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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


Second surgery operation


When I was in the 2nd year of junior high school, I was wondering if I should receive a second surgery operation. All the Hibakusha who suffered from keloidal burns experienced terrible pain when the gauze pieces on the wound were changed. That must be the biggest possible pain anybody can stand. When I had the operation for the first time, when I was in the 2nd grade, I cried and resisted when I heard nurse saying "Doctor's coming." One of my elder sisters was always with me at the hospital. It seemed that she did not know what to do when I cried. Growing older, I was concerned that I would not be allowed to cry as loudly as I used to. I knew that the doctor would peel off the gauze. The wound would first look white, then the red blood would come out. I would have to have my toes literally stitched. In order to correct the shape of my foot, they would pierce four of my toenails so as to pull my fingers by a thread and tie them to a panel. How I hated to go through all those agonies again! On the other hand, all I wanted to do was walk normally on my normal feet. Therefore, I decided to take the second operation at the Nagasaki University Hospital during my summer vacation.

The hospital building had two chimneys. One of them was bent in the middle from being knocked badly by the atomic bomb. It looked as if it might collapse at any moment. The hospital room, where six patients stayed together, was dim. My roommates had different occupations; a company employee, a fishmonger, a goldfish vendor, and so on. Next to me was a believer in a certain religion who prayed loudly every morning at 5 o'clock; it could have been 6. I begged him to pray more quietly because I could not stay asleep. "A smaller voice wouldn't be heard." was his reply. Other patients gave up and mumbled to each other "How can he...? Every morning...." Therefore, I had to hear the prayer every morning during my stay in hospital.

My sister Masako stayed with me to look after me. She had to sleep on a Futon mattress on the concrete floor, while I was in bed. It must have been hard. After a week, she was allowed to sleep on my bed right beside me. She had learned the knack and stretched her arms over me when she heard the voice "Doctor's coming." I clung to them and endured my pain while the gauze was changed. I clutched my sister's wrists so tightly that they turned red. "Hide! You hurt me!" she jokingly complained.

I was in hospital for about 40 days. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I woke up to the footsteps of nurses running up and down the corridor. The next morning, I would hear about death of somebody who had looked pretty well the previous day. That made me think about difficult issues of life and death, and how precious life was. I don't know how my parents raised enough money. I can only guess that my relatives generously helped us.

Despite the pain and the cost, the result was not very remarkable. I learned again how horrible the damage was. The heat and the radiation of the atomic bomb had destroyed not only my skin but also the tissues deep inside, to an incurable degree.