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May 14, 2020



It sounds like your daughter and my niece may have gone through the same ordeal at roughly the same time and place.

My 23-year-old niece had Kawasaki when she was 3 or 4 in Santa Barbara. I was not there; I'll have to check with my sister for more details. But one thing I do remember is my sister telling me about an episode in the hospital: the doctors had my niece on some medication which they decided to stop or change; the nurse, on coming in to chuck the remainder of the original in the trash, said something like "Well, there goes $10K". Could have been IVIG, I suppose, or maybe the replacement was.

I know it took a day or two for the docs to decide it was Kawasaki. And I know they said the main concern once the crisis passed was the possibility of heart disease in the future.

So far, my niece has had no heart issues. She was a strenuous dancer (ballet and hip-hop) through high school and college, rising to captain of the BU Dance Team (NCAA champions; there's an actual tournament in Florida every year) and thus the most physically fit relative I have.

I can't help adding: my brother-in-law was a young Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at UCSB at the time, with presumably excellent health insurance, for I don't remember the cost of my niece's treatment having been an issue.

May your daughter and my niece both live long and prosper,


May all daughters, and sons, be healthy and live long lives.

And provided gold-plated healthcare.

Thanks for such a detailed account, lj.

It's not the same thing, but a story of dealing with the health care system in relation to a mysterious illness reminds me of some of the ins and outs of my mother's ailments and treatments over these last few months -- lots of confusion, utterly fragmented strands of care, non-optimum dealings (on the part of generally kind and well-intentioned providers) with someone who was almost completely blind, deaf (tho with hearing aids), and getting increasingly unable to process information. The system is a nightmare. (These impressions are mostly from my sister, who had the most direct involvement and is a retired medical professional herself.)

I'm also reminded of the long-term challenges faced by someone I know with chronic pain issues. This is an excellent book about dealing with some of these challenges when faced with your own health care decisions, but it's hard to put the recommendations into practice without the help of a very strong advocate who isn't addled with pain/sickness at the moment. (As I know from direct experience.)

Glad to know your daughter, and TP's niece, went onward with no long-term consequences.

Tony, curious (if you don't mind) but any Japanese or Korean ancestry for your niece?

Janie, I cut out a big chunk of writing about dealing with the health insurance, though that experience has me pretty cynical about how the US handles health care.

lj, I'm glad you left the health insurance side of it out of this one. The health care system is complicated enough--partly because of the insurance system, of course, though not entirely--and an interesting/rich enough topic in its own right.

Anyhow, if you'd made it about insurance too, you could hardly get away with saying "no politics in this thread." ;-)

I don't know how many times during this past half-year with my mom's situation I found myself saying, "I don't know what people do who don't have a Vicky in their family" (stipulating that my sister's name isn't really Vicky).

She could talk on an equal footing with the people treating my mom, she's knowledgeable, competent, smart, practical, and able to hold her own and insist on stuff she thinks is important. And all those qualities were needed, like when records didn't get where they were going and tests were about to be repeated needlessly, specialists weren't talking to each other, there was a different hospitalist from the one two weeks before, decisions had to be made that my mom wasn't really mentally competent to make, and so on.

I'm trying to think about how all that is being affected by the COVID-19 crisis, but the mind quails.



Well, I can vouch for 3 generations back; her grandparents could vouch for 3-4 generations before that; and it's extremely unlikely for umpteen generations before that, because Alexander the Great's army only made it as far as Afghanistan.

But Greeks have been sailors since before they were Greek and it's not absolutely impossible that one of her remote ancestors, serving on some Ottoman or Byzantine ship perhaps, had commerce with some Japanese or Korean woman in some exotic port. It would take a pretty far-fetched scenario on top of that to introduce Japanese or Korean "blood" into my niece's lineage.

On the other hand, I would have thought it far-fetched, when I was in Tokyo in 1987, to have to choose between two Greek restaurants for a night out with my Japanese friends. The place we chose, which was so "authentically" Greek that it had boxes of plates specifically for smashing stacked up in the back corner, turned out to belong to a Japanese retired merchant mariner who had fallen in love with Greek culture on his travels.

Also, having recently watched a 1962 Greek movie that included a fleeting scene in a Japanese restaurant in Athens, I can imagine that Greeks and Japanese have not been as entirely isolated from each other as one might think.

Still, despite these musings, I can say with high confidence that my niece has no claim to Japanese or Korean heritage in any ordinary sense.


Unexpected Asians tucked away in a European ancestry is far less likely than the odd European hidden in a Japanese family tree. Which would likely only surface when a mixed marriage (probably in the US) turned up some kids with blue eyes. That's when you realize that, pre-Sakoku (say early 1600s) some Scandinavian sailor on shore leave in Nagasaki....

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