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.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Over and over again.*

[April 6 1:23AM]

I’ve finally been able to read most of the comments just recently.  Thank you, to all those who have left these kind words.  There are still many comments being left here, one after another, so maybe that should read “who are leaving” instead.  I will find the time to read everything.  Thank you.

I was especially deeply moved to find some comments from those of you who were at the evacuation sites, among all the others.  This is all thanks to everyone who took the time to spread the word about this blog.  Thank you, once again.  Through all these connections between different people, this blog seems to even have reached the eyes of some truly surprising people, and it’s made me realize all over again that we all have a kind of bond, or that we’re all connected in some way.

To tell the truth, there are so many people reading this now that I had difficulty writing this latest entry.  It seems like everyone has this image of me as a really kind, good person, but I’m really not as perfect as that, and I have my share of discontents regarding my work and daily life.

Since having gone to the disaster site, I’ve apparently been pared down in many respects without having realized it, and there are so many things that I used to love so much before that I just don’t get any more.  In that respect, it’s honestly been difficult to resume my daily life.

Back in my hometown, when I earned my qualification as a flight nurse, I was also required to be qualified in disaster medical care, and that’s the only reason why I’d chosen to study it.  And when I’d finished my studies and became qualified to join a DMAT [disaster medical assistance team], I was naïve enough to think, “Maybe there won’t be any major disasters during my career.”

Having actually gone to a disaster site as a DMAT member, if one were to ask me whether all that I’ve studied has truly been put to use, I don’t think that I can respond with a fully confident “Yes!”  It was a reality that went beyond the manual—a terrible catastrophe beyond any manual, really.  Ever since we’ve come back, our team has been working on revising all our manuals.

Currently, a third team is at the disaster site, and it seems like the medicine required there has largely shifted from the acute phase to the chronic.  There have been many comments left by people who are about to head to the disaster site to administer medical care, so here are a few points that you should keep in mind, just so you know what to expect…

Water still isn’t running.  Restrooms are in a fairly critical situation from a hygiene standpoint, and it is predicted that as temperatures rise, there will be more contamination.  Large quantities of disinfectants are necessary.  At most evacuation sites, the restrooms are being cleaned by either people from local community associations or by taking turns, and it will be necessary to educate them about how to use disinfectants to eradicate viruses.  Foot care for preventing blood clots, care for ulcers caused by anxiety, and mental support are all already in need.

Medicine stocks that were often overlooked at the disaster site include spare stomas, medicine for chemotherapy, and eye-drops.  Please confirm beforehand how many patients will be needing these at the evacuation sites and hospitals where you will be headed, and make sure to take five times more than the scheduled amount.  I have also heard that there are more and more cases of pneumonia from being unable to brush their teeth properly, so mouthwash is also needed, at the very least.

There is a tendency for everyone to be trying too hard to persevere, and many patients will not tell you all of their symptoms.  There were also many cases where patients held out for as long as they possibly can before finally coming in for consultation or being transported by an ambulance.  So I think it is important to practice a broad medical examination that goes further than the main complaint.

I will be going back again around June.  The needs will have changed from the last time I was there, so I will need to study a lot by then.

We are still far away from restoration, and my abilities are limited, so I will spend my days putting my effort into studying and working so that I will be able to provide better medical care than last time, even just a little bit.

Also, there were many mentions about translating my blog in the comments.  If you think that my poor writing would be appropriate, please go ahead.  I hope that it will reach people all over the world.

As for the offer to publish my blog in book form, it really sounds like a dream and I’m very flattered, but I would like to leave this all here as a personal blog and to just have people come and read it from time to time.  Originally, I just wanted to have friends of friends read these entries and to share what is happening at the disaster sites and the struggles of the medical teams—that’s really all I had in mind when I posted these entries, so this enormous reaction beyond my wildest imagination has already been simultaneously delightful and bewildering, and honestly I feel fairly overwhelmed by it all.  I’m sorry.

It seems like the third team is currently facing various difficulties as well.  And it still isn’t just the medical team that has it rough.  Everyone involved in various aspects of the restoration effort have been going through the same difficulties since the earthquake, and each day even more demanding than ours.  But our feelings are always as one: For the restoration of the Tohoku region, and for the smiles of all those who have been affected by this disaster.

To all of you at the disaster sites, you have all persevered enough.  You don’t have to persevere any more—just keep your spirits up.

It’s our job to persevere.

Next entry: Two months

* Original title: “Nando demo,” presumably in reference to the Dreams Come True song in 11) Smile.

Translated April 8.
Original entry in Japanese: 何度でも。


  1. Eduardo: You’re welcome.  Thanks for reading, and please spread word about this blog as much as you see fit.

  2. Thank you for sharing and translating this blog for us, who are not fluent in Japanese.
    A deeply touched and worried reader from Germany.

  3. You’re welcome, and thank you for reading.

  4. Thank you for translating these entries. I am very touched by this nurse's experience. The spirit and strength of the Japanese people is amazing. This nurse's blog has definitely given a great insight of what it is like in the disaster zone. It has been a great reminder for people to remember where help is really needed and to continue supporting the relief funds.

    From Canada

  5. gotchi: You’re welcome, and thank you for reading.  I will try to pass your comment along to the original author after I’ve (finally) revised the entries.  Please spread the word about this weblog as much as you see fit.

  6. Deeply moving reminder that we are all one human family. Thanks for the translation and to the author for sharing her heart and skills with the warm-hearted people of Tohoku. Our thoughts and prayers are with them now and in the days of rebuilding ahead, as we each find our own particular way of helping others through this crisis.

  7. cjmullins: You’re welcome, and thanks to the author indeed.  I’m sure different people will respond to this weblog in different ways.  What’s important is that it gives us a chance to think about our actions and decisions with the real situation in mind.

  8. After reading this I am reminded even more that we -both Japanese and foreigner alike, are indeed all family. This has shown strongly as we see so many volunteers like yourself translating, interpreting, lifting, caring, cooking,...sharing.
    The will to live a more meaningful life blossoms from those like the author and her translator who force from us a tear and a desire to wake up tomorrow with more energy and determination.
    Thank you.

  9. extraordinary! a sensitive and generous translation. thank you so much for making this available.

  10. orlandojpn: Thank you for the comment.  I will do my best to pass it on to the author on a later date.

    Anrkeytek: Thank you for reading, and your thanks would be better directed to the author for sharing her experience in the first place (obviously much harder than just translating it).

  11. On the 22nd February my hometown of Christchurch was hit by a major quake. Since that day I have been buried in helping friends and family that I have not stopped to deal with my own emotions. Following the quake I sent my niece and her son to join her parents in Japan only to have them caught in the events there. I thank you for helping me to finally cry. For reminding me that we are not alone and although like in Japan the media here in NZ has already turned to other things, there are those in the word that understand the pain that those of us in Christchurch are going through. So through my tears I offer you the first real smile I have had since Feb 22nd and from the bottom of my heart I thank you

  12. Thank you for making this blog and helping us getting these warm messages.
    I read the news but the scale of the disaster really left me unable to picture the situation.
    And it is really great to see the Japanese communities stuck together so strongly in such adversity -- something we must all learn.

    I am spreading your blog address around :D Hope you dont mind

    From Indonesia

  13. Thank you so much for this translation! Although the quake was of course covered extensively by the media here in England, it's an entirely different thing to read one person's real-life account. It made it seem so much more real to me than images on a TV screen (shallow, I know) and I had just kind of assumed Japan would be fine because it's so wealthy. I now realise that a disaster is a disaster no matter where it strikes. I'm going to make a donation to the Japanese Red Cross right away. Thanks again.

  14. Thank you Nurse and translator. I hope you blog again when you return to the area in June. God Bless you and Luna and all other Japanese people.

  15. For all your own words so beautifully written, I am now completely lost for enough words to express my admiration at your portrait of the true horror of this event.
    Having also read the response of the person from Christchurch (and being a Kiwi living abroad) my own tears started to flow in reliving memories from your words ... the word pictures you painted were so vivid. And your heart - An enormous one filled with compassion and now a large measure of reality. Thankyou for compiling this incredible personal record.
    When they rebuild Rikuzentakata it would be marvellous to think that if the lay down a time capsule as part of a memorial, that your blog is put into it and included as part of the record.

  16. Many warm thanks for your words, efforts, translations, and smiles to those who need it most. You have filled my heart.

  17. Thank you so much for writing and translating this blog. Nurse, I would just like to give you more encouragement in saying that you shouldn't worry about being a "good" writer, the reason people are moved by your blog is that simply that it comes from a place of honesty and speaks the truth. Our world isn't made better by saints and heros, but by ordinary people like you that, despite your doubts and fears, choose to do good things in times of need. Even if you never "intended" to go into disaster medical care, you were there when it counted, and so many people are better for that. Please continue to work hard and live life with courage. God bless you and all the Japanese people.

    From Canada

  18. Thanks for the translation. Mrs Nurse, you are an angel, whose has an ability to express with words images that no TV could. My best wishes goes to all in Japan affected you truly have shown the rest of the world how to handle disaster in a dignified way.

    An especially poweful section was "It seems like everyone has this image of me as a really kind, good person, but I’m really not as perfect as that, and I have my share of discontents regarding my work and daily life" how extremly well put.

  19. Thank you for taking the time to record your experience in such an honest and open hearted way. Thank you also for translating it into English. Your blog was advertised in our contries biggest newspaper today, and as a country that also suffers a lot of natural disasters I am sure your posts will strike a very personal note with many Australians. Thank you for the inspiration and the reinforcement that the human spirit really does shine on no matter what.

  20. thank you for taking the time to translate this, I have blogged about it today, hopefully more readers will get to read these touching words too.

  21. Everyone:  Thank you for your comments, and thank you for reading.  I will do my best to pass your words on to the author, though I have no means of contacting her directly.  I apologize for not responding to each comment, but I can only speak for myself (the translator).

    Nishel:  Your comment alone has made me so glad that I translated this blog that I too am writing this through tears.  Thank you, and my heart goes out to all of you in Christchurch.  I will most certainly be translating and posting your comment on the original blog.

    Mariani:  Please do spread the word.  I hope the blog will reach as many people as possible.  Thank you.

    Freim88:  Thank you for reading, and I hope she will be blogging, too.

    nadine:  I saw that the Guardian article was picked up by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.  The attention is very much appreciated, especially at a time when Japan is only making headlines in foreign media in connection to the nuclear power plants.

    jojoebi:  Thanks for blogging about this.  For those who are curious, I found the entry here: http://jojoebi.blogspot.com/2011/05/246_11.html

  22. 上記のNishelさんのコメントの和訳です: