Winter food, a trumpter, and Doctor-san


Today I learned about おでん (oden), a winter dish that consists of boiled egg and cabbage, and is commonly sold at just about any convini (convenience store) for ¥100 (about a dollar).  From the same class I also learned that one of the women’s ex-husbands is a man named Kunitachi, a famous trumpeter the other students had heard of, who teaches at Tokyo Music College.

I have private lessons three times a month with a doctor who likes to take over the class and treats our sessions as practice medical lectures.  I find that I’m getting better at down-shifting out of teacher mode and into student mode.  This makes our lessons go very smoothly, since all he needs are small corrections here and there, and otherwise I can just enjoy a fascinating talk about medicine.  He gets the English practice he wants, and I learn something new and strange every week.  Let’s call him Doctor-san.

Doctor-san sat down at the table today, and pulled out a bag of old medical tools, including some rusty scalpels that made me very nervous, but he handled them with confidence as he admitted to being unkind to the surgical assistants back in the day.
Here’s what I learned at today’s session:
-A person who holds tools for the surgeon is called a lancet, after the person who held lances for a knight (although I think this was the job of the squire).
-A hook holder is a tool that dilates openings in a patient’s body so the surgeon can have a clear view of the job (this task falls to the newest surgeon, and it’s apparently a very difficult job, standing perfectly still, holding a hook holder for hours at a time).
-A double-sided blade is for amputation: cutting the top half of the leg first, then the bottom half without letting go of the tool that would have become slippery with blood by then.
-Scissors that are curved at the tip are called Cooper’s scissors, and are so designed to allow a surgeon to see what she’s cutting while the tool is in a tight space, or a tunnel (vein).
-A zondel is a narrow metal rod that “investigates anal tube.”  I became hyper-aware of how he handled it with his bare hands.
-There are at least two types of scalpels: one that has a narrow and slender blade, the tip of which is used inside the body, and is held with a “pencil grip.”  The other has a shape most people would find more familiar, and is used to cut the body open (the part of the blade used is different, and could be called the monouchi if it were a Japanese sword).  It’s name is something about “with a belly,” which describes its shape wonderfully.  It’s held with a “violin bow grip.”


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