Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Canadian Patient, Part 2

This is the ending to The Canadian Patient, Part 1 story. If you haven’t read the beginning yet, follow the link to see what you’re missing out on.

Part 1 of the story ends with:

At 2am, something happened.

And the challenge I pose to my students in class is to think about what happened. Before you read, feel free to take a guess at the ending to the story in the comments here or wherever the story was linked from.

So, without future ado, here’s Part 2 of the story:

At 2am, Yuki was with the other nurses at the nursing station, and they heard a clatter from the hallway, as if someone was marching down the corridor. They looked out from the station and saw the Canadian patient, head bandaged, hospital gown flapping open in the back, saying, “I’m going home! I’m going home!”

There were several problems with the situation. One was that the Canadian patient didn’t know he had hit his head skiing, didn’t know he was in the hospital, and didn’t speak Japanese. Furthermore, it was February in Nagano, which meant the outdoors was cold, so he wouldn’t last long outside in a hospital gown and no slippers.

Another problem was that none of the night shift nurses spoke English, and the regular doctors, who could speak English, had all gone home for the night.

So what did they do, you ask?

According to Yuki they hugged the patient and pushed him back into his room, saying, “ダメダメダメ!” (Translation: No no no!)

The situation ended up being stressful for everyone involved, and this was the impetus for Yuki to start studying English again, which she did for six years or so before I met her when I moved to Nagano in 2000.

At this point I usually add some notes in class regarding the moral of the story, telling my students that studying English at a private language school for six years is expensive, and they have the chance to study the language while they’re in university, so I encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity that they have so they can avoid such uncomfortable situations themselves and so that they can use that English language study money for other things.

The Canadian Patient, Part 1

Image of boy getting his head bandaged
Photo thanks to wiseGEEK. Visit their page to learn something new.

This isn’t my story; it’s my wife’s Yuki’s. A few other titles I’ve used for this story when I’ve told it to my students in the past include:

  • The importance of English for health care in Japan
  • Why Yuki started studying English

Before I get into the story itself, I have to establish a bit of the background to the story. Yuki is a nurse, and completed her university training in Nagoya, worked there for a time, and then moved back to Nagano, to Nakano City to work in her hometown hospital, Nakano Hokushin Hospital. During school and university, she didn’t particularly like English, and never did very well at it as a subject, although she got by. After she got her nurse’s license and started working in Japan, she quickly forgot most of what she had studied.

Nagano’s background is that, after Yuki moved back, it was selected as the host city for the 1998 Winter Olympics. This meant that Nagano, until then a relatively unknown backwater popular in Japan, but not on the world stage, was suddenly thrust into the limelight. This meant that foreign tourists began flocking to the prefecture to get a taste of its winter sports. Some of these tourists ended up injured during their stays and had to visit the local hospitals.

Nakano Hokushin Hospital’s story is that it’s the main hospital for the resort towns surrounding Nakano City, including Nozawa Onsen, Murodo, Yamanouchi Town and the Shiga Mountain Resort, and Takayama Village and its ski resorts. Thus skiers and snowboarders injured on these mountains have to take the long ambulance ride down to Nakano City for treatment.

This is where our story starts, with the Canadian patient suddenly stopping on his way down a mountain in Shiga Resort by slamming his head into a tree. Concussed, he fell unconscious, and so the ski patrol sent him on the trip down to Nagano Hokushin Hospital.

At the hospital, the doctors did their exams and concluded that he had to stay in the hospital overnight until he woke up. At around 5pm the daytime doctors finished their shifts and left, and at 6pm the night shift nurses arrived. That night Yuki was one of the night shift nurses, and she went through her usual shift routine with the Canadian patient unconscious in his hospital bed.

Then, at 2am, something happened.

This is where I usually stop the story during class and then I finish the story during the next class. The question I ask students is, “What do you think happened at 2am?” Feel free to share your guesses in the comments, here or wherever you found this page linked from.

Want to know what happened? I’ve shared the ending to the story here.

Wondering why I wrote this?

I share stories with my students during class, what Tim Murphey calls split stories, where I stop right at the climax and students have to wait to hear the rest of the story, and guess at the endings for themselves.

The next steps involve the students narrating the stories themselves into videos, and some have remarked that they didn’t fully understand the stories, and so wanted to be able to read them. And so here I am, writing some of them out. I seems a waste to write them only for my students, though, so I’m blogging about them here so more eyes can enjoy them than just the students enrolled in my classes.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you thought about the story, either here or wherever else you happened to have found a link to get to here.

The Ramen Story

As my sister reminded me, she hasn’t given permission for the public dissemination of this story, so please consider all events described here as speculative in nature; my vague and very likely inaccurate after-the-fact understanding of purely hypothetical happenings. Any relation to actual events is intended exclusively for comic entertainment.

First, a bit of background. As I suppose is the case with many children of military families, mine moved from place to place when I was very young, starting in Iowa, then to Georgia, next to Germany, and then back to Maryland. We stayed in Germany until I was in the second grade, and the important part of that experience to this story is that there was hardly any children’s television that I could watch there. As an officer in the Army Dental Corps, my father’s family could live off base, and so we did, in a small German town, and we got the local German television which was almost exclusively not in English.

But this story isn’t about our time in Germany. It is instead about a time after we moved back to the US from Germany, to Maryland, where we had a television that did get prolific amounts of children’s programming, specifically on Saturday mornings, when my parents would be sleeping in, and so there were no adults around to tell us to turn off the television and do our homework or go outside.

Thanks to this lack of adult supervision, I quickly learned at exactly what time the Saturday morning cartoons that I liked to watch started, and my Saturday morning ritual became waking up just before that time and going downstairs to watch my cartoons, which would stay on until about noon, when I would resignedly turn off the television and go do something else.

However, as with most stories, this one isn’t exclusively about me, the protagonist, but it also includes my two younger sisters. My youngest sister, Mary, has always gotten up early, and so she would wake up with me on Saturday mornings and I would fix some food for us, perhaps some cereal, and then we would watch television together.

My middle sister, Angela, on the other hand (please keep in mind that similarities in names to actual sisters are purely coincidental) has always, even to this day so far as I know, enjoyed sleeping in. And so after Mary and I were well fed and watching our cartoons, Angela would come sauntering down the stairs expecting some food for herself.

This story is about one of those Saturdays, when Angela woke up late, as usual, and came downstairs hungry. She strut into the living room, up next to the couch where Mary and I were watching TV, and my imagined memory of the conversation that transpired went something like this:

Angela, “Theron, I’m hungry.”

Me, “I see.”

“I want to eat something.”

“Good.”

“I want to eat ramen.”

“OK.”

“I want you to cook me ramen.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You can make your own ramen.”

“I don’t know how.”

“There’s instructions. Read the instructions.”

“I can’t read.”

“There’s pictures. Look at the pictures.”

“Oh.” After this, Angela (not my real sister Angela, mind you, but a fictional character with a surprisingly similar name to hers) stalked off into the kitchen and I kept my eyes glued to the television.

About two or three minutes later, Angela came back out of the kitchen and asked, “How long do I cook the ramen?”

My reply was “Three minutes.”

Two minutes later a scream comes from the kitchen, “Theron! Theron! It’s on fire! It’s on fire!”

I jump up from the couch, run into the kitchen, and find a cup of ramen in the microwave, with the microwave still running, and the styrofoam blackening, melting, bubbling, and smoking. I hit the stop button, open the machine, grab the ramen cup with oven mitts, throw it in the sink, then run water over it. Once the smoking has stopped, I turn to my sister and ask, “Why didn’t you push stop?”

Tearfully, she replies, “I don’t know! I don’t know!”

Being the protagonist, I then proceeded to make her a cup of ramen that didn’t smoke, blacken, and bubble, and we both breathed a sigh of relief that neither of us had woken our parents as a result of the episode. Or at least that’s how this story is ending, since I’m the one writing it.

The problem, if you haven’t figured it out by now, was that she took the empty ramen cup and put it in the microwave for three minutes without adding any water to it. Or, rather, I should say that the Angela in this story did that, not my actual sister Angela, whose middle name is in fact different from the Angela I’m talking about here.

Wondering why I wrote this?

I share stories with my students during class, what Tim Murphey calls split stories, where I stop right at the climax and students have to wait to hear the rest of the story, and guess at the endings for themselves. This story I stop at the, “It’s on fire!” part and then students have a week to think about the story.

The next steps involve the students narrating the stories themselves into videos, and some have remarked that they didn’t fully understand the stories, and so wanted to be able to read them. And so here I am, writing some of them out. I seems a waste to write them only for my students, though, so I’m blogging about them here so more eyes can enjoy them than just the students enrolled in my classes.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you thought about the story, either here or wherever else you happened to have found a link to get to here.