SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

AHN Eun-byul “One day diary at my sickbed”

I had an operation for uterine fibroid and polyp removal on March 17. As the operation was simple, it was one-day hospitalization. I put off the operation for a year because I could not care about it because I had a doctoral dissertation. However, I got a surprisingly big bleeding one day before submission of my doctoral dissertation and made a quick re-check and reservation for an operation.  


Hospitalization in Japan was the first for me. I was hospitalized in South Korea ten years ago. So, I would like to compare hospitalization in Japan with that in South Korea in this essay. Korean university hospitals are something like busy complexes, and doctors and nurses seem to have lots to do and give only glances at patients. However, the hospital in the suburbs of Tokyo, where I was hospitalized this time, made me relax. I do not know why. They gave me their maximum attention despite their busy schedules. According to a Korean lady who has lived in Japan for more than twenty years, she was rejected to have an operation in Japanese hospitals and finally changed to a big hospital in Korea to have an operation. It is said that Korean hospitals weigh heavily on operations for the purpose of showing off their careers, and Japanese hospitals tend to avoid operations as much as possible. When we compare the clinical environment in Korea and Japan, we can find out their cultural tendencies: Korean hospitals value operations, while Japanese hospitals value care and nursing.


When I answered a medical questionnaire, I noticed a big difference between the usual medical checkup and ‘the assumed physical condition of the patient’. When I answered a medical questionnaire that asked me about my clinical history, usual pains and prosthesis, if any, I could imagine the daily life of elderly people and their speed a little. How are medical questionnaires used in other areas?


Since I started my study at graduate school in Japan, it has become my habit to observe everything through my ‘cultural comparison lens’ and contemplate the next research theme, though I could not reach any effective thinking. The meaning of ‘difference’ in experience between this time and ten years before was personal, and it may come from differences in disease and operation method. Or my memory might fade away because ten years have already passed. Such experiences as the operation and hospitalization I had as ‘different things’, may become important mental food for my future life. What kind of memory shall I keep? How do you imagine such memories? Such thinking will have ‘the power’ to make my experience.


The most memorable thing is waking up from the anesthetics. Ten years ago, when I woke up from the anesthetic, I was brought to the recovery room and left alone for thirty minutes, and I felt horribleness and the cold in the recovery room. Such feelings might make me hesitate to get an operation. However, I was moved to ‘my’ sickroom (my personal place) after the operation and could be relaxed this time. I had a mysterious and foggy happy feeling, which was confused with a daydream that I wanted to read any books when I sat up. I thought it unnecessary to be afraid of ‘general anesthetics’ hereafter.


Though the operation finished at noon, I did not take a nap, worrying about sleepless nights.

I kept reading books or looking video on YouTube in the afternoon. I read a book called ‘Think/Classify Sociology in Daily Life’ (by Georges Perec). In this book, he classifies ‘reading (action)’ in connection with ‘human Body’ and ‘surroundings(circumstances)’ in ‘Reading: A Social and Psychological Sketch’. As to ‘surroundings’, he classifies ‘time (while waiting for something)’, ‘means of transport’ and ‘others (like hospitalization)’. However, I think those factors are connected. It is ‘the time during which we wait for night’ or ‘the long flight time that has physical non-movement’. It is a long flight (from passage to recovery) toward the destination (discharge). I initially mistook it for ‘reading’. I had a feeling very often that I did not like to get off, even when I took a short flight or ride. The expression that processes are more important than purposes is not only an example of metaphor.


When I was in the hospital, I read the book “Wake Up! You, a freshman!” written by the late Kenzaburo Ooe. ‘Mr. H’, who is fighting diseases, said to ‘I’, ‘in the process of our lives, you may hurt others, or you may be hurt by others. And you may try to quit during your lifetime.

However, those questions cannot be settled during your lifetime. You will end up being allowed by the others whom you have hurt. Of course, you allow the others. There will be no choice.’


In this novel, ‘I’ who have a handicapped son, read and rely on a poem written by William Blake, an English poet, to overcome the fear of living his life. ‘My’ fear is that my son will live alone after my death. For ‘myself’, not only reading but also writing a novel is an itinerary for ‘overcoming’.

Of course, fears for living are not ‘the slate that can be cleaned’. However, when you read ‘words’ which record the appearance of relying on ‘words’, you can step forward in your future with courage and hope.


The hospital ward is very quiet, and I had to refrain from keyboard sounds. At midnight, I could hear the cry of a newborn baby. There is a stone monument in front of the hospital and the words of the Gospel John are engraved: “I am resurrection, and I am life”. 



SGRA Kawaraban 741 in Japanese (Original)



AHN Eun-byul/ 2022 Raccoon, Doctoral Course at the University of Tokyo



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sabina Koirala