Ailene Voisin: Jim Nishio battled ALS with adore of family, friendship to sports

September 27, 2015 - als

Two nights after his death, a stage during Dr. James Nishio’s home was infrequently comforting in a familiarity. The Republican discuss raged on a 60-inch television. Piles of Mexican food and bottles of booze swarming a kitchen counter. One of his sons lay on a couch, recuperating from reconstructive knee surgery. His wife, Dr. Denyse Nishio, perused emails while friends and kin reminisced, during one indicate busting lax with an off-key delivery of an aged Linda Rondstadt classic.

But a chair was empty. For a past 3 years, Jim’s home inside his home – a wheelchair with straps and tubes and a robotic voice-assisted mechanism – was positioned pound in a center of a vital room. Now it complacent adult opposite a stairway, idle, no longer of use.

And isn’t this only like life? No one saw this coming. A mind tumor.

Jim Nishio, a distinguished vicious caring and pulmonary specialist, had battled ALS for roughly 9 years, distant surpassing a normal life expectancy. He succumbed instead to a hide attack, a tiny dual weeks after being diagnosed with a fast surpassing cancer.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” pronounced Dr. Greg Redmond, who was Jim’s primary caring medicine for some-more than 20 years. “To get ALS and afterwards to get mind cancer? Only about 10 percent of ALS patients tarry 10 years, yet there is no doubt in my mind that if Jim had not grown a tumor, he would have lived most longer than that. He was in a really fast duration a final few years.”

The scholarship per amyotrophic parallel sclerosis – ordinarily famous as Lou Gehrig’s illness – is a ongoing investigate in futility. Seventy-five years after Gehrig’s romantic farewell during Yankee Stadium, there is no famous cause. And no famous cure. An estimated 30,000 Americans humour from a illness that causes flesh weakness, stoppage and, ultimately, respiratory failure.

Awareness and appropriation have increasing with events sponsored by Major League Baseball and a Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2012. Thousands attend in a annual ALS Walks hold via a country. Since Jim’s diagnosis in 2006, dozens of relatives, colleagues, friends and caregivers have tugged on their “Wish for Nish” T-shirts and participated in a Sacramento eventuality that starts and ends during Raley Field. In his after years, Jim tooled along a track in his power-operated wheelchair, his desired ones using him around potholes and cracks in a sidewalk.

The Nishios will attend this year’s travel again en masse – subsequent Saturday, Oct. 3 – with quite complicated hearts. Still no cure. And now no Jim. Though he didn’t live enlarged adequate to advantage from any medical breakthrough, and mislaid several of his possess patients to ALS, his bequest is singly Californian, a tragedy, poser and adore story dense into 67 years.


Jim Nishio desired family, sports and politics, in that order. He was innate in Fresno to relatives who endured hardships during World War II. George Nishio, an optometrist, was sent to relocation camps in Arkansas and Tule Lake in 1942. Michiko, who after became a open propagandize administrator, changed with friends to a Midwest to equivocate internment.

After a war, a integrate married and staid in Chowchilla, where they lifted 6 children, among them an optometrist, plant physiologist, facile propagandize teacher, businessman and executive with a Franchise Tax Board. Jim, a eldest, was both a academician and a best contestant of a bunch, a inhuman aspirant and football, basketball and ball standout during Chowchilla High. A possibility assembly with Fresno minor-league pitcher Masanori Murakami, a Giants awaiting who would became a initial Japanese actor in Major League Baseball in 1964, caused him to switch devotion from boyhood statue Mickey Mantle to anyone wearing a Giants uniform.

“I was a large Yankees fan,” Jim confessed while attending ALS festivities during a Giants diversion in 2009, “but (laugh) of march we still adore Lou Gehrig.”

His one regret, he mostly said, was disappearing an offer to play centerfield during UC Davis so he could combine on his pre-med studies. But his office of sports and near-obsession with earthy aptness remained consistent companions as he warranted his medical grade during UCSF, finished his residency during a University of Michigan, and began practicing in Sacramento. Any gangling time was clinging to running, skiing, or pickup basketball and softball games. Shortly before his ALS diagnosis, he was transitioning into towering biking.

“He was such a good athlete,” pronounced his son Grant with a devious grin, “that nothing of us could kick him during anything. When we done The Bee’s all-city soccer group during Jesuit, we finally got a possibility to say, ‘Gotcha, Dad!’ But he was always my hero. He was a good father, good doctor. He was good during everything.”

Jim met his wife, a former Denyse Fox, while both were doing their residencies in Ann Arbor. They changed to Sacramento in 1980, where Denyse began practicing inner medicine during UC Davis and Jim became a partner in Pulmonary Medicine Associates. He also served as medical executive of Sutter General ICU and arch of staff during Methodist Hospital, and was a area’s initial approved nap commotion specialist.

“Jim’s passion was vicious caring medicine,” pronounced Dr. Alan Cubre, a partner during Pulmonary Medicine Associates and crony of a Nishios given Ann Arbor. “I don’t how he was means to do this, yet he was ICU executive during Sutter until 2004 and Methodist until 2006. It’s only really surprising to run dual ICUs during one time.”

Colleagues pronounced Jim began seeing symptoms around Dec 2006. “Jim approached one of a other partners, Tom Shragg, one day when he was incompetent to open a jar,” private Cubre. “He showed Tom his hand, and a muscles were twitching. He asked, ‘What do we consider that means?’ Tom told him, ‘You and we both know what that means.’

“It was really formidable because, as pulmonologists, we see patients with ALS, and we all know what was going to happen.”


Almost 4 years after a diagnosis, as his inventiveness run-down and he was no longer means to perform procedures, Jim late from his use yet was dynamic to sojourn active. The family took vacations to Europe, China, Alaska and Australia. And as Denyse likes to say, her father was a male for all seasons; if one of his favorite teams or any of his 4 adult children were personification soccer, ball or competing in gymnastics during college, she mostly packaged a medical apparatus into a outpost and off they drove.

Jim’s adore of sports was contagious, yet admittedly for Denyse, an acquired taste. The Wolverines’ quarrel strain was a family anthem. A Giants World Series ensign hung above a fireplace. At night, everybody collected in front of a large TV that mostly incited Jim’s wrath; while he still had use of his hands, he was famous to toss a sock during a shade when a Giants were removing beat, a Wolverines were outclassed or a Kings were losing to a Lakers.

A longtime Kings season-ticket hilt before his illness, he once asked if DeMarcus Cousins was a leader or not value a trouble. we urged patience. He smiled.

“I always dreaded entrance home and there weren’t any games on,” Denyse pronounced half-jokingly, “because that meant we had to watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’ or ‘Huell Howser’ replays. we mean, he (the late Howser) didn’t take we to Paris, London or Cairo. He took we to Joshua Tree or a Fresno State Fair. But that was Jim. He was a California boy.”

But distant from a one-dimensional man. Word games were a hobby, as were politics. Jim relished exhilarated debates, and even in his final weeks, emailed his pointy opinions. As a ALS progressed, he loving milestones that enclosed a college graduations of all his children; a matrimony of his oldest son, Grant, to Jennifer Avrin, who grew adult a few houses down a street; his daughter Lesley’s initial year of medical school; and a veteran accomplishments of his other sons, Garrett and Ross.

He showed Tom his hand, and a muscles were twitching. He asked, ‘What do we consider that means?’ Tom told him, ‘You and we both know what that means.’

Dr. Alan Cubre, Jim Nishio’s crony and former partner

In his final years, he compulsory a near-full-time assistance of dual health caregivers. Family members discreetly sliced food into little bits. His sister, Nancy Nishio Mah, arrived each Monday with home-cooked meals, eventually singular to a tiny choice of soups and broths. Denyse bought a sleep-number bed and spent each night during his side.

When attacked of his mobility, he practiced to life in a power-operated chair, his arms and neck fastened. When he mislaid his voice and compulsory a feeding tube, he mastered a speech-generating mechanism tranquil by his retina. When his respiration failed, he done a wrenching, life-extending preference to accept a ventilator.

“Some ALS patients who start unwell confirm they don’t wish to live,” pronounced Redmond, “yet here was someone who had patients on ventilators, who was a vicious caring specialist, who had a extensive will to live. While we can’t infer it scientifically, a adore and support of Denyse, his kids, and his siblings, can't be understated. That, and a fact he desired sports so most and took such good caring of himself enlarged his life. He had a ideal mind in a inept body.”

Until a mind cancer. In his final weeks, he became increasingly confused and visibly undone by a remarkable inability to communicate. When a growth was rescued in late August, he declined deviation treatments that competence have extended his life by a few months. Instead, he collected his desired ones and told them it was time to pierce on. He urged Lesley to lapse to medical propagandize and counseled a boys to tend to their careers. He thanked his siblings for their invariable support. He told Denyse he desired her. And afterwards that final night, after a ventilator was removed, Jim Nishio died sensitively and peacefully.

“He was ready,” pronounced Denyse, “and in a bizarre way, he was blissful that it wasn’t a ALS that kick him. He fought a good fight, fought longer than anyone expected.”

In a still impulse after a ventilator had been private and her father had passed, she forced a slight smile. There was a final story to share: Two days before Jim was rushed to a puncture room and a mind growth detected, several family members were roving to a Giants diversion when their SUV blew a tire only outward Dixon. While everybody waited for AAA to arrive, grumbling about blank a initial few innings, Jim was noticeably patient.

“It was a strangest thing,” Denyse said, softly. “The approach he was looking during a informed surroundings, during all a farmland, shower it all in. we only had this thought. we consternation if he’s thinking, ‘This is a final time I’m going to see this. And we adore this country.’ It was as if he knew.”

source ⦿ http://www.sacbee.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/ailene-voisin/article36498858.html

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