Fukushima: An email from a Japanese lady

An email, from a Japanese lady in her 40s, to Kinoshita Kouta, a Japanese journalist. Original text can be found here.

We have just managed to evacuate from Tokyo to Fukuoka, despite having pains and numbness on my body, thanks to your help.

My husband is in his 50s, myself in 40s and my three daughters are 14, 11 and 6.

On 14 March, every one of our family took iodine tablets. At six o’clock on 15 March, we evacuated by car. We were at Shizuoka at 9am via Tomei highway, then at 13pm at Shiga. From Shizuoka, we mistakenly let the air come into car. I had some pains under my ears around noon. On 17 March, my husband went back to Tokyo via airplane. We stayed in Nagasaki until 1 April. From 2 April until 10 April, we were in Tokyo. It was time for enrollment ceremonies etc at school, and we lived normal life, except that the water we drank and the food we ate were either from abroad or from western Japan.

We stayed in Nagasaki from 11 April until 25 July, but my eldest daughter refused to change schools, so she remained in Tokyo.

From 26 July until 25 October, we were in Bunkyo ward, Tokyo. We wore face masks, and bought food and water from faraway places. Children brought their own lunchboxes to school, avoiding school lunch.

From 26 October, we went to Fukuoka.

My husband still lives in Tokyo. Since July, he’s continiously having problems in his throat. He has dry coughs. In November he had bloody phlegm. He went to see a doctor who had a look using a scope but he told my husband it was because of dryness.

My symptoms are as follows:

15 March Pains under my ears.
May Severe depression. Pains under my ears and in my lymph nodes.
July Pains in my throat (at Nagasaki)
28 July Smarting and throbbing pains behind my neck through to my shoulders.
August I went to see a doctor(a specialist in internal medicine). Had blood test. My white blood cells were lower than the standard, and my red blood cells also. But the doctor did not think it could be regarded as disorderly, perhaps a menopausal disorder. The doctor told me to go and see a psychiatrist. In mid August, I had slight fever, between 36.8 and 37.3 C. The pains gradually widened to my arms and legs. Had convulsion in muscles of my body, at not one place in particular. It was as if small insects were moving up and down in the muscles of my arms and legs.
In late August, I had sharp pains in palms of my hands and at the back of my feet, like an electric shock. Throbbing pains under my ears and necks through to my chin. Pains on my joints (knees, shoulders, elbows, hands and ankles).
I could not stay up during August. I spent my time lying on my bed, trying to cool down my body with cold compress.
In September, I had headache like it was going numb. Dizziness also began. My throat had pains, it felt as if I had mustard on it. Went to see an otolaryngologist but nothing was found. My mouth smarted. My heart throbbed. My hands began to shake.
In October, I had pains beside my nose(nasal sinus?).
In November, my eye sights deteriorated for an unusual extent. Blurring. No menstruation.
As of December, all of the above symptoms are continuing. It is different each day. I can only manage to do the least housework needed. Otherwise I am lying on my bed most of the day. Mainly the pains in my lympth node and numbness of muscles are so strong and unbearable. Also, at a health check I had on 1 December, something between 5mm and 7mm was found in my left breast, so I have booked to see a specialist.

My eldest daughter‘s atopic dermatitis got worse since June. She used to have it when she was an infant, but for the last 7 or 8 years she didn’t have any symptoms.In August, she had pains under her ears. Headache. Severe eczema around her lips. Menstrual irregularity. In September, pains in her joints. In October, Pains in the muscles of her stomach(She hasn’t done any sports). In November , Blurred eyesight. In December, Tooth pains (no bad tooth)

Second daughter
In August, headache, pains in her throat, phlegm (she had to clear her throat every minute and couldn’t sing during her music classes.) Dizziness. Sense of fatigue. Sleepiness. Pains under her ears. In December, sudden deterioration of her eyesight. It was 1.2 in June but now it was 0.3 and 0.5.

Youngest daughter
From April, bet-wetting, even twice in one night. In July and August , nosebleed for three times each. Pains in her throat, had to clear her throat all the time. Pains under her ears.

In September, she couldn’t get up in the morning and couldn’t go to school. She said she was dizzy (She isn’t like that anymore after we evacuated and her bed-wetting got less). In November she said her legs were numb. Pains in her urinary bladder and the anus. All of my daughters had nook under their eyes, but I think they look better after we evacuated.

We had our thyroids checked in Tokyo, in October. My eldest daughter and I had our blood tested and had ultrasound tests. My second and and youngest daughters only had ultrasound tests. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My thyroid had diffuse enlargement. Was told to come every 6 months or a year, but no treatment needed. My eldest daughter had simple diffuse enlargement in her thyroid. Her thyroglobulin being a little high but hormone levels were OK.

My second daughter ; No diagnosis. Her lymph nodes a bit swollen.
My youngest daughter ; Only some cysts (doesn’t say where in the original text) with no seriousness.
My husband went to hear the diagnosis and was told that “your wife maybe having a nervous breakdown” and “we can’t think of people having thyroid disorders because we Japanese take natural iodine from seeweeds, unlike people in Chernobyl.”.

I went to pediatrician to ask for blood tests. I told the doctor that they had pains under her ears and he/she said “It is impossible to have effects of radiation in Tokyo. No Way. It is because of uneven tooth and bones of their chins, so you go to oral surgery. You shouldn’t become nervous, because you would give negative effect on psychological status of the children.” I was lost in words because I had always trusted them.

But I feel that there are hardly anyone who has so many symptoms like me. At school which my second and the youngest daughters go to, there was some prevalence of mycoplasma but otherwise nothing much. My eldest daughter goes to a school in Katushika ward (highly contaminated areas of Tokyo), but nobody cares, life is surprisingly normal there. It is only my analysis but I think all this may be due to our directly travelling with the radioactive plume in the morning on 15 March.

I heard that in Chernobyl, areas that were 300-400km away from the reactor suffered more than areas that were 200km away. I think we might have been exposed a lot more than those people who spent their day normally on 15 March.

Source: http://bilininfojp.blogspot.com/2011/12/whole-family-from-tokyo-getting-sick.html


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