Apple Country

Stories of rural life as an ALT in a northern Japanese fishing town.

The piggy back that went a bit wrong


My next post had intended to be about my parents’ visit to Japan and our adventures in Kyoto and jumping-spider-infested cabins in the middle of a forest. But things took a slightly different route when I went to Hakodate 2 weeks ago and made the life-changing decision (well in the short term anyway) to give my friend a piggy back. The first time it didn’t quite work; she didn’t quite jump high up enough for me to get a good grip on her legs. So we tried again but the slippery ground was not on our side and we just stumbled face-first into the ground.
We groaned/laughed until I realised something was amiss.
“Where’s my arm?” I asked in confusion, as I tried to retrieve it from what felt like a vortex that had opened up in the ground and pulled it under.
“Your arm’s right here honey…” my friend looked at me worriedly.
I sat on my arse and looked at it dangling over my leg. “I can move my fingers so that means it’s just a dislocation right? Right?!” I looked around hopefully.
Everyone stared back in alarm. Apparently I had a huge graze on my cheek as well but that was the least of my worries.
So I got carried away in an ambulance to the hospital where I learned I had badly broken my humerus and would require surgery to put it right. Goodbye snowboarding pass! At least I was able to enjoy a morning in Hakodate…
I thought I’d get surgery asap but for some reason hospitals in Japan aren’t open for consultations/procedures at the weekend so I was there for 2 nights, then had to spend 2 nights in my apartment before being hospitalised in this swanky new hospital an hour from my town.
After a week of living with a painful floppy arm, I finally had surgery on Friday!! They made an incision at either end of my upper arm and inserted a metal rod, fixed in place by a couple of screws.
This is what I had to deal with for a week:


Having now experienced my first major operation, it’s not something I’d like to repeat in a hurry… Although I don’t have much choice as I’ll have to have the rod taken out in a year!

I was led into the operating theatre and they began dosing me up with the general anaesthetic. I could feel myself going under as I lay on the table and the surgeon said “Can you heaaaar meeeee..?” as my vision started to sway and yes it was exactly like how they do it in the movies! Going under the anaesthetic felt like I was sliding down a black rainbow that took me on a magical mystery tour, where I was riding a roller coaster through another dimension. I spent what felt like the next 15 minutes on this acid trip, colours and shapes shifting before my eyes, before I actually opened them and saw the surgeon through the blur of my oxygen mask. I became aware of the sound of roadworks going on by my right shoulder and realised they were drilling screws into my arm. I started humming my favourite Chopin piece to myself as a distraction and the surgeon told me I was a good singer. Very bizarre experience.
Anyway it was over after about 2 hours and I was wheeled back to my room and had a pretty painful night, not helped by the nausea I felt from the anaesthesia every time I got up.

But I’m now on day 4 of recovery and it’s going well I think! Sometimes when I move a certain way my shoulder makes a sound like when you squeeze a ketchup bottle and there’s an air bubble in it. And my right arm is really chubby from the swelling and it just looks awful. But my occupational therapy lady is lovely and all the staff are as well, so I am being well looked after! Sadly my favourite nurse works the night shift so I don’t see him very much, except when he comes to check my IV in the night and in the mornings when he comes to my room for a chat. I’m just wondering when we’ll get married…
It’s quite nice being fed and having my room cleaned etc but obviously I would trade it if it meant I could go back to normality! I don’t have a wheely thing for my drip anymore so I’m free to climb stairs and get my fitness back to an acceptable level, woohoo. Can’t believe I’ve been here nearly a week! I think I’ll actually miss being here… I’ve had lots of lovely visitors come to visit me, including my other ALT friends, teachers and BOE colleagues who all keep bringing me cake and other nice things just to help me get even more fat while I’m in here.
As I have to come back in 6 – 12 months to get the rod taken out again, I can enjoy being looked after for a little while then. But for the next 3 months, I’ll just have to accept the fact I won’t be able to do very much… Driving included but I don’t think it’ll need that long really.
I’ve also decided to stay for a second year so my snowboard will have to wait for me until next year!

2 thoughts on “The piggy back that went a bit wrong

  1. Ha ha. I have seen that look before. So sorry you’ve had such an unlucky experience, but hope you’re out and about in Fukaura soon. X ps. No giving shoulder rides btw.

  2. Hi again! Well if you have still found the want to stay for another year under these trying times, then rest assured it must be the right decision for you! So happy that you have laid that big question to rest. Now just get well properly and sit and enjoy planning all your adventures to come next year
    😛 Lots of love x

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