Illness Is From The Spirit

 It's early in the new year, and I'm feeling extremely depressed... It's not such a good perspective to already be depressed.
Every morning, gruesome incidents are reported by the news. Tragic events, very regrettable misdeeds, and so on. While the people in society are watching that, while their hearts are hurting, they must be thinking,
'It has nothing to do with me, such a misfortune will surely never fall upon me...'
However, once visited by those kind of disasters, the humans will suddenly change. That's certainly the way I am now...

It all started on January 3rd. Welcoming in the new year with a fresh spirit, I was drinking the night away and eating untidily, but when I'd had enough of that I felt a dull ache in the lower right of my abdomen. In the beginning I misinterpreted it as an effect of the alcohol.
Essentially the ache I felt in my body was pretty strong. Last year and many years before, I was hit with the pain of tooth cavities, but since I didn't have time to go to the dentist I found a pretty small set of pliers among the mixed cables and shields that had been put into the toolbox. And I extracted those aggravating molars all by myself. At that time I might've felt somewhat at ease, but it caused me too much pain in the distant future... (And now I'm going to the hospital regularly.)

Well, I always make light of things like this, but my abdominal pain was simply intolerable. It couldn't have been the alcohol I drank, because the pain did nothing but worsen. And while I was thinking inexcusably, I called my manager and went directly to the emergency hospital.

I went to North General Hospital, which I'd become thankful for on many occasions since the time I moved to Tokyo. I was holding my side, and beside me my manager was writing up some kind of document. And once in a while he'd look my way, asking things like,
"Isshi-san, where does it hurt?"
"What side?"
"How long has it been?"
In any case, I couldn't endure the pain and I appealed to him,
"Listen to me, quickly, a doctor..."
Because I wasn't getting any better, I sat on a bench in the waiting room in order to endure the excess pain. While I sat I was grinding my teeth, and tried as much as I could to breathe deeply. The time was flowing exceptionally slow, so while it was only a few minutes in reality, to me it felt dreadfully long.

When at last a doctor materialized, we were soon able to progress with my medical examination. But, using the stethoscope several times, the doctor said, "Huh, strange. You need to be hospitalized immediately."
With such a quick decision, there was a hazy feeling inside my head. "Eh, what? How? How am I~??"
In spite of the awful stomach pain, a commercial on that topic came to mind as though it was my very own.
For a temporary emergency treatment I was quickly stuck with an IV, after which I was set into bed for a ride on the elevator, and then brought into a room which might've been a private corner room.
The doctor and manager were talking about something at my bedside, but owing to the sharp pain I couldn't hear the kinds of things they were saying.
The pain increased when I was lying face-up, so I turned my body to the right and curled up in fetal position, holding my knees. The IV seemed to be taking effect, and gradually my pain was beaten back.
When I came to, I noticed there was nobody around me. The pain was greatly reduced but when I thought I'd try getting up a little, the room's door opened and my manager came in.
"Isshi-san, how are you? They want to do some kind of examination now, so please change into this." While the manager spoke, he handed me what looked like very thin pyjamas. I accepted those with silence, and with the sluggishness of a cold winter morning, I slowly changed my clothes. The manager said, in a business-like manner, "Please lie down as you were. A female nurse has been called to come." For some reason, he was flipping the pages of a schedule notebook.
I was thinking, 'An examination? I got here only a little while ago, but they're giving me an examination already? What's up with that...'
I got into bed again as the manager had told me, and then he abruptly said,
"Isshi-san, could you please tell me the phone number at your parents' home?"
I was able to sense more and more that this was no trivial matter. "What? What is it? What kind of dreadful illness do I have? Do you know? Tell me!"
When I said that, the manager's eyes started swimming and even as I watched him he took on a suspicious attitude.
"N-no, well... It's a year-end gift. I must send a year-end gift to them."
I listened to that foolish utterance, and had nothing at all to retort to it.

After a while, I braved myself and tried to come up with a potential name for the disease, but for any solution that came to mind, the words put me in a far too gloomy mood. But at any rate, with regard to my abdominal pain it was already obvious.
'What is there, in the lower right of my abdomen?'
Suddenly, I recalled a human anatomy model that was in my school's science lab. But my memory was too distant, and I imagined I had the focus of a dead fish, with only unsettled eyes. When I considered those kinds of things, my disastrous childhood seemed to tug at my sleeves, and I confused myself with thinking about unreasonably fun things. It's sad to talk about, but absolutely nothing else would come to mind...
While I let out a sigh in my negativity, it wasn't a white-robed angel, but an older lady wearing a nurse cap, who appeared from somewhere. Doing as I was urged, I moved to a special room with her. By the time we had made our way between the machines, the nurse drew my blood, and answered some questions, I was exhausted and worn out. She hurried me back to my own room, and while I was holding my abdomen in pain I crawled into the bed  there.
This time the doctor appeared. "Yes, yes, please listen as you're lying down. You see, the results came out."
'Hey, that was fast!' It seemed to sink into my mind. "W-well what is it? Where is the problem?"
The doctor, stroking the rim of his glasses, looked down with a fleeting glance at my condition.
"Hmm... I hate to say this, but... you... have cancer."
I was dumbfounded by the doctor's words, which went entirely against my predictions.
Now I could only think, 'How can it be...?' Without even being able to dream it was only a joke, I forced a smile and thoughtlessly asked, "W-what shocking thing is this?"
The doctor said, "Yes, I believe I can understand what you feel. However, what you should do from now on is to spend the remaining half year so that you leave behind no regrets."
'I-it's too soon! Hey!! It can't be!' Those thoughts sunk into my mind again, but since this person was a doctor at a hospital, that doctor would likely have nothing to gain even if he set me up.
"W-well... What kind of, no... where is it that I have cancer?" I timidly asked.
And the doctor said, "It's your liver. You're still young so it seems absurd, doesn't it? Naturally after this it's hopeless. Because the progress will be quick. Unfortunately..."
"Is that so..."
Struck with too much of a shock, at first I couldn't grasp the seriousness of my situation, but after a moment I became aware of my overflowing tears. And then I was swallowed up into a whirl of sorrow.

Even I didn't quite understand why, but my first action was to call Izumi.
"Hello, well you see, I'm at the hospital now but... I... well... in my liver... cancer..."
Then, after Izumi was silent for a while, "Is that so... Well, are you going out to drink?"
What a thing to say. To those words I said, "What are you saying? I just told you I have liver cancer, so how can you be encouraging alcohol..."
I was amazed that after another little while he said, "Ah, you see, I thought it was a joke..."
And an idea came to my mind. "Gotcha. Well then... I'll be going out after this so wait for me," was all I said.
Having only my medical certificate and my handbag, I headed for the tavern that Izumi pointed out.

I shook free of the manager who tried to stop me, and I don't remember much about the walk but when I passed under the shop's sign curtain Izumi was already there and half drunk. When he noticed me, beckoned me over with a smile. While I took off my coat, I walked briskly over to Izumi and without saying a word I showed him the medical certificate.
Then Izumi smiled with a flushed face and said only one thing, "It's okay."
I was saddened and offended by those words.
"It's not okay! This is anything but okay!!" I complained to him, while crying.
It seemed as though the world was ending for me, so I intended to lay my emotions bare. But Izumi said, "I mean it's okay that you're worrying you know, but one way or another you'll get by. They say 'Illness is from the spirit' you know," he finished, laughing, and after another swig of beer, his face again turned to a smile.
Then my memory was interrupted.

When I regained consciousness, I was lying in my own bed at home. My heart seemed it would explode at any time, in gushing waves. The instant I opened my eyes and saw my ceiling, I understood everything.
"Was it just a dream..."
Yes, it had been a dream. Because of this dream that was far too real, my cheeks were a little damp.
"That's good.... it's really good... But what a dream for the beginning of the year... I can tell it's going to be tough..."
I murmured, while I got out of bed and headed to my kitchen. My hand on the refrigerator's handle, I paused for a moment to consider, but as I thought... I couldn't open it.

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