日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【February 2019 No.401】Living with Illness II


My Disease Makes Life Seem More Precious

                                                                                                                         by Hoshino Takuya, member  Sugamo Tokiwa Church, Tokyo District


I am a 47-year-old man, and since May 2014, I have been commuting to a hospital three times a week for dialysis treatment due to chronic renal failure caused by an, as yet, undetermined condition. I realized that up to now, I have never really prayed to God to cure me, to heal my disease.


In dialysis treatment, blood is filtrated by machine through two tubes inserted into blood vessels in the arm, and each session takes about four hours. During that time, I lie down in bed and watch movies on DVDs, or I sleep. In four years, the number of movies I have watched has grown to be at least 800. There are even times when I am scolded by medical personnel for snoring loudly! I commute to a hospital that is a five-minute walk from my home, so in my everyday life, I haven't been particularly inconvenienced by having to undergo dialysis. Dialysis treatment involves withdrawing and reinserting blood. Before beginning dialysis I thought it would be scary and painful, but actually, it is relaxing.


Perhaps the reason I haven't been praying for healing is that in my case, the disease and dialysis treatment itself is not so difficult physically. But I was afraid of living as a dialysis patient and as a person with a handicap in a society of healthy people. I thought, "I do not want to live for so long, just for the purpose of having a long life, if I have to live connected to a bunch of tubes." I cannot deny that this thought was a reflection of the way I looked at the existence of sick people and people with handicaps who are living now. In order to avoid being seen that way myself, I denied the fact that I was a patient with an incurable disease. I pretended to be a healthy person even though I was a person with a handicap. As much as my physical strength allowed, I began going to a gym, swimming in the pool, and running at night. With a saxophone in hand, I also began going to a bar to participate in jazz sessions. Basically, I wanted to be considered a member of the society of healthy people and thought I could achieve that by distancing myself from the typical lifestyle of a sick person.


I thought, "I do not want to live, if I have to live connected to a bunch of tubes." And I did not even doubt my assumption that such thinking protects my own dignity. At present there are still just two tubes, but it seems that "life connected to a bunch of tubes" is becoming more of a reality than before. However, I certainly do not think that I want to quit living. Rather, I think that I want to live even more. It is ironic, because I thought that getting close to death meant that as the possibilities in one's life decrease, one's obsession with living would also decrease.


Even though I cannot even see what kind of work I should do, and though the reality is that I have this disease, I still think that I want to live. I think the reason I want to live is just because I do not understand well the task of a living person. Perhaps I want to live because the kind of work I thought I should do and the kind of work God is entrusting to me are different. I have discovered that though we only see reality as being "closed," God announces that it is "open." Let's just say the reason is that God uses us as the world's debris in a way that we cannot even imagine.


Though we know that life and death belong to God, we human beings have a dark desire to control one’s life and death, and other people, and to behave as the ruler of life and death. I think that is the reason for the following phenomenon: when our health is in a serious condition, we request to be notified of the fact, yet it is common for us to hesitate to inform our own close relatives when they are in such a situation.


Living is a process of discarding and giving up on various things but, of course, for a person with a disease, the rate of that process will be faster than that of other people. The number of tubes connected to me will not become fewer than at present; rather the number will increase more and more. Just as I thought four years ago when two tubes were connected to me, the more tubes there are, the more life becomes a precious thing to me. In spite of the way reality appears, we have the strength, the ability, and the will to go on living. I think this understanding itself is from the "Word which was in the beginning," and it is this that supports me even when I have a twisted view of myself. (Tr. KT)


—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), September 2018 issue




 私は、47歳の男性で、原疾患を不明とされる慢性腎不全(chronic renal failure)により2014年5月より透析dialysis治療のため、週に3度通院をしていますが、今日まで「病気を治してください、癒やしてください」と祈ったことがなかったことに気付きました。







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