CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Please Close the Door

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By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto

(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on July 21, 2010.)

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[Am beginning to wonder if that dreaded affliction known by so many different names has finally caught up with me.  To some it’s no more than “Big deal, so I forgot your mother’s maiden name.” Frustrating but not catastrophic is when you inadvertently mix up the names of your grandchildren. Birth dates and anniversaries are totally out of the question. Discovering your glasses on top of your head is more relief than despair. But for a writer when a blank white page remains a blank white page, flares burst amid bells and whistles, emergency oxygen mask drops and blood pressure spikes. Doubt begets uncertainty. I shall overcome. I think. If James Joyce survived without punctuation marks, why can’t I manage without Red Bull of purple’s majesty?]

Never the twain shall meet but being in a hospital is like being in jail. Think about it. No one wants to be in either but you have no choice. A higher authority deems it necessary that you be admitted. And there you remain until released, discharged, with papers and an indelible record. But oh what a difference when a patient rather than prisoner.

I can’t imagine Cedars-Sinai being mentioned in the same breath as central jail. But there are similarities.

Whenever requiring a test, checkup or medication (more than a dozen times a day), the nurse is required to check your I.D. wristband to make sure you’re who you are and post all relevant data on the computer. In my case, after the two most oft-asked questions regarding level of pain and frequency of b.m., my request was always a polite, “Please close the door.”  I guess some people like an outside look. I preferred privacy and quiet.

Speaking of politeness, a personal view point.

Taking a page from our elders, I have always held the belief that it’s easier to be courteous and pleasant than obnoxious and difficult. Sometimes there is an awfully thin line between obsequious and respect, being polite and kissing arse.

One day *50 people entered Room 7930, my private abode with a view of the Hollywood sign as well as Getty Center. They ranged from Dr. Johnson, el jefe of the whole floor, to late p.m. cleaner-upper, with a whole slew of doctors, PT/OT/RTs, nurses, aides, food service and volunteers in between. No matter the time of disruption or inconvenience, I always (tried to) maintain a friendly mien and understanding of their responsibilities. A 4 a.m. check of BP was always testing. (*How do I know? I counted. Hard to find ways to pass the time of day, don’tcha know.)

Remember how you felt when seated at a back table next to the bus boy’s station in a restaurant only half full?  Add a surly waitress to the mix and you have a menu for a less than pleasant evening out. You make the best of a bad situation and by evening’s end, the waitress has warmed to the occasion, the bus boy brings you shoyu and you over-tip. Not with the intention of returning but laying the foundation for a warmer experience for the next Nisei customer.

I have long contended that today’s level of Las Vegas (et al) acceptance of Japanese Americans dates back to the ‘50s and ‘60s when all manner of Nisei made positive public imprints. Same goes for good manners at sporting events. Public venues. Shopping centers. Freeways. Medical centers. “Those nice Japanese” becomes an automatic adjective.

In keeping within the parameters of CR2S’s Japaneseness, I earlier mentioned a Dr. Jaime D. Moriguchi. A reader has inquired why  a noted cardiologist (formerly of UCLA Med Center) would be involved in (my) spinal stenosis case. The prevalence of sharp-eyed Rafu readers never ceases to amaze.

Transparency requires me to point out that Dr. J is son Russ’ brother-in-law. And if that fact happened to translate into an advantage or two, oh my, what a coincidence. And also a bow to Yuri Ogawa (MSN, RN, PHN), patient relations rep.  She had read in the Rafu of my state of incognito but surmised from a descriptive clue that I had to be a patient at her hospital. She then proceeded to make my remaining days at CSMC as pleasant as possible. They should add sleuth to her list of titles!

For what it’s worth, I choose to cite one person out of the many memorable individuals I had the pleasure of meeting during my recently concluded sojourn: Dr. Ann Meyer of Rehab.

For whatever reason she gave the impression of being vitally interested in the life of an ailing, aging hedonist who’s life began on a chicken ranch. During her rounds she listened to a recitation of life in a wartime relocation camp, army volunteer and SC journalism graduation. She was a Bruin.

Unfortunately, for me, I was discharged before I could conclude reciting the rest of my life story. Since I don’t plan on going back, contentment will come with the memory of the Lady Doc with the big white purse and a bigger heart.
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W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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