Monday, 20 June 2011

My sister

At around midnight on Wednesday 18 May I had just turned my light out when my phone rang. It was my sister who lives in England. Over the past few years she has always seemed to have one bug or another and since February she has been struggling with pneumonia. She was often tired but would never take time off work to fully recover. Since January she had lost almost a stone and a half in weight but had put it down to healthier eating. The last time we skyped she was showing me how she could fit into her new size 10 skinny jeans. She continued to cough a lot and had to sit down frequently. She was calling me at midnight to tell me that she had just been to the doctor`s and been told she had lung cancer. She is 39 and and a non-smoker.

I didn`t sleep that night. The next day I went in to work with no clear idea of what to do. Thanks to CH who sat me down and talked through my options with me, I took three weeks of leave, went to Shinjuku and bought a ticket to England, went home and packed a bag, got on the train to Narita and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. Thanks to G for booking the hotel for me. The next morning I flew via Schipol to Norwich where my family lives.

Because of breathing difficulties, my sister had been admitted to hospital after her diagnosis. She had spent time in hospital in previous weeks because her so-called `pneumonia` was not going away. Then the doctors had put a needle in her right lung to drain fluid from between the two lung sacks and suctioned it into a `bucket` (see photographs above). Now she had the needle in again and in the first 24 hours had produced over a litre and a half of bloody fluid. She was being given morphine on demand.

Lung cancer is the most common of cancers and has the worst long-term prognosis of them all. It is on the increase globally especially amongst young women, even non-smokers.

More later...

Monday, 13 June 2011

Purun Purun with QOO

I`m back in Japan. I left three weeks` ago for a family emergency which I will tell you about once I am over jetlag. I arrived at Narita on Saturday the 11th of June, exactly three months since the Big One. Apparently there was an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo that day. Lights are still dimmed, the trains from Narita seem still to be running a restricted service but there are no shortages in the shops and lovely aircon is on in my local supermarket.

Rainy season seems to have started. The weather is muggy, the air is green with tropical smells and daddy long-legs keep bouncing through the windows. With little appetite I`ve turned to jelly drinks such as Purun Purun above to fill my stomach with calcium, iron, vitamin D and probably a lot of sugar as well. And QOO (no idea).

This morning (actually 3pm, I am VERY jetlagged)I got up to read that Christchurch, New Zealand has been hit by more aftershocks. My uncle who lives there has lost power again. After the last Christchurch aftershock on 22nd February I read in a Japanese newspaper that because the Christchurch faultline runs north to south through Japan, Japan would probably experience a substantial quake before long. And so we did two weeks and three days later. So are we in for more? I have felt two very minor tremors since I`ve been back but I will now take 20 minutes to check my water and food stores and tidy up around the place just in case. I`d probably better put some clothes on too ... did I mention it`s VERY muggy?