensuke has the record of 4 in one day.
We came so much that they started giving us free ones each time we went.
I got to know all 5 staff by name and they were always very friendly.
The baseball shop that had all of the Carp stuff`s owner gave me one of the few Carp jackets that they had in the shop as a leaving the hospital present. I gave it to Yuuya since he would get more pleasure out of it than me. Could`t believe how nice people were.

It seemed like progress with the ankle was very slow, but also very steady at the same time. My rehab doctor Kobayashi took a video of me walking with crutches a few days after getting the cast of and then a couple weeks of having the cast off and it was entirely different. After about 2 weeks could walk with no crutches fine, however the pace was quite slow.

This video was either the first or second day after having the cast removed. Can barely put any weight on the ankle and it is very tender. Whole body is weak! haha
video
Walking barefoot with brace on about 2.5 weeks after cast was cut off
video
With shoes was able to walk much better. About 3 weeks after the cast was off.
video
When I was able to, started going for walks outside everyday which was very refreshing. Despite walking very slow pace and feelings unbalanced, it was nice to be locomotion again with my own to feet after so much time.

I kept thinking to myself how grateful I was to be having so much fun during a time that could be lonesome and boring.

I was very grateful to meet someone like Kensuke and his situation humbled me very much. To be a such a high professional level of running then have to get surgery and not know if he can be able to run again has to be agonizing. It made my own problem seem less significant and more bearable. The day after Kei was released from the hospital, just Kensuke and I were having a heart-to-heart and I started crying from thinking about how tough it has been to not be able to run and from the relief of somebody being able to understand the feeling, and sympathizing with him having it even rougher than me.

Tommy from the Tigers again came and surprised me with another visit. This time he had an injury as well so we took a slow walk then exchanged massages. I hope that we are both in good condition during this baseball season!
A group of patients got together and went out to eat at a place called Osho. Yuuya, Kensuke and I shared 3 set meals and it was fun to have food other than the hospital food.
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the hospital meals. It was for the most part well balanced and very healthy. Posted a bunch of pictures on the first post. Almost all of the food was REAL food and there was not much processed stuff at all. I always looked forward to getting special attention from the cafeteria staff. After every meal, I wrote a small thank you note and would send it back with the dishes. It was always fun looking forward to the responses.

Towards the end of the stay, we would gather in the rehab room with the PT staff and patients and study each others injury and surgery at 5PM. It was so cool to see the genuine interest the PT staff had in learning the information as well as teaching us about it. Nothing made me feel better than this and made me feel that this is how rehab should be. Not going to a PT every couple days and the PT barely knowing your name/injury.

Returning the favor to Yuusuke
Toe torture to one of the younger PTs Tacchan. Makes feet strong though
Some other fun pics wanted to add:
hanging out in rehab room

all of us with gimp ankles

byebye to Mana 

The day before leaving Mr. Shimano gave me a copy of his book "This is My Road" which is a autobiography of his life he wrote in English. He also signed the inside cover.
As the time at the hospital wrapped up, it was more difficult than I had expected to say goodbye to everyone. Despite only being 3 weeks at the hospital this time and an additional week after surgery, it felt like I had spent months there after all the experiences that had happened. Being in a heightened emotional state from being nervous about how the ankle was doing also added the feeling of it being a long time. Also being together with the patients 24/7 was very fun and allowed for lots of interaction. This was no doubt the most Japanese language I`ve used in my life and it felt like I actually became able to speak after this. Some of the funny things I want to remember are:

ちくるぞ!
ばかまじめサツマイモ大好きなエロ外人
やっぱり....だめだ!
まとものは俺しかいない
君も鍛えればperfect body
サツマイモで閉めようっか...な!

I want to say thanks to all the Hanna Hospital Staff for being so kind and making the experience even more enjoyable. Sorry to break so many rules. haha

Hanna Doctors:
Dr. Kumai, Dr. Kevin, Dr. Matsui, Dr. Horiuchi, Dr. Kawaguchi, Dr. Iida

Hanna Nurses:
Maekawa, Kuwahara, Okutani, Okada, Yamamoto, Mishima, Yoshinaga, Yamasaki, Sawa, Chiba, Sharyou, Matsuki, Kanda, and many others

PT Staff:
Yuusuke Kobayashi, Satake, Tacchan, Tomemori, Higashi, Inoue, Chiba

The last day at English conversation the two gymnastics girls gave a large paper baseball that was signed by many of the patients, doctors and rehab doctors. Dr. Kumai even signed it!
Masami gave a large photo frame and lots of pictures. She always brought many treats to English class and even bought pizza for the group on one of the last nights.

Again, many of the patients walked me down to the lobby again to say goodbye and Kei and Akiko and I walked to the station together.
It was super sad to say goodbye to everyone and I was most sad to say goodbye to Kensuke. I genuinely care about his recovery and hope that we are able to run together in the near future. We made a promise to run Honolulu Marathon together and we will keep that.

I wrote notes to all of the patients that I  became friends with and passed them out before leaving. For some reason, I wanted to hide Kensuke`s for him to find later. What was funny was I later on the Shinkansen home, ended up finding a note that Kensuke had wrote and tucked into my bag. We both did the same thing. Hah.

It was pretty amazing to be able to walk to the station after just 3 weeks ago being in a cast and crutches. I still have a long way to recovery but it was nice to walk with my own two feet.

I`m still anxious about how the ankle will recover from here on out but just need to take slow, steady steps towards recovery.

I miss all the people at the hospital and miss the good rehab the most. Haven`t really found a good place to go to yet and am considering going back for a couple weeks for rehab.

Tiking the seconds away until I can run again.



Surgery timeline:
Hanna Hospital Surgery 1 week
Hiroshima 2 Weeks
Hanna Hospital Rehab 3 Weeks






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