Sunday, 19 February 2017

I want?


Okaasan peered across the table and into my bowl of ramen with slices of pork.
"I don't have that? Why? Those pork slices?"

"You want to eat it? Usually you don't eat pork meat. So we didn't put any in your bowl, you have many vegetables...but here, here you are, you have one of these slices!"

The three of us settled down - in uncommon family style for a winter home lunch together - and slurped noodles in silence.

A few minutes of slurping.

"Dear Son! Here, I don't want this! You have it!"

She had picked up the pork slice in her chopsticks and was waving it across the table him. We choked and gulped our laughter.....oh ho ho ho HO!

And I reclaimed my missing pork slice.

Just so funny. The instant of "want", and then once possessing the thing: "why do I have this? I don't want it". 
Childlike. Really. We've all seen kids shout and scream for something they want, only to cast it aside once the possession is completed.

So funny.

A quietish week or two for me with Okaasan care, because Dear Son was home more from skiing and took over the house duties. Gave me time to focus on work and going to the gym, and preparing to be a volunteer at the Sapporo Asia Winter Games.

Day Service came twice a week and Okaasan went out with them. She also went out with Dear Son a few times. Fussed around in her room a little. No major drama.
I think she is sitting more and more in front of the TV shopping channel and not opening her room curtains. Sitting in the half light, peering at the TV.
I go in and open curtains, change the TV channel, remove the food packages and the empty cans of sweet sake. ANYTHING we leave on the kitchen table she eats. The whole mantra of "I don't eat before 11 am. Eating too much is bad for you" is an alternative reality. Trump style....

THis coming week I will be a volunteer at the HQ hotel of the Asian Winter Games. Probably escorting VIPS to their cars and standing in the cold making sure taxi drivers are waiting at the right pick up point. Wasn't quite what I thought i'd be doing - I'd prepped a lot about helping foreign visitors  with shopping and dining information. But anyway. Helping somehow in the Asian version of the Olympics.


Friday, 3 February 2017

In control. Maybe.

Getting better. I guess - because I haven't run to the toilet for a few days now. But all is not 100% inside....if you know what I mean.

BEST event this week was that Dear Son came home for 3 nights and took over the cooking duties. I felt so much more relaxed, just knowing that another human being was at home taking care of stuff.

A registered letter addressed to Dear Son arrived from a real estate agent in Okaasan's home town - a valuation of the land  and house - and she just took it from the front door and left it on the kitchen table. But I wonder. She must have seen what kind of company it was from and where it was from. Did it not set off any questions in her mind?

I know he is busy at the moment and his time off is busy too, but I think he is skating on thin truth-ice with this topic. Better to tell her about Older Brother and get on with sorting out the house with Okaasan's knowledge (patchy) and consent (probably also patchy).

Anyway. Hope it doesn't blow up on MY watch.....

Onwards into February.

Sapporo Snow Festival starts next week and then in 3 weeks time i'm gonna be a volunteer at the Asian Winter Games, nicely situated at the information counter in the biggest, oldest hotel in town. Near a Starbucks.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Let's hospital.....

Okaaasan and me went to hospital. Oh yes indeedy.
A wonderful weekend of togetherness.

All started Saturday morning. In the toilet.
I'd had a party with students Friday night...eaten and drunk too much. Had an upset stomach. 
Thought that was it. Planned to spend the day quietly anyway with a Downton Abbey Season 3 and 4 DVD catchup. Felt a bit hungover.

Saturday passed. So so feeling. Quiet. Bit tired.
Lunch and dinner with Okaasan. 

Saturday night...Sunday morning.

Toilet hell. 
Both ends for me. Diarrhea and vomiting.

And the missing toiletmat told me Okaasan was having diarrhea too.

Sunday dawn I was in her room - weakly - checking for soiled towels and pajamas.

A kind friend whose husband has just spent a week in quarantine in the guest room with a stomach virus etc was advising me via Facebook thru the night and so I bagged up my and Okaasan's soiled clothes and two toilet mats and started the search for a hospital open on a Sunday.

I mailed Dear Son at the ski lodge. Told him that I was definitely going to get medicine. He agreed I should try to take Okaasan too. I'm 56 and can probably fight off a virus. She is 86.

I dreaded it. Really didn't have the energy to fight it out with her. Hospitals no no no...doctors no no....medicine....no no! I decided  to try and gently trick her into it. And if she fought me on it not to waste my dwindling energy on her.

She seemed fine. Of course didn't remember anything about her diarrhea. Even when I showed her the mat and pajamas covered with.....

At 10.15 am I entered her room and brightly suggested: "Let's go out! Nice weather today" She willingly scrambled up and started getting ready for "out". Hoping shopping and food. 

Instead we drove to a local hospital.
As we entered the parking area I made an excuse: "Oh, I was a bit sick last night, I need to get some medicine here, yes...yes...come in with me...waiting in the car is cold..."

And she came with me. No fight.

A full waiting room of zombies. Sweaty, dull, exhausted people. Influenza and stomach virus is everywhere here now. We registered and sat watching TV for an hour or more.
I had a temperature of  37. 4. Okaasan was 36.

Finally saw a breezy, cheerful doctor who managed to process us both within 4 minutes.

"Ichoen". Stomach virus. Not Noro Virus. Not food poisoning. Not infectious, unless you cough on people or share a dirty toilet seat.....and then eat food with your hands....

He questioned Okaasan, who agreed with the last thing suggested to her - without really knowing what was what.
"How many times did you have diarrhea? 4 or 5 times...?"
"5 times? yes, maybe..."

I was worse than her. Luckily. About to fall off the hospital chair actually.
They put me on a IV drip for 40 minutes.



OKaasan sat in the waiting room with all the sick people. She looked tired. She needed lunch. I needed my sofa and a blanket. But I couldn't think of easy food at home to give her, and I felt sorry that her trip out in the car was this tiring,. negative experience.

So, after we got our medicines I took her to lunch. Let her order what she liked. I ordered the smallest thing on the menu for me. And ate about 25%.

She was happy! Not a care in Okaasan's world!


THAT is all her lunch set. And still many Japanese people say - "Oh Americans/foreigners eat so much! The meals are too big"
Look at all of that. Soba noodles, 4 pieces of sushi, tempura and egg custard.

Made me feel ill just looking at it. But I managed to take away half the sushi and all of the tempura while she was looking at fallen bits of noodles on her lap. She didn't notice at all. Didn't notice the big space on the tray. Short term memory loss has its uses. The waitress looked surprised - specially as the sushi was hiding on the seat next to me. But I managed to make excuses and get it taken away.

And then. Medicine time!
"Okaasan, time for our medicine! Yes. You and me. The doctor said. Here you are. Yes. You should take this. You and I had bad diarrhea last night. very bad. Yes. We need medicine. I don't want to clear up the toilet again  this afternoon. Yes. Medicine. Here is the water. Here. Yes...here"

And. 
She took three pills.

Even exhausted. I was elated.
Mission accomplished.

Got her home. Got me to the sofa. Slept for 3 hours.
Went for a hair cut and gentle chat with my kind, sweet hairdresser at 5 pm.
Gave Okaasan small dinner and MORE medicine.
Ate half a piece of toast and dosed myself.

Slept for 10 hours.

Now? I still have diarrhea. Yesterday 70% energy. But I did classes and a magazine interview about Hokkaido tourism.
Okaasan seems fine. No diarrhea I think. My Friday night part students said in Monday class that they were all fine - it wasn't food poisoning from the hotel party food.

I'm still operating at 80%. And very careful what I eat and drink.

But. The GREAT takeaway from this is that I CAN manage Okaasan and a medical situation. I can trick her gently into coming to a hospital with me. And even into taking medicine.
That is a win-win.

Excuse me. The toilet is calling.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Don't let it be me

Don't let it be me to tell her...that her eldest son died.

Please. Not me. Too much to do.

I'm living a bit on nerves about this, because now letters are coming to the house that the post office are redirecting from the family home - letters with eldest son's name on them. Nothing personal, letters from utility companies mainly as they close down accounts.

Okaasan doesn't see the mail every day. She usually only goes into the entrance hall when the lunch box delivery comes. And the mail usually comes later. But still. I am nervous.

Dear Son came back last week from the funeral and house clearing. Came back with things he can use etc Things he wants to keep.
A house clearing company will go in this coming week and sort through, clear out the rest. It will cost about $10,000!!! Ten thousand dollars!!!!

And if he decides to sell the land and wants to demolish the house..that would be another $8,000 plus. 

He says he would investigate future use of the land. If he needs Okaasan's involvement in anything he would retrospectively tell her Older Brother died. "Well, he died, didn't he, last year...so we have to do something with the house".....she didn't remember the fact when twop of her brothers died...so a false-but-you-knew-this-didn't-you maybe a gentler way of giving her the information.

I'm hoping that will be the way. Not her standing in the kitchen holding a letter she's just found asking ME "Why is OLder Son's post coming to this house!!! Why???"  He is back skiing again, and home on and off until the end of February.

Dear Useless Brother - his death has softened me - is with us. With me. In the living room is a black framed photograph of him from the funeral, and a wooden stand with a paper attached. On the paper is his after-death name. Not sure how long DS will want to have that in the living room.

Meanwhile Okaasan potters on in life. TV and mealtimes. Day service trips to the supermarket. Lunches and dinners with me. Eating anything she can find.