My Rescue from Hakodate

Why did I have to be rescued from Hakodate or, more specifically, from the La Jolie Hotel in the district of Motomachi?

I had to be rescued because, in late October of this year, Janet, my partner of 32+ years, died an accidental death there while we were on holiday, and I fell in an almost comatose heap as a consequence.

Hakodate is a very pleasant port city at the southern end of the northernmost island of Hokkaido in Japan. La Jolie is an extremely lovely Hotel in a desirable neighbourhood close to many of the things tourists would want to see. I would go back to Hakodate in a trice, and stay at La Jolie without hesitation. The staff there treated me with grace and courtesy, almost like a friend, even though my partner had just died in their Hotel.

So, with me incapable of any sensible action, I had to be rescued. And, within a day or two, my son (John) had arrived to do just this.

John did a sterling job. He managed to get me out of myself to the extent that this was possible. We dined at some fine restaurants. He started the process of making a claim on my travel insurance. He was with me for all the police reports and talks with funeral people. He was with me at the cremation, when the Japanese custom of kotsuage was sprung on me. See my previous blog for an induction into this most disconcerting tradition.

All preliminary formalities completed, we were able to leave. We began a 36 hour journey from Hakodate in Japan to Perth in Australia. The overnight flight from Haneda (Tokyo) to Sydney was endurable but only just. On arrival in Perth, I was taken under the wing of my daughter (Jenny) and son-in-law (David). Now, almost two months after Janet’s death, I’m still living in their spacious home in Mosman Park, a suburb in Perth that would be considered among the most desirable.

Jenny’s household consists of Jenny herself, her husband David, and my four Perth grandchildren. It is a medical family. Jenny is head of Cardiology at the massive Joondulup hospital servicing the northern suburbs of Perth. David is, among other things, Professor of Cardiology at Notre Dame University in the southern suburbs. They known, and are known by, most of medical Perth.

My physical health had taken a beating from the shock of Janet’s death. So, I was checked out promptly by some of Jenny’s medical colleagues. Calling in favours, she was able to get my neurological condition checked out thoroughly. Among other things, I was subjected to such pleasures as an MRI scan, and to the testing by electric shock of the condition of my peripheral nerves.

An unexpected problem made itself apparent to the medicos:

I was being slowly poisoned by a drug – leflunomide – prescribed to assist in my recovery from the Poly Myalgia Rheumatica I contracted about a year earlier. It was affecting my sense of balance, and hence my ability to walk. Unfortunately, I’d been taking it for some time, so when I stopped taking it, I didn’t get an instant recovery. It took weeks, and my body is still not completely free of the poison.

Meanwhile, my daughter advised that I seek medical attention for my benign but enlarged prostate, a condition from which many men of my age suffer. She advised me to get a TURP (Trans Urethral Re-section of the Prostate) while I was here in Perth where class-A medical attention was on hand. So, I’m now lined up for this TURP thing which will presumably happen in January. Then, I’ll return to my home in Keppel Sands, having had a more than sufficient rest period in which to recover from the dreadful tragedy that had happened back in October. What’s more, and in no way planned by me, I will have been the beneficiary of a first-class medical makeover. There’s not much more I would need to face the future with enthusiasm.

Frankly, I can’t wait to get back to Keppel Sands, and to the folk I regard these days as my people. I feel I can now confront the ghosts that will inevitably be waiting for me around every corner, in the house formerly belonging to me and Janet, but now belonging to me alone.

I am really really grateful to those family members – my son, daughter, and son-in law – who rescued me from the impossible situation I faced in Hakodate.

Family that will be there for you when needed are truly a precious commodity.