Saturday, 4 July 2015

It's BBQ time again :-) :-(

That time of year folks - when the house is full of rude, nasty people who out-stay their welcome and make a noise and disturb the peace.
Our friends. Our BBQ.
Okaasan hates it.

But before we get to THAT - tomorrow.

Just finished the book Still Alice. Liked it a lot. You know when you can't wait for work and stuff to finish, so you can get back to reading? That feeling.
I loved the attention to detail of every day life and how from Alice's perspective she was doing fine - and then a small comment showed us, the readers, that she probably wasn't.
Better than the film - more details. More depth of character.
But still a bit preachy. Got a message to impart in this book and YOU WILL READ IT!

But - again - it made me stop and think: how does Okaasan view her world. How does she feel day to day about herself.  We should help her do things to make a her day easier. To make her feel unstressed. I'm sure she knows all is not well in her mind - but she covers it all well and allows us (mostly) to help cover the holes.
Good book. I recommend it.

So. BBQ tomorrow.
We went off early today and bought everything in Costco. Everything  for our party - but it felt a bit like "everything in Costco". An obscene amount of money. But somehow about 35 people have said:"Oh BBQ? Oh yes! Can I bring friends too?".
Maybe the weather has been so bad that people are keen to get out and start doing summer things.

So. We got home from a massive shopathon about middday. DS said he's unload the car, I went in to get lunch cooked and on the table.
First thing I noticed was Okaasan's slippers in the middle of the bathroom floor. Between the washing machine and the sink.
She was in her room watching TV...

I went and picked them up.
The slippers, the floor, the carpet tiles, the mat, the washing machine, the cabinet....
Swilling in water!!!

What on earth had she done?

Grabbed lots of towels, papers etc etc to mop up.

Okaasan came worriedly to the kitchen. Professed to know nothing about it all. 
"I didn't do anything wrong, did I?"

Well, she'd obviously done something. A pair of wet pajamas were on the sink and there was water in every direction :-))

But, newly fortified with understanding from the Still Alice book, I remained all upbeat and reassuring: "No! NO! You didn't do anything! Maybe it's the silly old washing machine! Must be that, no problem! Only water!" Chirp. Chirp.
Dear Son and I peered around the bathroom at pipes and connections trying to work out what had happened. We couldn't find anything wrong. The machine still works. Did she use the sink extension cord and panic with the spray pressure? Did she fill the sink and leave the water running?

have no idea. But now the bathroom floor is cleaner than it's been in years! That's good.

Okaasan fussed around. We all sat down to lunch. She was quite stressed. We were all chirpy and happy.


The hall is towering high with boxes of food and BBQ sets, beer cases and charcoal.

BBQ 2015 here we come.
Okaasan is NOT going to have a good weekend.
We'll do our best to make her calm, and try to enjoy our one big party of the year with friends.
Altogether: we'll try.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Still Alice

Got to see Still Alice at the weekend, and watched it with a double purpose:

Although it is the story of a middle aged Alzheimer's sufferer, and the smart life linguistics professor heroine is nothing like Okaasan, I could of course identify with many of the situations and emotions.

And I watched it with me in mind - me and my recent memory lapses.
MY life is far from the smart, linguistics professor too - a lowly English teacher in Japan isn't the beautiful life of a Hollywood movie where people have gorgeous kitchens and stylish bedrooms.

I enjoyed the film. Of course.
Jullianne Moore is excellent. She is catching Meryl Streep up with these kind of roles.

On the whole: I felt the film (and I guess the book too) does justice to dementia sufferers and their families.
I liked the variation in condition, from moment to moment: a woman who is somehow able to put together a family lunch then greets a guest twice; the woman who thinks her daughter must be sick in a hospital room is able to snap at family members a few moments later: "I do still know how to hold a baby, you know".

And I liked the self-preservation acts - the note making, the double checking as Alice is determined to keep track of her thoughts.

On the downside: I felt the film focused too much on memory loss, and less on diminishing abilities (making cups of tea/using a home appliance), and didn't dwell too much either on lack of personal care. Alice went from carefully groomed to ragged, without comment.

But: everyone's dementia is different. Everyone is different.

Okaasan has long been good at covering her dementia tracks, or papering the cracks. She writes a lot of notes to herself about TV programs, shopping, food. She sticks to familiar places and routines, so that life is safe. She is good at answering questions with vagueness, or agreeing with what is said - whether it is true or not.

And me? What did I feel about the movies and the descent into dementia? Am I there yet?
Well, warning signs I guess. I'm an educated person with a love of words and communication. I pack a lot into every day. Multi-task too much.
There ARE bound to be gaps.

I often mix up words for things miso/maple syrup; butter/bacon.
I often can't think of the name of something - is that cos my brain is split over two languages?
I forget appointments.
I leave on an iron all day.
I went to remind someone they hadn't paid me some money...and they told me they'd paid it 3 weeks ago.
I wander the house looking for my glasses/the car keys/a friend's address on a piece of paper.


In the scenes in the movie when Alice is given the recall a name and address test. I was failing along with her.

I'm functioning in my world. But I am taking precautions to check for cracks.

Got to get ONE family member gently into their last years with careful help before we start on the next generation!

I've now bought the book Still Alice, will see what I think of that. Onwards.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Is it????

Am I losing it...????

THREE times in the past 3 weeks I have mixed up/forgotten a class time/day.
And I left the iron on in the house - centimeters away from an inflammable material notice board - for a whole day.

These things make you wonder. Make me wonder. 
Are these just slips of the mind, or the start of something more.
Ironically, because one of the films I want to see this month is "Still Alice", with Julianne Moore as a linguistics professor who develops Alzheimer's.

So. The classes. I can explain the mix up on each one. I think.

1) A student who comes very intermittently. She cancels due to work reasons a lot, and if I don't have the following week class written in the diary....I suddenly saw a phone message from her that she was waiting at the classroom door at 8 pm....while I was at home.
2) A student who was coming at 11 am. The class before finished at 10.45 am - and I went off to the gardening center to get flowers for the classroom planters: thinking "Oh it is still 10 am....I have an hour until she comes...". She arrived 5 minutes after I'd driven away.
2) A student who made his class time reservation in a Facebook message - usually he comes Thursday...this week it was Tuesday...and again...a phone message while I was finishing family dinner alerted me to that.

Aghh......I feel bad. My students are forgiving. Nice people.

But it isn't good.

I am double checking everything now.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Have reached a new level of care: cutting Okaasan's toe nails for her :-)

And oh MY!!! It is hard! and scary! Usually you see your toes from above. Doing it the other way round....scary.

But she let me do it. And chatted away about best time to do/not having clippers/forgetting/bath time etc etc etc.

Pretty long. Probably painful to walk in with socks and shoes.

After bath time...even if we give her the clippers her attention goes to the TV or she is busy drying her hair, or she just closes up the case of clippers and puts it to one side on the table. And another week will go by with uncut toe nails.
So I put on my best friendly/determined/brightly engaging carer's voice and offered to help her. Got her on the carpet with a foot on a box...and set to work.

Hope she feels better after that.
In fact Okaasan has been going out regularly: walking late afternoon. A few, very short trips alone downtown on the subway. Coming home ok. Summer is her good time.

And...for me....



Long time readers will know that 6 years ago I damaged my knee cartilage. Ended up with painful injections, various supplements and treatments. Couldn't walk round the supermarket at one point. Had to use wheelchair assistance at airports.

Gradually leveled up to a walk in the park, and shopping downtown. And skiing, and biking.

But climbing the local hill above the city was too far. It was always my goal: "maybe this year".

Yesterday I suddenly decided to try. Half-way.
At the halfway point I got motivated by all the people around me and went on to the very very top. Took my 90 minutes, not the 45 mins I once could do. But I feel so so so happy that I could do it!

Came home and iced the knee twice.

Best thing: this morning? No real pain! Slightly swollen. But no pain.

BIG achievement. BIG.