DISCLAIMER FROM THE TRANSLATOR: While I speak both English and Japanese fluently, I know nothing about medicine. These are rough translations made through tears (i.e., sometimes while bawling). Please take all medical details in particular with a grain of salt. These translations have not been proofread and will be revised on a later date.

Please note that I am NOT in contact with the original author, who has given general permission for translation in one of her entries.

I would appreciate it if everyone can refrain from posting these entries elsewhere and to share this address <http://jkts-english.blogspot.com> instead, as I will be making revisions to each entry directly (addresses for individual entries may change if I revise their titles).



Start reading here: 1) To the affected areas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

14) From Tokyo

March 23

Our medical team will be returning to Tokyo today.

In spite of having headed here making confident remarks and with a strong attitude, the reality here that was far, far beyond my imagination seriously overwhelmed me when I arrived. There was no time to think about what I could do, and there was no choice but to get a handle on what's happening before my eyes and work with all my might.

I even started to dislike the announcers reading the news, reporting the number of deaths that increase every day as though they are counting things.

More than two thousand people requesting to be examined each day.
Patients lying on the floor to receive IV drips.
Patients lying on muddy hospital beds; single-handedly manning first-aid stations, full of anxiety.
Nighttime emergency patients at evacuation sites.
Births given in a delivery room with no water or electricity.
An emergency medical care system where hospitals that can receive patients can't be found.
Medicine without stockpiles; the lack of medical equipment.
AEDs that had been exposed to water and could no longer be used.

Every day has been so inconceivably dramatic that I can't even remember everything.

We start running around doing our work in the morning, and before we know it, it's already three or four at night, and it's the same thing every day. But I think we were able to get through it because it's not just us; the conditions are the same for the self defense forces, firemen, police officers, drivers, the heads of local community associations, so on. In fact, we were able to take turns getting a bit of rest, but all these other people have been working with no rest at all.

And even all this was easy to deal with when I thought of how this is nothing compared to how much all the people affected by the disaster are suffering.

Also, I've written about this repeatedly, but I was encouraged by the smiles and kindness and strength of the people at the evacuation sites countless times.

The people who particularly seemed to be toughing it out are often deeply hurt; everyone I talked to still hadn't been able to get in touch with their families.

At the evacuation site, a lot of people were saying that they can hold strong because they're all in it together, but to be spending every night full of anxiety, in temperatures below zero degrees Celsius and on such a hard floor, is really terrible beyond words.

The truly hard times are still ahead of us. As news about the disaster begins to disappear from the TV and other media outlets, everyone else will start to forget, and the problems faced in the affected areas will only increase. More people falling ill, more sadness. It is of course a good thing that the rest of us make an effort to be cheerful and strong and return to our usual lives as best we can, but we must never forget about March 11.

If you still don't know what you can do to help, donating some of the money you have would be good, and keeping it aside would also be good. If you keep your money, I think it would also help to go on a trip to the Tohoku region and to use it there, once transportation facilities have recovered and the region is more vibrant again.

For those of us who are not in the areas that have directly been affected, we can help support our economy by eating and drinking and working as we always have, and to donate a little when we can, as much as our means allow us. I think this is important, too.

People who mobilize money, people who energize others, people who do put full effort into their work—there are many ways in which we can all help out. And we must always keep in mind that this isn't just a problem we are facing right now, but that getting through this tunnel will be a long-term fight. To make an effort conserve electricity to an extent that doesn't intrude with your life or work, and to donate amounts that also don't impact your lifestyle to trusted organizations will also be a big step.

There will always be tons of hardships in our daily lives, whether it's heartbreak or getting in trouble at work or buying things on impulse or catching a cold. Just living a normal life will bring us bad things 90% of the time, and good things 10% of the time.

But all this is really nothing at all compared to the hardships and sorrow that those affected by the disaster are experiencing!

I think it's important that we treat objects and resources with care and always think of the areas affected, so that the people there who are hanging tough and bearing with their plight can gradually get their smiles back again.

I'm sure that this will also be a long-term battle on the medical front. I plan to return when the next opportunity arises, and to study about disaster medical care again so that I can grow as a nurse and help as many people as possible.

A secondary disaster having to do with radiation has also arisen. The problems we must tackle are only piling up. Regarding radiation, please be sure to make accurate decisions based on accurate information.

When we said our farewells at the evacuation site, everyone was crying, but they said things like "We'll work hard so that things will be better the next time we meet!," "Come visit again when the region's been restored," and "You should come and marry someone here" with a smile. I left the evacuation site in tears. Those who have survived have told me about their feelings of guilt, about how they were the only ones who survived or how they weren't able to help someone, but this is nobody's fault.

The fact that they survived definitely means something. I want the survivors to stick their chests out, to cry when things are rough, and to never forget that they are not alone.

There was also a surprise. Little Luna came to say goodbye with her aunt, with a letter she wrote for me. It said that when she grows up, she's going to do the same kind of work that I do. I was so glad that I had chosen this line of work and I couldn't stop crying.

Rikuzentakata has become my second home, and I wish for the restoration of my homeland with all my heart.

I will tell my colleagues and friends and family about all that I have seen, experienced, and felt here. How fortunate we are to be able to spend mundane daily lives. How precious the presence of family and friends who are near us is. How blessed we are to be provided with resources like water and electricity.

Different people will interpret all this in different ways, and I'm sure there are those who can only think of it as it having nothing to do with them, but any one of us can become a victim of a disaster any time.

On the return trip, we traveled by land. As Tokyo came closer and closer, I fell into a kind of illusion where I couldn't tell which world was real. Traffic lights operating like nothing happened, skyscrapers with lights in their windows, well-dressed people walking on the streets. Time passes by in the metropolitan area as though the disaster-stricken areas are somebody else's business. But I think that the true reality lies in the affected areas, and that Tokyo is unreal.

Reality and unreality are always side by side.

I wish for the restoration of the affected areas from the bottom of my heart. I promise I will come again.

Until then, please stay well. And I wish that everyone will be reunited with the people they want to see.

I wish that some day, all your efforts and tears will finally be rewarded.

Next entry: And I thank you in return.

Translated April 1.
Original entry in Japanese: 14、From TOKYO

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