A bleak and weary cough from an elderly patient breaks the endless silence of the night. Me and Daiki’s mother take it in turns to sleep over at the hospital. I rush to there everyday after work, praying for some good news. It never comes. My trusted mobile phone is always by my side. Just in case. ‘No guests after 8:00pm’ reads a sign at the hospital. Try stopping us I thought.
One day Daiki’s condition suddenly got worse. Randomly half way through a conversation, alarms started ringing and lights flashing. Then about 5 doctors and nurses barged in, and just like a typhoon swept me and his mother out of the way. As we were having a ‘good day’ and Daiki looked fine I asked him if he’d accidentally pushed the nurse call button. But we knew it was serious from the doctors tone of voice. ‘Are you ok?’ they asked in haste. ‘What do you feel? Is your heart fluttering?’ Like a dear in highlights Daiki answered with single words as doctors began stripping his shirt, applying gel and preparing a defibrillator. Can’t breathe. Can’t swallow. What’s happening? Me and his mother grabbed each other.
I thought we were going to loose him that day but thankfully Daiki stabilized a couple of minutes later. What happened exactly I don’t know but it worried the doctors so much that Daiki would be prescribed an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator- Uses electrical shocks to treat life-threatening arrhythmia and cardiac arrest).
Hours turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months. From then on Daiki was monitored constantly and prodded and probed daily.
Such tests include;
- X-rays – Check the water content in the lungs and condition of heart/ lungs
- CT scan- Check internal organs, blood vessels and bones
- Electrocardiogram- Checks heart rhythm and damage from an attack
- Echocardiogram- Checks heart pump power and can determine which chambers of the heart are enlarged. Looks for evidence of pervious heart attacks.
- Cardiac catherization and biopsy- Heart sample taken through blood vessels for lab analysis (*One doctor actually dropped this sample inside Daiki’s body upon removal)
- Blood tests
As space is hard to come by in Japan and beds in valuable need of supply Daiki was eventually moved to a tiny 4 people room (no bigger than 4 1/2 tatamis per person). Patients came and went, always leaving him behind. Old men would often keep him up all night, coughing up phlegm or screaming to themselves or for nurses. It must have been torture to live there, unable to walk, wash, change, sleep and with only a thin curtain separating you and your neighbor’s bed from touching. The only break from boredom was the incredibly hard working and busy nurses on their daily rounds. But Daiki never complained! As is such things where champions are born.