20 May, 2008

Consumptive Diaries: Part One - The Admission

Some of you already know, some of you don't, but this week's BIG news is that the German has been admitted to hospital with confirmed tuberculosis. And, boy, what an exciting roller coaster the last 24 hours have been.

The German was officially diagnosed last Friday, but for some reason couldn't be admitted until yesterday. Despite the fact that TB is highly contagious, he was allowed to roam Tokyo for the weekend. (This was the first of many bizarre moments....)

So, yesterday we ventured up to the impressively named 'International Medical Center of Japan'.
Apparently, there are designated hospitals around Japan for TB treatment & this is one of the best, but i have to say that i really wasn't impressed yesterday morning.
Depressing pink walls, shared rooms, confinement/isolation, limited language resources...
I thought that was bad enough, then the doctor came in and told K that he would have to stay for 2 months. MINIMUM.


That freaked us both out. Anyway, i hung out with K for the first few hours to get him settled in his cell and then i hurried back to the office to surf the internet for more information about TB.

So, as you always wanted, here are some random facts on tuberculosis:
  • As of 2006, approximately 30,000 people have TB in Japan, with around 3,000 people dying yearly (WHO statistics)
  • Britain's figures, with a population about half of Japan, are about 10,000 & 1,000 respectively.
  • Approximately one third of the world's population has TB (Scary fact!)
  • However, tuberculosis is only infectious when it is active (ie reaches the lungs)
  • And only 5~10% of people with tuberculosis become sick or infectious.
  • Symptoms of active TB are coughing for more than 2 weeks; phlegm; fatigue & chest pain
Are you positively enlightened now? The good thing is that it looks like i probably haven't been infected - or at least i'm not infectious, but i will (hopefully) be getting checked next week sometime (once the local health centre gets in touch with me)

Went back to the prison hospital after work, and felt a lot better about the place.
Why? Well, the doctor waited to explain all the medication and stuff until i got there. He'd written everything down in English for the German and then painstakingly explained everything is simple English. Basically, K will be on medication for 6 months, minimum. However, he only has to be in hospital while his TB is active/infectious. The average stay is 2 months. So in a worst case, it could be longer. But in a more positive light, it could be less.
K just has to pass 3 consecutive phlegm tests over a two week period, and he can come home.

So, i am keeping my fingers crossed that K's phlegm quickly runs clean....

As for me, the hospital will get in touch with the local health centre, who will in turn get in touch with me. And then they will talk things through with me & get me tested. Apparently this will all happen in the next 7 to 10 days.

And just for your enjoyment, some other randomly bizarre moments from yesterday:
  • The German being given a lecture about how bad smoking is and how he really shouldn't smoke. Just struck me as bizarre & weird timing...here he is being admitted for TB and they give him the smoking lecture. Wouldn't it be more apporpriate when he left?
  • The nurse pointing out the Manga/book corner and not connecting the facts that a) K doesn't speak Japanese and b) the manga/books were all in japanese
  • K getting his height checked & the little nurse being unable to read the scale because it was too high. Had to get the Dr to read it...
  • Being on the 13th floor(the consumption floor). Luckily we're not very superstitious
  • Getting into the lift, asking for the 13th floor and everyone taking a step back from me
  • Random other TB patient doing his exercises, which involved him doing laps of the ward with two 2-litre water bottles. Kind of reminded of polar bears pacing their cages at the zoo
Will keep you posted on how things progress....I'm sure you're all eager for more fascinating TB facts.

1 comment:

arumanda said...

hey miss sin,

i'm really sorry to hear about the german. he must feel like shite, and you must feel even worse for not being able to do much for him and for having to wait for so long till he gets out. certainly bizarre and seemingly random the way things happen hey! my thoughts are with you both and i'll be sending some of my super genki vibes your way for some time to come.