Our pastor contacted me to visit a 46-year-old patient with liver cancer from hepatitis B, who was a judge in the Maringa area and was terminally ill. When we saw him in his hospital room, he had been receiving a blood transfusion. He was in a lot of pain and looked very distressed. They are both third-generation Japanese-Americans, and the wife is fluent in Japanese. His wife and children were Christians and lived in a church, but his wife told us that although her husband understood her faith, he was not yet ready to be a Christian.
He was financial difficulty since he was young, but he was smart and had served as a judge at a young age. We thought it would not be possible for him to be discharge under the circumstances with the blood transfusion, but we had no right to our opinion on that. But still, I told him of the risk of this discharge.
We got a message that he had been readmitted to the hospital because they returned home, and he was in severe pain. We believed that under his current circumstances, his life was in imminent danger tonight. After consulting with my husband, I went to the hospital to stay overnight, if he and his wife would allow me to do so. It was around 5 p.m. After about 30 minutes, his wife said, “ I feel relieved that you are here, but he says he will not allow you to come in. But I am also so tired that I could sleep for many days because of his care. Could you please wait so I can try to convince him a little more?"
I prayed and waited in the hallway. Then he was finally allowed me into his room. When I greeted him, he did not make eye contact with me, and a somewhat awkward atmosphere prevailed for a while. Moreover, I had never heard him speak Japanese before, so I was worried about how I should communicate with him with my poor Brazilian language. His wife said, “ Dear Honey, Please think of her as an angel sent from God. I am going to sleep a little now. I am so tired. Please do not hesitate to ask her whatever you need." She spoke in a gentle voice with love. He remained silent and looked at his wife for what he could understand. She lay down on the bed next to him and immediately fell asleep.
He did not like having a tube in his bladder, so his wife took his urine with a urine bottle. I had to help him instead of his wife. But he didn't want to do that. I understood enough. I was at a loss as to what to do.
I suggested that I could make a strong sound by running water from the tap while he was doing his business, so he would not have to worry about it. It worked well. He seemed to feel a little more comfortable with me.
He asked me in Japanese for the first time, “Doctor,there’s water on the table, please put it on my lips with water.”
There was olive oil in the water.
I soaked it in cotton and applied it to his lips.
After a while, he began to fall asleep, and as I listened to the comfortable breathing of the two of them, it was like listening to music, a beautiful harmony. I prayed, ”Dear God, please protect him and let nothing happen to him. ”
About an hour later, his condition suddenly changed. Blood came out of his mouth like a fountain. The white walls turned red in a blink of an eye. At the same time, his pain was intense. Liver cancer often combines with esophageal varix. It was probably ruptured.
His wife jumped up and called the doctor. I supported him and rubbed his back as I continued to encourage him.
None of the doctors came fast enough. His bleeding was not going to stop.
I prayed in my heart. "Dear God, please help and bring the doctors quickly."
Then I said to him loudly, "Mr. Y, Do not worry about anything! Let the blood flow. Instead, receive new blood from God! Do not swallow the blood, but spit it out. Doctors came in and told his wife and me to leave the room. I could hear more cries of anguish as the endoscope stopped the bleeding. The IV was supposed to have painkillers and sedatives, but the time for them to take effect had not yet arrived, and the groaning of agony continued for a long time.
After what must have been an hour, the bleeding finally stopped.
We did no longer hear him moaning. Then we were allowed to enter the hospital room.
His wife had called their two children. They would be in Sao Paulo in a little while.
When the children arrived, they met their father. The oldest son, a high school student, said to his father, "Dad, You are going to be okay. I will protect our family instead of you. I will become a lawyer or a judge like you. Dad, I am sure heaven is awesome." He spoke so firmly and repeatedly.
His son was a high school student. I was sure that he was listening with his eyes closed.
When his daughter said, "Daddy," and held his hand.
"Simone, I will be fine. I will be fine in a while. I can't talk to you now, but I'll see you later." His voice was quiet, though.
His wife called her close pastor. I called my husband and the pastor of Liberdade and told them that Mr. Y was near his deathbed and asked him to pray for him.
Mrs. Y said, "Dr. Megumi, I want him to have baptism.
Please pray that I can persuade him." She tried to do that earnestly.
But, he did not respond.
I thought that Mr. Y wanted to become a Christian in the future. However, he felt that he didn't want to have baptism now! Because I wonder if he might think he may die as soon as he has baptism.
At that time, I couldn't say, "Mrs.Y, you do not need to force him to be baptized." Because I knew she thought, "He can't enter heaven without being baptized." I thought there was no other way. I had to leave the couple's affairs to them, so I prayed for God's guidance. Then, at the urging of his wife, he finally decided to be baptized. It was around five a.m. the following day.
I called my husband and said, "You should keep the children in bed.
I want you to be there for the baptism, so please come quickly."
Soon after, two pastors and my husband arrived at the hospital.
The ceremony of Baptism had been held simply but solemnly.
We all joined hands during the pastor's prayer, and Mr. Y breathed his last breath.
The funeral in Maringa would be held the next day, so our family flew there. When we visited his mother, she said, "I wish I could have replaced him with myself!" She was so sad. The funeral was a big affair for his work, with over a few hundred people in attendance. Participants of the funeral were all moved by his wife's confident testimony in front of all.
I heard that her son eventually grew up and became a lawyer.
In Brazil, I shared a story about three people who had terminal stages of cancer. I am not sure if it was helpful for you, as the medical situation in the country and the times are quite different from today.
But my origin as a palliative medicine doctor today is based on the precious experiences I had with these people.
I expect many prayer requests, so I would like to ask for your prayer support.
I will depart from Narita Airport on August 1, fly via Doha on Qatar Airways, and arrive in Romania on August 2, the next day. I will arrive at Narita on September 2, but since it will be in the evening, I plan to stay overnight at a hotel at Haneda Airport and take the first flight back home.
Corona infections are raging in Japan as well. Global warming is progressing, and heavy rains and landslides are occurring here and there. Many people are being rushed to hospitals with heat stroke due to the heat.
Please take care of yourselves and stay healthy.