The Foreigner (alternative title: Waking up in the Hospital)

For my friend Timira Cobbs, so she can imagine being there with me.


My eyelids drag themselves open. I am still in shock that my body actually experienced unconsciousness during the night, sometimes known as sleep. The anticipation of sleeping is always more fun than the actual night here, it seems.


I feel discomfort from my back. I feel tightness from my legs. My head is confused. My curious mind begins the visual journey.

The empty television screen in front of me is framed with cabinets and clipboards for the use of both nurse and patient. The walls are all the same color, decorated with information and outlets and buttons. The information resembles art; I’m in Taiwan. It’s all in Chinese.

In my arms, I clutch my stuffed and synthetic canine companion. Moving my body reminds me that my knee is restricted by medical wrap and tubes, connecting my fresh incisions to some kind of collection pump. The unkind tug on my arm reminds me of the fluid constantly feeding my bloodstream.

Soon I am no longer alone. White-robed men enter my foreign quarters. The doctor speaks to me in English. My mind leaps at understanding. One to two weeks. Successful surgery. Parental antibiotics. Monitoring the infection index. Pictures for mom. We removed the screw.

Suddenly in my possession are artifacts of the recent medical operation. My knee is writing her own story! I whisper a prayer for healing. Now my body must settle here, in an uncomfortable bed, surrounded by another language.

The nurses are kind. The neighbors on the other side of the curtain are friendly. I practice my Chinese. I feel so small sometimes, so disconnected, so foreign. Then visits and gifts from friends and family usher in smiles and laughter that wash away all the negativity, all the loneliness. My new home is filled with joy and peace and Chinese.

At the end of the day my eyelids shield my mind from my surroundings. My soul rests in the gifts of laughter, food and love of the day. Every day, every prayer, every smile infuses the atmosphere around me. Everything is beautiful…

I cry out again for Jesus to heal my knee. Then I slip back into unconsciousness.
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One thought on “The Foreigner (alternative title: Waking up in the Hospital)

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  1. Thanks V! I'm so glad I can see it now… and little do you know that while you're unconscious, I keep coming in to sit and read to you. I'm like toys: I only show up when you're not looking:) Beautiful description. Hang in there you sexy foreigner, you: I love you.T

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