Supporting sick family members from afar

My grandfather Ryozo Shintani with his pet cat before being hospitalized in Hiroshima, Japan.

courtesy of Ema Wilson

My grandfather Ryozo Shintani with his pet cat before being hospitalized in Hiroshima, Japan.

My heart skipped a beat as I sat down to see my mother in tears and my father with a serious expression. I quietly edged forward to ask what was wrong but my brain was already spelling out the possibility of what had happened. Finally she looked up to me and said the words that I dreaded to hear: “You grandfather is in the hospital, and he might have Corona”.

On Monday March 30, Ryozo Shintani, my grandfather in Hiroshima, Japan, was sent to Hiroshima Kinen Hospital for a heavy fever, fatigue, and other signs similar to the COVID-19 virus. He has been at the hospital since then and our whole family has been affected heavily by this.

At 8pm the next day, my grandmother, Yoko Shintani, called my mother, Rie Wilson, to tell my mother the tragic news that would later on be passed down to me.

Bauchi had called at around 8pm on March 31st and told me that your grandfather was hospitalized and that he would have a chance of having Corona,” said Wilson.

Soon after getting this news Wilson, similarly to how I and the rest of our family members in Japan, felt an overcoming feeling of worry and sadness at this news and how it would affect us.

“I was upset and terrified of what it meant if my dad had Corona and I was scared that this fever would be corona. I know that your grandmother said that he had shown signs of pneumonia and that he might be getting tested soon but that’s even scarier since both of them are very harmful and have similar symptoms. Most of all, I was worried that I would never see him again without saying goodbye,” Wilson said.

With feelings of stress and worry all my mother and I could do was hope that he didn’t have Corona and that he had only had a high fever. Over in Japan, Shintani had a lot of stress put on her shoulders as well, due to my grandfather not being diagnosed. 

“In Japan testing doesn’t work that way. It depends on if the doctor thinks the patient has Corona or not to get tested. That’s why he is hospitalized, right now they think he has pneumonia but they aren’t 100% about it yet,” Shintani said.

This statement can be confirmed with what was stated from the Nikkei Asian Review Website that had stated “experts also point out that tests simply to reassure patients that they do not have COVID-19 should be avoided”. Due to this statement from experts, some hospitals, like the one my grandfather is staying at, classify my grandfather under this category of patients needing reassurance since his fever went down and my family is fighting to get him at least tested for ammonia.

With the state of the world at the moment, it’s hard to remember that people out there are suffering and might not have the same health care as we do in America. It’s just a reminder that there is a constant fight against the virus and that we have to push forward.