Father's Day

So, Sunday was Fathers' Day, a family day, and it was really good to do some family stuff. I received a nice card and a small envelope full of vouchers from the kids. The vouchers had been lovingly made by my eldest, and could be traded in for various activities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all the activities, rather than being the kind of things I wanted to do, instead involved me doing the kind of things they wanted to do; playing Wii, a board game, catch ball in the garden, and so on. There was one though, that allowed me to do nothing, on my own, for ten whole minutes! Which was nice.

The morning was a bit rainy, but it brightened up in the afternoon, and after having eaten a light lunch, we ended up spending most of it in the garden, alternating between football, dodge ball, catch ball and tree climbing. It was certainly a lot of fun, and I can't quite honestly think of a better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

By the time evening came around we were all pretty tired and really hungry. It was my day, so I decided the restaurant for dinner. Actually, I'd decided in the morning which one to go for as we'd thought, with it being Father's Day, it might be a good idea to book. We were right too as when we got there it was pretty busy, with just our reserved table still empty.

We ordered loads of food and then, just as we were about halfway through it, Hana started complaining that she didn't feel well. I suggested that we take a stroll outside and get ourselves some fresh air. Leaving the others inside, Hana and I walked towards the small park next door. Quickly though, despite pausing to take some deep breaths, it became obvious that she was in some distress. My first thought was that something she'd just eaten was immediately disagreeing with her. She said that her stomach hurt a little, but it was the pains in her chest, around her heart area, that was bothering her the most. She also said that both had been hurting a little before we even started eating. Alarm bells started ringing in my head. I mean, since when have chest pains been anything other than a serious cause for concern?

Inside I began freaking out, but not wanting my daughter to panic (and probably on some level trying to stop myself from doing so), I told her everything was going to be just fine, but maybe we needed to pop along to the doctor's office just to be sure. I told her twice, just in case either of us didn't hear the first time.

As I took her hand to walk back to the restaurant, I could see that she looked worried, and I could also see that she had none of the usual rosy colour in her cheeks. I asked her about her breathing, and she was quiet for a seconds until she answered that it was okay, but really painful. The bells rang a little louder.

Back in the restaurant, I calmly told Ma-chan to finish eating and pay the bill, I was going to carry Hana to the car and we were all going to go to the hospital. She too tried to keep calm, but her widening eyes betrayed her a little as I filled her in on Hana's symptoms. With a concerned look on his face, Haruki ate a few more fries. To be honest, it was heart-warming just to see the boy making an effort.


Nishichiba Hospital, on the hill overlooking the park


We headed for the nearest hospital, which, as luck would have it, has only recently reopened after being completely rebuilt. I concentrated hard on my driving. Ma-chan sat in the passenger seat, her body turned so that she could see and talk to our daughter in the back. Hana still looked in obvious discomfort, but didn't seem to be deteriorating. My wife chatted cheerfully about mundane logistics; you drop us off and pop home to get Hana's insurance card, I'll register in the emergency room manually... leave Haruki at my mum's house, don't forget his pyjamas just in case we're going to be here for a while, and then come back... bring some drinks and some candy... To keep things calm, it was the perfect thing to do.

Haruki and I left them at the front entrance, Hana doubled over and walking gingerly and Ma-chan, arm around her shoulders, whispering comforting words through a somewhat strained smile.

The journey home to drop off Haruki and pick up the aforementioned essentials is lost in the fug of that parting image and my own dark thoughts. The unfettered imagination is indeed a horror unmatched. I tried really hard to not think about anything at all and just focus on my driving. The strange thing is, as I remember it now, there is only my train (wreck) of thought; I don't recall the journey at all.

I was back at the hospital in less than 30 minutes, though of course it felt like I'd been gone for hours. I found them quickly in the waiting area, and  was immediately relieved to see them chatting animatedly. Ma-chan looked genuinely calm, and Hana had clearly rallied since I'd dropped them off. She smiled shyly when she saw me, and the weight was gone as soon as I saw that the colour was back in her cheeks.

I was so happy to see her getting back to her usual self, and relieved too to see that my wife was now smiling more naturally. They were laughing about something as I approached, and couldn't wait to tell me all about it. 

Yes, they were all smiles now, which was such a sharp contrast to when I'd dropped them off. Ma-chan told me that the nurses and doctors had quickly attended to them on their arrival, the nurses checking Hana's vitals as mum filled out the registration form with her details. They had Hana lay down, and she seemed already to be rallying at that point. A little drama was added however when the friendly nurse, referring to the registration form, asked Hana to state her date of birth. She looked a little concerned when Hana recounted a date completely different from that on the form. She asked again. The answer came back wrong again. She looked into my daughters eyes for further signs of disorientation, gesturing as she did, for the doctor to come over quickly.

At this point Ma-chan stepped in sheepishly to admit that, in her panic, she seemed to have written down her son's birth date by mistake. Hana tutted and let out an exasperated, 'Mummy!' And everyone laughed. Pretty soon after this Hana's colour started to return, much to everyone's relief.

It's great of course that the little episode passed so quickly, and Hana was back to her usual self in double-quick time, but that does nothing to stop the worry when the doctor's have no words of explanation for what might have caused it. Heart, normal; breathing, normal; all vitals, normal. So, what was it? Myocardial infarction? No. Pulmonary embolism? No. Arrhythmia? maybe, probably not. Heartburn? Maybe. Shrugs all round.

The doctors though, didn't seem worried. They said they were happy for us to leave. That we should just go home, keep an eye on Hana, and not hesitate to come right back in should anything give us further cause for concern.


The hospital from the park


The best fit for her symptoms, we found later on the Internet, is something called Precordial Catch Syndrome, or Texidor's Twinge (I'm not making this up, honest). I've never heard of it, but reassuringly, it's not uncommon, nor is it anything to worry unduly about. Of course we'll all look out for any recurrence, but also, in the meantime, forget all about it.

We are, though, unlikely to forget our Father's Day drama. On reflection, it's absolutely perfect that I should have spent Sunday doing the most real of Father's Day 'stuff.' Maybe that's a sign that I am actually a 'real' father. 

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