Since we know that everything we see in anime accurately represents Japanese culture, I can make this statement with confidence: long hospitalizations are far more common in Japanese health institutions than in those in America. I bet most anime fans can count off the number of shows featuring characters who are on bed rest in hospitals. In America, though, we generally try to get people out of hospitals and back home, unless they’re in critical condition.
The thing is, this trope is quite charming. Bedpans, IVs, and injections be darned – there’s nothing more pleasant than a teenage girl or boy quietly reading a book in a hospital with visitors in tow.
Of course, it’s a little different when you’re the one in that situation. I’ve never been hospitalized before, so it was a new experience for me to have to remain in a hospital, away from family, work, and home. Thankfully, it was for only two days, but even in that amount of time, I learned something about myself (and others). Ain’t in funny how being in a hospital makes you think?
Usually in service-type professions, the employee stays while the customers come and go. But when you’re hospitalized, you’re the one staying while the employees come and go and then leave for the day, before returning the next day. The patient’s point of view is almost a bird’s eye one – I felt like I was above, watching various people go throughout their day.
Strangely enough, I started having strong feelings for almost everyone that had a part in caring for me – either positive or negative. I would catch them at specific moments of their day and that would give a reflection of how I felt about them. If one technician was in a bad mood, I’d picture her as a grumpy person and dislike her, because I felt as a patient, I was owed that person’s best.
Whether it was getting caught up on rest or simply the excitement of knowing I’d be out soon, by the second day I had become more empathetic. This grumpy tech may have been having a bad day – heck, it must be hard to be cheerful at all in a health care setting.
My family, too, went through a difficult time while I was away. They were much more stressed and pressured than I was. While I was between quiet white walls, they had to make their way through the day without my help and knowing that I might have to undergo a procedure.
All this gave me the strength to be empathetic which, quite frankly, is an action I rarely exhibit. I was able to sit and listen to complaints and try to heal deep divisions that had erupted in my absence. And for once, I felt like I was being a peacemaker and not a divider.
The trick is this, though. As I walk out of this bed and back to normal life, I need to bring with me the lesson I learned and become a better man, not for two days, but permanently. And if that happens, I can certainly say that in more than one way, the best part of being the boy in the hospital bed is walking away from it.