Sunday, January 28, 2007


I attended CPR/AED training workshop this morning from 9 am to noon. Guess what. When I woke up, it was already 8:19 am and I was supposed to ride my bicycle for about 40 minutes to get to the venue. Skipping breakfast, I rode my bike halfway and took a train, and luckily, I made it on time! :D

The training was fun! I have had CPR training apx. 10 years ago when I was in Kansai, but the CPR training we had today was a little different. They said that it was updated last year. Ten years ago, I was told to find a point to push for chest compressions by sliding two fingers from the rib bones (?) , and pump 15 times. But today, we were told to push between the nipples 30 times. So I guess they updated the instruction in accordance with this.

AED training was something totally new to me. The machines we used were this, this and this. The signs and labels on the foreign machines were in English but verbal/visual instructions were dubbed in Japanese (of course). The problem was the volume of the verbal instructions… I have a minor hearing problem, and I wasn’t confident about my ability to hear and understand all the instructions when I would actually do this in a public place, like a shopping mall. With the old model I used today, there was no way to turn up the volume. Hope the problem is improved with later models.

Some of the participants were young adults, but the majority was about my parents’ age, so there were hilarious happenings. Almost everyone was confused about the name of the equipment: whether it was ADE or AED. We used dummies like this one in these photos, so two out of three participants placed AED on the spot where the sick person's legs should be. And, man, CPR was sooooooooooooooo tiring! They said “keep doing it until the ambulance comes in apx. 6 minutes.” Gosh, I was exhausted after only 2 minutes! And in real situations, it would most likely take longer than 6 minutes.

When we practiced Heimlich maneuver toward the end of the training, I was a bit concerned about my dermoid cyst twisting. But actually it was the best environment if it had to happen, because several EMTs were there in the same room and an ambulance was parked right outside.

BTW, I wonder if this is the same in Japanese communities outside Japan, but the No.1 food that is associated with Heimlich maneuver here in Japan is probably mochi (rice cakes). And the mock situation for this training is usually a grandpa/grandma choking with a big piece of mochi in his/her throat on New Year’s holidays.

It was a good training and all participants looked happy to learn something very useful. But I’m sure the majority of ojichan and obachan participants (incl. myself) will suffer from muscle ache tomorrow and/or the day after. ;P
posted by obachan, 1/28/2007 04:16:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Hehehe …I waited to address this issue until someone else posts about it in English so that I can just link to it instead of explaining it from scratch in my poor Engrish. :P And now thanks to posts like this and this (great summary!) by Maki of I was just really very hungry and other online English newspapers, now this topic is known even outside Japan. (Well, obviously this guy who wrote this article for Times Online is not a natto lover. According to him, natto is “rotted” soybeans. I think someone who writes for Times must know the difference between rotting and fermentation, but somehow he seems to have thought that natto deserved the word, “rotted.” Of course he wouldn’t have used that word for cheese, a food widely accepted in Western world.)

Anyway, the program, Hakkutsu Aru Aru Daijiten II is now officially terminated, and I think it was a good solution for both the program staff and viewers. This program has been awfully – almost overly – influential here in Japan for many years. This was the one that started the kanten (agar) craze a couple of years ago. Of course, the program alone is not to be blamed for that. The fact is that with or without aruaru, a whole nation (incl. myself) keeps jumping on the health-geek bandwagon, moving from one health food to another in cycles of several months. Maybe it looks weird to people in other countries?

Aruaru was not the only TV program that has started a boom of certain food item. And like other similar programs, their burden was having to back up the health claims they make with some scientific (or pseudo-scientific?) data. But you have to be realistic, I think. You can’t expect to be able to keep obtaining significant or favorable test results all the time.

I didn’t watch the bogus program aired on Jan. 7th. But from their official apology (YouTube in Japanese), they seem to have made the program based on these key points they presented. (Sorry, my translation of these may not be adequate):
1) DHEA (a hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex) has a dieting effect.
2) Intake of isoflavone increases DHEA level in the body.
3) Natto is good for effective intake of isoflavone.
And they said that 1) was a research finding by D.T. Villareal, MD, Washington Univ., 2) was by B.L. Dillingham, Univ. of Guelph, and 3) by Prof. Nakatsugawa, Showa Women’s University. Combining these three, they concluded that "eating natto increases DHEA level."

I don’t know about 3), but I did find scientific articles that seem to have been used as the basis of 1) and 2). I'm no science person, but even to me, relating those researches to draw the above mentioned conclusion does not look like a promising task. So, in order to establish a relationship betw. DHEA and natto, they showed an American professor on screen and subtitled something like “A food familiar to you Japanese people can increase the DHEA level.” No, it was not a mistake in translation. In their apology, they admitted that the staff made it up. And they also made up test results, used “before & after” photos of those who were unrelated to the DHEA research, etc. etc.

It was a weekly magazine that first started looking into this issue. According to the editor (YouTube in Japanese), they started asking experts about natto’s dieting effect, and found it rather groundless. Then the magazine staff sent questions to aruaru about the way the foreign research findings were presented in the program and about the tests that aruaru said they conducted in Japan. First, aruaru answered that their program was based on reliable info. and theories. But after the second inquiry by the magazine, aruaru admitted the falsifications and officially apologized.

Termination of the program is a shame, in a sense, because I liked the cooking tips they introduced in aruaru. I still make omuraisu in "aruaru method." And they did give us good health tips, too. And the fact is ... don't we see bunch of other untrustworthy ads out there, of diet foods, cosmetics, detergents, etc. etc. with almost laughable "before & after" photos? But to me, termination of aruaru seems to be a good chance for the staff to put an end to something which grew too big and out of hand.

As for the Japanese nation as a whole… I don’t know. Would we ever put an end to jumping on the health-geek bandwagon?I sure doubt it. :P

Anyway, I want to emphasize one thing here: There is no doubt that natto IS a nutritious food and it is not "rotted" soybeans. In natto-making, soybeans are "fermented."
posted by obachan, 1/27/2007 12:55:00 AM | link | 6 comments |

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Last night I played pool (8-ball) with a friend of mine. After the game, we had nice ramen noodles at one of the vendors on the street. After coming home, the canned coffee I drank while playing pool kept me awake until 3:30 am this morning. Now I have trouble concentrating on the instructions on the photobucket website. Well, this photo-sharing service doesn't look very attractive to me anyway. I'll probably stick with flickr.

It's raining outside... :(

I'm too bored that I might post my illustrations somewhere on this blog.
posted by obachan, 1/21/2007 03:36:00 PM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


A prayer at 5:46 am, January 17.

posted by obachan, 1/17/2007 09:10:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


MRI scan on Dec. 28th. (Details here.)
MRI fee: 10689 yen (copayment) (= apx. US$ 89) *In Japan, copayment is 30% of the expense.

At the appointment on Jan. 5th, 2007…
To be perfectly honest, I was kind of excited about seeing the MRI images of my cyst. You know, it’s a rare chance to see inside of my body! When I went in, the first thing the doctor said was, “Yeah, it is dermoid.” He also said that the result of the blood test was good. Then he showed me the MRI images. My now-officially-diagnosed dermoid looked like a slightly squished ball, a part of which looking a lot brighter than the rest (iirc), but I couldn’t see anything like hair or teeth there in the ball. He also showed me the fibroids, and they looked like shadowy dots again.

Looking at those images, I didn’t feel scared…thanks to the doctor’s explanation and, more than anything else, the info. I had gotten from the internet. I was only worried about the doctor suggesting “wait-and-see” until the cyst grows bigger, and treating me like a hypochondriac if I asked for a surgery at my earliest convenience. But he didn’t hesitate to mention a surgery as a reasonable choice, which made me feel so much at ease. Thanks, doc! He said that if removing the cyst alone, a laparoscopic surgery would be applicable, but open surgery would be necessary if tried to remove both the cyst and fibroids. The former requires shorter stay at the hospital. He didn’t think the fibroids needed urgent removal, so I chose laparoscopic sg. because I shouldn’t be away from work for more than 2 weeks.

So surgery was decided just like that. But scheduling the surgery was much harder. I cannot take days off from work at the end and in the beginning of every month. That’s the time I take care of the insurance claim job, which no one else in our small office can do. And my boss had asked me not to have the operation in March or April, because those are the end and beginning of our fiscal year, i.e., the busiest months of the year.

January was already full. The two vacant slots in Feb. were in my busy weeks. Skipping March and April, the earliest possibility was May! Gosh! I have to keep this thing in my body for 4 more months? But maybe I shouldn’t complain… I read on the net about a woman who had to wait half a year for the surgery after diagnosis…

"Obachan looking at MRI image
and doc explaining"

So, this is where I am now.
From now, there won’t be much to write about until May...maybe.

Oh, BTW, have you wondered what “Pinoko” in the title means? It’s a little girl in a Japanese manga,“Black Jack” by Osamu Tezuka. Believe me. Some Japanese women who have dermoids call their cysts “Pinoko.” Even some doctors mention Pinoko when explaining what dermoid is to patients. I’m not kidding. “Black Jack” is a well-known and widely-loved manga story about an unlicensed genius surgeon. Pinoko is a cute little girl who was (no, not who had, but who "was") a teratogenous cystoma, i.e., dermoid cyst. (For more details, see “secondary characters” on this wikipedia page.) So, the minute I decided to write about my dermoid, I knew I was going to name my cyst after that little girl, though my Pinoko doesn’t speak like her. ;)

Does it look pathetic or childish that we, adult Japanese women, including a middle-aged obachan like me, call our hair ba… no, cysts that way? But let me tell you … this is helping me more than I thought, honestly. Living with a cyst is not much fun. Though mine is not very big, still I can’t help thinking about possible ovarian torsion almost all the time. And they say that ovarian torsion caused by a cyst just happens when it happens; you cannot prevent it by avoiding heavy exercise or physical labor. I read somewhere that even a bed-bound old lady could have it while lying in bed. Bummer!

So it is just too distasteful/disgusting to associate an issue like that with a picture of a hair ball that looks like a hair clog in a drain hole. HELL NO! A lovely ex-dermoid girl with pure and kind heart is much, MUCH better to live with. Don’t you think?

So Pinoko, don’t act up until we get you out in May ;)

To be cont’d

画像診断費用:10689 円(保険適用の患者負担分)  也

正 直、MRIの写真を見るのはちょっと楽しみでしたわ。自分の身体の中を見るチャンスなんてめったにないじゃないですか。診察室に入っていったら、先生が最 初に言ったことは、「やっぱりデルモイド。」そして血液検査の結果は問題なしとのこと。それから、MRIの画像を見せてもらったけど、デルモイドはちょっ とつぶれた球形で、その中に一部、他の部分より明るいところがあった(と思う)。でも髪の毛やら歯は見えなかったけど。子宮筋腫は、やっぱり、影のような 点々に見 えました。

腫瘍の画像を見ても、別に怖い気はしませんでした。先生の説明と、何よりインターネットで仕入れてた情報のおかげ か。私の唯 一の心配は、先生がこのまま様子を見ようと言うんじゃないか、ということ。私が都合のつき次第手術をして欲しい、とか言ったら、病的に心配しすぎみたい に扱われるんじゃないか、と。でも先生はすぐに手術を提案してくれて、一気に気が楽になりました。センセありがとう!手術は、嚢腫だけを切除するなら腹腔 鏡手術ですむけど、もし嚢腫と筋腫を両方切除するとなると、開腹手術になる、とのことでした。前者の方が、入院は短期間で済む。筋腫は特に急いで切除の必 要はなさそうとのことで、私は、腹腔鏡手術にしました。仕事、2週間以上休むわけにはいかないので。


1 月は既に満員。2月に2日だけ空きがあったけど、両方とも都合の悪い週。で、3月4月をはずすと、あとは5月!ひえ~あと4ヶ月もこれをお腹に入れてない とアカンの?!でも、診断のあと手術まで半年待たされた人の話もネット上で読んだことあるから、文句言えないか・・・。


と ころで、なんでこのシリーズのタイトルにPinokoが出てくるか、多分わかりますよね。ブラックジャックのピノコです。私も最近まで知らなかったけど、 デルモイドができた女性で、それをピノコと呼ぶ人、結構多いみたいですね。ピノコはもともと畸形嚢腫、つまりデルモイドだったので。私も、自分のをピノコ と名づけました。まあコレは本物のピノコみたいにしゃべりませんが。

い い歳して自分の嚢腫にそんな名前つけるなんて、あきれます?けど、 これ正直、私にとっては思ったより助けになってますよ。嚢腫を持って生活するのって、ありがたい話じゃないですよ。私のなんかそんなに大きいほうじゃない けど、それでも茎捻転のことをしょっちゅう考えずにいられないですもん。しかも捻転は、激しい運動とか肉体労働を避けたら予防できる、とかいうもんじゃ ないらしいし。寝たきりのおばあちゃんにでも起こることがあるとか?ひえ~・・・。そういう心配事が、風呂場の排水口に詰まった髪の毛のカタマリみたいな もんのイ メージに結び ついてたら、ホンマやってられないです。純粋で心やさしい、もと畸形嚢腫のかわいらしい女の子の方が、ずっといいです。



posted by obachan, 1/16/2007 10:26:00 AM | link | 11 comments |

Monday, January 15, 2007


Take a break from the dermoid story ;)

These are the shots I took yesterday when I went for a short walk along the river at the sunset.

BTW, now I see a sign on my blogger dashboard and it tells me to switch to tne new version of Blogger. But it only gives me, "Could not switch you to the new Blogger" message everytime I give it a try.
BOO! :(

posted by obachan, 1/15/2007 01:02:00 AM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, January 14, 2007


It was that night that I started a frantic net search on ovarian cysts. What do people usually do with a 5 cm cyst?! According to the websites I consulted, the rule of thumb at most Japanese hospitals seemed to be “surgery for cysts 6 cm or more in size.” But does that mean a 5 cm cyst will never cause torsion of the ovary? Of course, you cannot find a guarantee like that anywhere.

But when I googled specifically with “dermoid cysts” in Japanese, I found that many Japanese women did have surgery when their cysts were 5 cm in size. And as I learned more about that particular type of benign tumor, thanks to websites like this, it made sense to me. Other cysts that contain fluids may sometimes shrink or even disappear. But dermoids containing things like teeth or hair do not; they keep growing steadily. No medication works and removal is the treatment of choice -- it has to be removed someday anyway. And perhaps because its content is more substantial, the risk of ovarian torsion seems to be higher with dermoid than with other cysts. Then what’s the point in waiting for a 5 cm dermoid to grow to be 6 cm? Isn’t that just giving it more chance to cause torsion? And maybe surgery would be easier with a smaller cyst?

So I decided to ask the doctor to remove my cyst when my work is not too busy, even though mine is smaller than 6 cm. What I want LEAST is ovarian torsion unexpectedly causing me to be absent from work longer for a bigger surgery.

That decision made me feel at ease. But now I want more and more practical information about the procedure of the surgery, cost and how soon I can go back to my work. I’m still net surfing every day for the info. When my turn comes, I’ll make sure to share such information. Hope someone finds it helpful ;)

…. When I first heard that my cyst may contain hair or teeth or bone, it sounded nothing but gross. I felt disgusted as if my body went crazy and produced an alien. But as I learned why a dermoid can develop in the ovary, I felt differently… You know what? I felt somewhat guilty. Guilty for not giving my body a chance to create a new life… a baby, because I felt as if my body was telling me, by producing such small body parts, how much it wanted to give birth to a new life. I know this sounds irrational, and I’m not ashamed of me being single, but I couldn’t ignore this slight guilt feeling. I had a couple cans of beer in front of my laptop that night.

To be cont’d

その晩から、卵巣嚢腫について ネットで必死のリサーチ。5cmの嚢腫が見つかった時って、みんな普通どうするの?!いくつかサイトを見たところ、どうも日本 の病院では、「6cm以上だと手術」というのがだいたいの方針らしい。じゃあ5cmの嚢腫では茎捻転は起こらないってことですか絶対ですか?!もちろんそ んな保障なんてどこにもないやろなぁ、絶対なんてことは。

でも、「皮様嚢腫」に特定してググってみたら、5cmで切除手術してる人がけっ こ う見つかりました。このタイプの嚢腫についてもっと詳しく知ると、それもうなずける・・・。中身が液体のタイプの他の嚢腫は、縮んだりひとりでに消えたり することもある。でも中に歯だの髪の毛だの入っているデルモイドは、そうならない。着実に育ち続ける。薬も利かないし、まあ出来てしまったら、いつかは切 除するしかないというモノ。そして多分、中に液体よりもっとシッカリしたものが入ってるせいなのか、茎捻転はこの嚢腫でおこることが多いとか。とし たら、すでに5cmのデルモイドが6cmになるまで待つことに、大して意味ないのでは?ただ捻転の起こるチャンスをより与えるだけとちゃうの?いっそかえって小さいほうが、手術もそれだけ楽なのでは?

と いうことで、私は、6cmになってないけど、私の仕事の忙しくないときにもう切除しちゃって下さい、と先生にたのむことにしました。万一茎捻転になって、 思いがけない時に、より大きい手術のためにより長期仕事から離れるはめになったら、それが何より一番困ることなので。

決 心したら、気が楽になりました。でもそうなると、今度は、手術と、その費用と、術後どのくらいで仕事に戻れるのか、とかいう、実際的なことについて調べな ければ。で、今もネットサーチの毎日です。自分の番が来たら、そういう情報をかならず書き留めていきますね。どなたかのお役にたてれば。

最初に、自分の嚢腫には髪の毛とか歯とか骨とかが入ってるかもしれないと言われたときは、気持ち悪いのヒトコトでした。自分の身体はどこか狂って、エイリア ンを産み出したのか、みたいに気色わるい思い。でも、このサイト(注: このサイトの成熟奇形腫とは皮様嚢腫のこと)でなぜ卵巣にデルモイドができるのか少しわかったら、気持ちが変わりました。ちょっと罪悪感を感じたんで す。自分の身体に、赤ちゃんを産むというチャンスを与えてないことに対して。こんな、小さい身体のパーツ(毛とか歯とか)を作ってしまうことで、私の身体 が、こんなにも新しい命を生み出す仕事をしたいんだぞと訴えてるような気がして。アホな考え方です。それに私、独身でいることを恥じてもないです。けどこ のチョットした罪悪感は、やっぱ無視できませんでした。その晩は、ラップトップの前で、缶ビール2本ぐらい空けちゃいました。


posted by obachan, 1/14/2007 02:14:00 PM | link | 5 comments |

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Here, you have to have the patience of a monk when in the waiting room in a big hospital. Maybe it’s the same in other cities in Japan, or in other countries, too. That day (Dec.15, 2006), I knew my turn could be the last, because obviously my case was not urgent. And the insight I got there after a couple of hours’ meditation was: “I should have had a bigger breakfast.”

As expected, my name was called last. There was a male doctor (again!) in the room. No, I’m not complaining. Basically, I don’t care much about the gender of the doctor I consult with. I want a good doctor who is understanding and easy to talk to, regardless of gender. That’s all. But to me, transv. US is a little different story… I don’t want a young, good-looking male doctor OR too-old male doctor for that. I just feel more embarrassed with such doctors. Don’t ask me why. So I was relieved that the male doctor was rather young but not too good-looking. (Sorry! :P)

With palpation, the doctor didn’t think my cyst was big. But when he saw the US (ultrasound) image, I heard him saying, “Hmmmm…there IS one… Rather big...” Big?! You said Big?! He showed me the display screen and said that the cyst was 5 cm in size now, and there were also 3 fibroids, 1 cm each. So it HAS GROWN!! And now I have fibroids, too! :O On the display, my cyst looked like a slightly squished, soft, gray ball, and the fibroids looked like small shadow-like dots. The doctor said that many women live with fibroids, so I didn’t have to be scared. Oh, I’m not scared. I’ve heard/read so about fibroids. But the fact that my cyst grew bigger was a little shocking to me. Five centimeters! HOW BIG IS IT?

At that point, the doctor did not give me a formal diagnosis of dermoid. He scheduled my MRI scan for Dec. 28, which was the earliest available slot, and my next appointment for Jan. 5th, 2007. I signed a consent form regarding the use of contrast agent (because in rare cases patients develop anaphylaxis), then took a blood test in a different room. That was all.
Fee: 5070 yen (copayment) (= apx. US$ 42) *In Japan, copayment is 30% of the expense.
Special healthcare expenditure: 2000 yen. (Not covered by medical insurance)
TOTAL: 7170 yen (incl. tax). (=apx. US$ 60)

After I left the hospital that day, I had to go straight to work and didn’t have time to go back to my apartment until late at night. While at work, I couldn’t think about anything else but my cyst. I was not worried about the cyst (and fibroids, too) being life-threatening or anything. But I just couldn’t get what the size “5 cm“ could mean. How big is 5 cm?! Yeah, I saw my cyst on the display screen, but I have to actually SEE how big it looks in my daily life, compared to the things I see every day around me. But there was no ruler around… I finally went into a stationery shop and grabbed a ruler.
Five centimeters looked rather big for something unwanted in my body. (I didn’t buy the ruler, BTW :P)

To be cont’d

大 きい病院の待合では、坊さん並の忍耐力が要るもんです。多 分、他の都市でも、ひょっとしたら他の国でもそんなもんなのかも。その日(2006年12月15日)私の番は多分最後になるだろうなーと思ってました。明 らかに緊急のケースじゃないから。で、待合室で1, 2時間瞑想して悟ったこと:「朝ごはんもっと食べておくべきだった。」

やっぱり私の 番 は最後。で、入っていくと男の先生(また!)がおられました。いや、不満なわけじゃないです。大体、私は自分がかかるお医者さんの性別にはこだわらない方 です。男か女かよりは、腕が良くて、言うことをよくわかってくれて、話しやすい先生であること。それが第一。ただ、婦人科のアノ手のエコー検査だけは例外 で・・・あれは、若くてハンサムな男の先生とか、すごい年配の男の先生とかだと、よけいハズカシ・・・(理由は聞かないで下さい。)だから、その先生が、 若いほうだけどハンサムすぎることはなかったので、良かったです。(スイマセン!)

触診では、嚢腫はそんなに大きいようには思えないと先 生言ったけど、エコーの画像を見たら、「うーん、あるねぇ、結構大きいねぇ。」と言うのが聞こえました。大きい?大きいって言いました今?!画像を見せな がら、先生は、嚢腫が5cmになっていて、他に、各1cm大の子宮筋腫が3つある、と私に説明してくれました。そっ、育ってたのか嚢腫!!しかも今度は筋 腫までできてるって!:O 画面上、私の嚢腫は、ちょっとつぶれた形のやわらかい灰色の球形みたいで、筋腫はちっちゃい影のような点々に見えました。先生 は、子宮筋腫を持って生活してる人は多いんで、怖がることはないですよ、と言ってくれました。はあ、怖がってはいないです。そんなふうに聞いたり読んだり したことあります。けど、嚢腫が大きくなってた、というのはちょっとショックで。5cmて!それってどーゆー大きさなんですか?

その時点 では、デルモイド(皮様嚢腫)という最終的な診断は出ず。MRIを、12月28日(それが一番早い空きだった)に、次の診療を年明け第一発目2007年の 1月5日に、予約入れてくれました。で、造影剤使用に関するコンセントフォームにサインして(ごくまれにショックを起こす患者さんがいるとのこと)、それ から別の部屋で血液検査のため採血。で、終了。
費用:5070円(検査料3999円を含む。) 保険適用の患者負担分
特定療養費:2000円 自費
計:7170円(含消費税)   也

そ の日は病院を出たあと仕事に直行で、夜遅くまで自分の部屋に帰れなかったけど、仕事中は嚢腫のことばっかり考えてました。いや、嚢腫や筋腫が命にかかわる と思って心配してたわけではなく。ただ、嚢腫の5cmという大きさの意味を把握できなくて。それってどーゆー大きさなんですか?確かにエコーの画像では嚢 腫を見たけど、それが毎日の生活で見慣れた物の大きさに比べて、どのくらい大きく見えるのか、それをこの目で確かめずにいられなくて。でも手近に物差しが ない・・・。しまいに私、文房具屋に入っていって、物差しを手にとって見ました。
5cmって、自分の体の中にある不要な物体にしちゃ、そこそこ大きいじゃ ないですか。


posted by obachan, 1/13/2007 01:27:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, January 12, 2007


Now I don’t remember when I first noticed it, but in the autumn of 2006, I was already aware that I often feel a little tension, or feeling of fullness(?) in right abdomen when I was tired… or even when not tired. Absolutely no pain. Just the feeling that something is there. But still it never occurred to me to relate it to my cyst -- I didn’t expect it to GROW. There was another thing I was aware of at the end of summer 2006: It seemed like I started having longer periods.

Then in October, I had a very long period which lasted almost 3 weeks. Actually it was almost like having two periods back to back with the first one unfinished. No Kidding!! Until that time, I had never ever had irregular periods in my life. It had been darn regular no matter what happened in my life. So it scared the hell out of me, because, from the not-very-thorough research I did two years ago, a simplistic equation was formed in my mind: “irregular bleeding = suspected tumor.” Did my cyst turn malignant?! Or do I have something else now?!

Now, this time, I was definitely willing to go for MRI scan. But I ended up wasting some time, trying to make it less expensive. (Tell you what. Obachan is a sitngy creature, anytime, anywhere...)

Here in this rural city, MRI scan is available at several big hospitals only. And in Japan, if you go to a big hospital (with 200 beds or more) without a referral letter, “特定療養費 Special Healthcare Expenditure” will be charged at your first appointment in addition to the fee. To avoid that, I tried to get a referral letter from the clinic where I had the cancer screening two years ago.

But the clinic staff said that the doctor couldn’t write a referral letter based on two-year-old medial data. Yeah, of course. I was told to have an echography there again, but it was available on Wednesdays only, which were the days I had to work. Mmmm….Finally the staff advised me that it would probably be faster and less expensive to go directly to the big hospital without a referral letter, and I may have to have another echography there anyway. Sounds reasonable. So, avoiding my busiest weeks at work, it was almost mid December when I finally saw the doctor at the big hospital to examine what I had in my right ovary.

To be cont’d

最 初に気づいたのがいつだったか覚えてないけど、2006年の秋にはもう、疲れた時によく、右のお腹が張った感じがするなぁと気づいてました。いや、疲れて ないときでも。痛みは全然なくて、ただ、何かがそこにあるな、って感じ。それでも、嚢腫に関係あるとは思ってませんでした。そんな育つもんだと思ってな かったので。あと、2006年の夏の終わりには、生理が長引きだしたみたい、と気づきました。

そのうち10月には、なんと3週間ぐらい続 くのが来たからびっくり。1回目のが終わらないうちに2回目が続けて来たみたいな感じで。それまで私の人生で、何が起ころうと生理が不順になったことはた だの1度もなかったもんで、これにはびびりました。2年前になまはんかに調べた事から、「不順な出血=腫瘍の疑い」と、短絡的に思い込んでたので。あの嚢 腫が悪性化?!それとも他に何か出来たとか?!

も う今回は、絶対MRI受けようと思いましたね。でも、安く上げようとして、かえって時間をロスしてしまいました。MRIは大きな病院にしかない。200床 以上の大きな病院に紹介状なしで行くと、初診の時に特定療養費をとられる。なのでとられないように、まずは2年前に子宮癌検診を受けたクリニックに紹介状 を書いてもらおうとしたんです。(セコい?)

し まいにクリニックの人が、多分、紹介状なしで直接その大きな病院を受診したほうが早道で費用も少なくてすむかも、どのみちむこうでもまたエコー検査するか もしれないし、とアドバイスしてくれました。言われてみればそうか。で、仕事の忙しい週をはずして、やっとその大きな病院で私の右卵巣にあるものを診ても らったのは、既に12月のなかばになってました。


posted by obachan, 1/12/2007 09:59:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


OK. I’m finally getting to it. This is going to be 'part one' of the story of me and my dermoid cyst. Yep, there will be a series of posts here on this topic, because I need to live with the cyst for a few more months before I have a laparoscopic surgery. (BTW, I’ve decided to write this series in Japanese, too. Ever since I got a formal diagnosis, I have done a frantic net search for just any information about this benign tumor. And the posts written by fellow Japanese bloggers who had their dermoid cysts removed have been helping me immensely. That inspired me to make a small contribution to the dermoid-related information in Japanese cyberspace.)

So, what’s dermoid cyst anyway? I think this site gives a pretty good overview of what it is. Mine was found two years ago at a medical checkup. The city I live in provides women who turned 40 y.o. with a set of cancer screening tests (not free of charge, but with a pretty good discount) scheduled on certain dates at certain facilities. And the screening for uterine cancer found a 3 cm cyst in my right ovary. (Now you know how old I am. ;)

In 2004, after the endometrial cancer screening (iirc), the doctor told me that no cancer was found. Phew! But he took out a sheet of paper with illustrations of the ovary and uterus printed, and wrote “dermoid” in katakana. He said what I had in the right ovary looked like it. My mind went blank. What the heck is dermoid?! Then he wrote its Japanese name, 皮様のう腫, but it still didn’t make much sense to me. Just the last Chinese character “腫” told me that it was some kind of tumor.

The doctor explained that it was a cyst which might contain things like hair or teeth. Gee! What did I do to get something like that in my ovary?! Using the illustration, he showed me where the cyst was, and explained that it was mostly benign but when grown bigger, it could cause torsion of the ovary, which would result in an emergency surgery. Then on the same sheet, he jotted down the steps I should take:
1) CAT- or MRI- scan (He wrote “MUST” here.),
2) Routine checkup every 3 months, and
3) A blood test to measure tumor markers.
Actually the No.3) was taken care of at the same clinic before I left for home that day, and I got the result a week later. All three markers measured (CA19-9, CA125 and CA72-4) were very low.

So, with the doctor’s explanation and the result of the blood test, I concluded that I didn’t need to worry about my cyst. It was not a cancer. That's enough. I did ask the doctor, before leaving the clinic, whether the MRI-scan would be covered by the medical insurance (and the answer was YES), but I wasn’t really planning to go for it. If not cancer, why should I worry and waste money on checkups? Honestly that was the way I felt. I think the doctor told me to contact him when I decided to have MRI scan, so that he could write a reference letter, but I didn't.

After that, I didn’t feel like doing any more research about the cyst -- like how/why such a thing develops in the ovary, how big it can be, how fast/slow it grows, at which size I should start worrying about the torsion of the ovary, etc. Somehow I was thinking that mine would stay at the same size (3 cm) forever, and soon I quit even thinking about it. After all, there were more troubles in my life to worry about at that time… :P

To be cont’d


皮様嚢腫とは何か、については、最近見つけたこのサイトとかこのサイト(成 熟嚢胞性奇形腫についての部分)の 情報が、よくまとまってて私にはありがたかったです。ただ、下の方に摘出されたデルモイドの写真が載ってたりするので、気持ち悪 いと思う人はそこまでスクロールしないことをオススメ。私の嚢腫は、2年前に40歳の記念検診の子宮癌検診で最初に見つかり、 (これで歳がバレましたね) 右卵巣にあって、大きさは当時3cmでした。

あれは2004年、子宮体癌検査の後だったと思うけど、先生か ら、癌はなかったとの話でホッとしたところ、先生、卵巣やら子宮のイラストが載ってる紙を出してきて、その上にカタカナで「デルモイド」と書いて、多分こ れらしき物が右卵巣にあると言うし。デルモイドって何じゃそら?!先生、次は日本語で「皮様のう腫」と書いてくれたけど、それでも何のことやら。ただ、腫 という漢字があるからには、何かの腫瘍だとは思ったけど。

先生によると、それは、髪の毛とか歯とかを含んでたりする嚢腫だとのことでし た。ど、どうしたらそんなものがそんなところに入るわけ?!私、何をした?!先生はイラスト上で、私の嚢腫のある場所を教えてくれて、ほとんどの場合良性 だけど、大きくなると茎捻転を起こす可能性がある、そうなると緊急手術が必要、と説明してくれました。で、これから私がするべきことを箇条書きにしてくれ たのが、コレ:
1.CT or MRI (「必ず」と付け足してあった)
2.定期検診 3ヶ月毎
この3番については、さっそくその日、帰る前にそこのクリニックで採血して、1週間後に結果が判明。CA19-9、 CA125、CA72-4の3種類のマーカー全部、基準値よりはるかに低かったのでひと安心。

で、 私は、そう心配すること無いかぁ、という気になってしてしまいました。癌でないことがわかったから、もうそれで十分。まあ先生には、MRIって保険 きくんですか?って聞いてはおいたけど、(で、答えはイエスだったけど、)受けようとも正直思ってなかった。癌じゃないのなら、なんで検診にムダにお金を 使う必要があるやら。正直、そういう気分だったので。確か先生は、私がMIR受ける時には紹介状を書くから、と言ってくれてたけど、私、そのまま放ってま した。

その後は、ネットで嚢腫についてさらに調べる気にもなれず―― 例えば、なぜそんな 腫瘍が卵巣にできるのか、大きさがどのぐらいになるのか、どんなスピードで成長するのか、どれだけ大きくなったら茎捻転の心配をすべきなのか、とかについ て。なんとなく、自分のは永久に3cmのままでいるんじゃないか、と思ったまま、そのうち嚢腫のことを考えるのも止めてしまってました。結局その頃は、人 生、他に もっと心配する事があったもんで。


posted by obachan, 1/10/2007 08:37:00 PM | link | 5 comments |

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Some Shots from New Year's Day

These are the shots I took at my parents' house on New Year's Day.

Household altar

Plants ... ?

posted by obachan, 1/06/2007 12:38:00 PM | link | 3 comments |