Tag Archives: cancer

Walking and passing out

A blank month would be better than the April I’ve had. Going back to the hit and run of Deby’s Lexus and my Avalon by a speeding, crazy driver of a silver Mercedes shearing off my right side mirror and scratching her left rear while changing lanes where there was not to make, speeding off.—a double hi-and-rung.

I took the car into the garage and was walking home on 24th Street (past Alabama). The next thing I knew, I was being loaded in to an ambulance to SFGH (which was not only the closest and a trauma center but judged the best hospital for someone taking blood thinners). Two people had made 911 calls. They must have seen my fall, since people lying in the street is a common sight, even bleeding ones.

Because I threw out my back the previous Thursday, I could not sit up or get out of bed on my own. And I was pissing 6+ times a night. I was prepared (no food or drink for 10-18 times— while being admonished to drink as much as I could) for a biopsy five times, including Friday night, despite everyone knowing that biopsies are not done over the weekend. My head was also chained to the wall with a heavy box that had no support except hanging from my head or lying on the bed from which it fell to the floor.

The lies began in the emergency room, where no one bothered to wipe off the blood. The doctor who sewed my upper lip promised to check back on her work, but never did.

The arrogant Filipino night nurse J__ told me the neuroimaging gizmos would be removed after 8 hours, at midnight, and that the would call the doctor at 11 to remind him to order the removal. Come morning Jonathan puzzled where I had gotten the idea that the test was going to end at midnight. Come midnight the night doctor said there was no one awake to order the removal, but that doctors came in early. They may have, but the next excuse was that the machine’s technician had to do it and no one knew when he would be around. At 11 Isaac said that if no hospital personnel did, he was going to remove the turban and bundle of cables at noon. Just before noon, the angel of the 7th floor nurses, Yvette, removed it. The technician drifted in as I was going out for a walk to the roof garden, passing some painting by Beth Koseff(?) that I like.

The roof garden, where I walked around many time, was a plus, as was my large single room. I did not want to lose it OR go through readmission, so the hospital bilked me some more o revenue on Saturday and Sunday.

I had two surveillance nurses coughing and coughing and coughing without masks, though my room was labeled an isolation room, requiring masks for all who entered.

A major hospital scam is refusing to let patients take their own medications and billing each pill as if it were the whole bottle. Instead of getting my information from my online records (including UCSF) they asked Keelung for the dosages. He photographed my drug shelf, which includes a 2010 glyburide prescription, which was added to what the hospital bundled with my real prescriptions (I made sure Triumeq was there, albeit in nighttime bundles). They dropped my prophylactic valacyclovir with predictable results (a flare-up). The other iriatrogenc malpractice was giving me blood thinner on Wednesday, the evening after my first canceled biopsy. When the surgical team learned of this hospital induced blood thinner, which was after I was on the gurney with my back shaved and the point of entry marked, was a reason to proposed the procedure again to Monday, keeping my incarcerated for the weekend, maximizing insurance revenue.

Twice I stared to piss into my plastic urinal with its cap on (during the night) and dribbled many times. Once the floor was covered with urine and once I (passively) aggressively urinated in my bed.

Because of my tight back I can’t sit up or stand up on my own. (Once upright can walk). I I successfully used the plastic urinal without sitting up many times, getting my penis inside jar’s lip with the jar on its side… and me on my side.

I was constipated for six days starting before admission and four days spanning two in the hospital and two out. I had four CAT scans and an MRI, as well as the 18 hour brain scan (no results of which has been communicated to me).

They are still staining biopsy results to determine what kind of kidney cancer I have, I am looking at Monday surgery (it’s Thursday, so I could spend another week hospitalized at UCSH Mission Bay and waiting. No thanks!

SFGH has added several more lies that they would report results of various tests, including the brain imaging for which I suffered so much.

©2018, Stephen O. Murray

Five stories by Endô Shûsaku


After Mishima Yukio, Endô Shûsaku (1923-90) is the Japanese novelist of “the third generation,” i.e., those who began publishing after WWII, who has been most translated into English. His tale of the persecution of Jesuit missionaries and Japanese converts in the 17th century, Silence (Chinmoku) has been filmed in Japanese (by Shinoda Masahiro) Portuguese, and in English (by Martin Scorsese).

The first of the five stories in Five by Endo, translated by Van C. Gessel, “Unzen,” also reaches back to the 17th-century persecution, apostasy, and torture, as a 20th-century Japanese man, Suguru, seeks out sites, particularly the “Valley of Hell,” in which Christians were partially boiled before being burned alive (singing a hymn). Suguru lacks their conviction, and his story lacks any closure.

The second story, “A Fifty-Year-Old Man” is more mundane and, for me, more moving. The title character, Mr. Chiba, has been taking ballroom dancing lessons for his health, though they exhaust his legs and back. The story is not about his stint as a dancing student, however. Rather it is about trying to come to terms with his dying brother, who is only three years older than he is, and Whitey, the mutt he adopted thirteen years earlier (that is, a very old dog). Mrs. Chiba suggests that one dies to save the other, an explanation I don’t credit, but his feelings about his own mortality and that of the two creatures closest to himI found affecting.

The story that seems to me to reveal the most about Japanese people and worldview in the collection is “Japanese in Warsaw.” In the latter years of communism in Poland, a Japanese student in Warsaw is a guide for Japanese tourists. They have not interest in Polish history and are appalled at the shoddiness of tourist facilities. Their paramount interest is in hooking up with white women, so that Shimizu feels that he must be a pimp (albeit one who does not take money from the females whose bodies are rented). There is a Catholic angle to this story, and to the next one.


(Endô in 1954)

The Box” of the tale’s tile contains some old (wartime) photos, postcards, and a Bible. The narrator who bought the box (and had spent time evacuated to Ueda during the war) seeks out someone who knew the recipient of the postcards, the daughter of a missionary (from a country that was neutral during WWII; I’d guess Swiss in that her name was Lougert) who was tortured a bit by a diffident secret police agent so that she would spy for the Japanese. The narrator speculates that the cards contained Bible-coded messages. (She was not tortured for being Christian, btw).


(Ueda region (Shinano) in winter)

The final story, “The Case of Ibose,” is actually the first chapter of Endô’s 1993 novel Deep River, involves the death of a dutiful wife who was more concerned about her husband being able to take care of himself without her than with her agony and oncoming death from cancer (which her husband refuses to acknowledge to her, though lying to patients about the seriousness of their ailments was very common practice in Japan). It is moving and is fairly self-contained (though her dying wish for him to seek out her reincarnation propels him into a trip to India with three other Japanese).


I prefer the stories without the weight of Catholic martyrdom, “A Fifty-Year-Old Man” and “The Case of Isobe,” along with the tangential Catholic martyrdom one, “Japanese in Warsaw.” Despite its apparent focus on varying religious beliefs, “Isobe” has interested me in Deep River.

In addition to translating multiple works by Endô (including another collectio of stories that I don’t like as much as this one, Stained Glass Elegies, Van Gessel wrote about Endô in The Sting of Life: Four Contemporary Japanese Novelists.

©2017, Stephen O. Murray