Monday, 18 July 2016

Focusing on love

A thing of beauty.
Isn't that lovely?
In my garden, this morning.

The world seems pretty stressful at the moment. I'm a news junky (daughter of a newspaper photographer), but I feel myself turning away from the news at the moment and focusing on small, near, good things, people, cats.

So.
It's a holiday weekend in Japan. Sea Day? A 3-day holiday in early summer. I should be out there - kayaking or hiking. But I'm here, at home. Looking after an injured cat. Again.



This happened to Popo, and we don't know why. A simple trip to the vets to check out a limp and a slightly swollen back foot turned into our latest cat crisis as the vet found a broken bone in the foot and a cut about 1 cm from Popo's anus. Yes. That too.
He had an operation to put a pin in the leg and came home again with a cast on his leg, all wrapped up in protective padding. And we are in full-nursing mode with rearranged furniture, rearranged work/sleep/toilet/eat schedules and one of us always on hand to make sure he doesn't jump on and off things.
Hell of a few days here. This is Day 3 and we are in holding mode.
Popo himself is fine. eating and loving all the attention. Even taking easily to walking outside on a harness and lead. So well,  he tried to chase a bird at 3 am - me in pursuit on the end of the lead in my nightdress in the garden...


So. Cat nursing on a public holiday.

Okaasan? She is as usual. Going for her daily walks pretty well. Construction has started on the land across the street, so it's been noisy. But she has endured. Had a bath. Had her toe nails cut by dear darling daughter-in-law-not. Had a hair wash from dear son. Food. A bit of chat.

Dear Son decided NOT to tell his mother that the doctor thinks she has a heart problem. And I agree. Nothing would be served by more checks, medicines, treatments, worry. She is 85 years old and gets up and down off the carpet very well. She goes for a walk for one or two hours every day. She climbs stairs. We will leave her to enjoy all of that.

Next month is her birthday. She is doing well.

Other news?

Amid the unfolding cat crises I got my concert tickets for September in Tokyo: Queen and Adam Lambert. It seems real once I see the tickets. Online auctions are going crazy with ticket prices, I am so glad my friends and I got ours in the first round of pre-sales.

Holiday in America in September - I applied for my US electronic visa. A strange, stressed time to visit America. I've been 4? times before and so many wonderful American friends, I can't believe the painful things that are happening there now. I hope a week with good friends in beautiful Oregon will be a peaceful holiday.

TV work audition - recently I auditioned for work on an NHK World TV program. I didn't get the main job, but the friend I introduced DID get it. It's broadcast tonight, and then available online. Here is the program website. Meanwhile I had a Skype interview with the producer, to maybe contribute ideas or onscreen comments in a future show. I love Hokkaido and happy to do anything to share its charms :-)

And that's it. Focusing on my cat at the moment. If Okaasan goes for a walk later today I may go in and clean her room. Or, I may just cuddle my poor little furball and wonder who or what injured him.




Thursday, 7 July 2016

Family Health Checks

The family that eat and drink together....go to health checks together too!

This afternoon the 3 of us went to the local hospital for a public health check up. He and I made sure of course that we ate healthily for the past few days...since the BBQ blow out....and at 12.30 we joining the quiet little group of people in a screened off area of the hospital. Given our Health Questionnaires to fill out and a little paper cup for a urine sample.

The nurses quickly cottoned on that we should be moved round the checks as a family unit - because the man needed to help the foreigner with the kanji on the questionnaire, and both younger people had to help the old lady with every step along the way.

We had chest echo scans, and measurements, blood test etc

And those little cups for urine.....

I went into the toilets with Okaasan. I held her bag and jacket and sent her into the cubical with the cup.....stood outside making reassuring sounds.....and waving silently to some of the hospital staff who are my students in the staff classes who were just finishing their lunchbreak.

She couldn't pee.
Or she DID pee and forgot to put the cup in place?
I gave her the remainder of my bottle of water..
No go.

Whatever. Couldn't.
Then a nurse tried. Went into the cubical with Okaasan and made reassuring noises. I hovered, listening.

No go. Okaasan, who goes from toilet place to toilet place - with many an accident in between - when NEEDING to produce pee. Couldn't :-)

So, the nurse told us to go off to lunch and come back and try again.
We ordered bowls of noodles with lots of soup. Drank tea etc.

45 mins later I rushed back to the nurse to get the cup with Okaasan's name etc. Back into the toilets.
Back right into the toilet stall with her, actually.

I've crossed so many privacy lines in my relationship with Okaasan. Crouching down on the toilet floor, holding a paper cup between her legs - well......can't get more personal than that! All the while, chatting about wartime food and the heat....

No go.

I'd find it hard to pee in front of someone. So finally I left the cubical and stood guard at the door. Finally! Success!!!

Okaasan looked tired and stressed by it all. Poor thing.

Finally the three of us were brought into the doctor's room to hear the initial results of all the tests. Blood work results come next week.

Okaasan has some heart problem. Maybe before she had  stroke or a small heart attack? Something? Nothing that DS can remember.
Mind you - this family is not very open with eachother, I think she may have had problems years ago - and never told her sons. I definitely remember about 10 years ago that she told DS AFTER the event: "Oh I was in hospital last week, that's why I didn't answer the phone"...

The doctor said he would recommend a further check at a local clinic. No problems today....

DS and I? No problems. The eating and drinking can continue. Yay!

Did Okaasan understand? Will she be worried? Will she care? Will DS care? Will he actually get his mum checked out further? I wonder.....she IS 85 years old. She probably wouldn't take medicine. Certainly wouldn't have an operation.
She is very physically healthy for 85 years old.

Like the awful Brexit vote in the UK, this result may go nowhere.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

BBQ Day plan

Another year - another massive BBQ party in our garden and the ...err...appropriated open space over the fence...

Okaasan's major stress day.

This year plan: on BBQ day - make an appointment for her at the hair salon for a cut and perm. Then hope she goes from the salon door, across the road and onto the subway and downtown for a walk and coffee - before coming home late afternoon. Leaving only an hour or two of her being in the house while drunken merriment happens within earshot.

A bit of a hassle for me to give her lunch and take her to the salon just as the party is getting underway. But worth it to get Okaasan away from the house for her own relaxing time.

In the past she has got very stressed and angry at us and our guests. Escaping thru the window, going out and staying out until late - watching the house from afar and complaining about it all.

So. This year.

She can't have failed to notice the growing mountain of BBQ stuff in the hall and kitchen.
On Sunday morning I gave her a schedule paper:

11.30   Lunch
12.45   Go by car to the hair salon
1 pm    Hair appointment.

I gave it to her about 10 am.....and reminded her (although this was actually the first time she knew about it), that she had a hair appointment at 1 pm. This is the plan..

She kept putting the note in her handbag though.
So over the next hour she was endlessly confused. Came and asked me about it. I'd go into her room and find the note again - show her.
BIG discussion about "where is the salon?"...with her mixing up station names and locations.
Hopeless. She has never gone on her own to this salon. I always take her by car.

Served lunch at 11.30, while I cut up a mango plantation for fruit salad.
Guests started arriving and DS was firing up the BBQ outside. Beer and laughter.

Inside Okaasan was dressed. And picking up and putting down many of the clothes she has all over her room.
Came and said to me endlessly:"I can go by myself by subway...where is the salon?"

I tried to deflect that plan. But she was getting tense...and trying to leave at 12 o'clock.....tried telling her to wait...failed....she could hear the party and wanted to leave.

So I went with her. While she was fussing with shoes I put the car across the entrance area...and as she came out of the house bowing nervously to people I steered her into the car...as we drove to the salon she kept saying " I can get out here..." but I drove on...to the salon doors for 12.30 pm. 

Half an hour early. I work for myself and if students come early they may find me stuffing a sandwich in my face, or vacuming. Probably the former. I wondered if we'd cut into the hair stylist's lunchtime.
But he was friendly about it and let Okaasan in....so I could escape to the party and join the fun.

Massive BBQ......................



Those are the polite pictures. Lawyers will be in contact if I post any others...


Late afternoon I checked the GPS. YAY!! Okaasan was downtown.

About 5 pm I saw she was back at our local station..I walked down and met her...carrying a cup of coffee from the 7-11 and clutching her bag. Great new hair do. Looked much better.

I walked home with her chatting, and carrying the coffee.

Guided her thru the pile of drunks outside the front door (nothing sobers you up more than having the care of an elderly in mind) and installed her back in her room with the TV set loud.

Fed her at 7 pm with a simple food box. One guest managed to ignore the "Don't enter the kitchen" sign and get in and chat to her for few minutes...but basically she could escape it all.

And interesting. This year she didn't get angry. Didn't whinge at us. 
Instead, she sat on her sofa with the Tv blaring...looking a bit tense. Glancing at the window a bit. But not the pacing of past. Happily ate dinner at 7 pm and retired to the Tv again while we sat out in mosquito heaven with the last of the guests.

BBQ success.
For us
And Okaasan.
We are learning.....?


Thursday, 30 June 2016

The business of eating

Eating is maybe become more of a mental challenge for Okaasan.

Not the actual physical act of food in mouth, chew and swallow. No , she still does that very well. Positively stuffs it all down. Huge bowls of ramen and soup curry, mounds of snacks. Huge appetite. We are always amazed at how much she can eat (of course while saying "overeating is bad for you, I once survived 6 months on a glass of water every second Tuesday).

No. What she is finding harder is the business of getting the food from plate to mouth.
She has always dropped a lot of food. And that has really increased this summer. It makes her mealtimes very long, because then her focus switches from the plate to the food on the floor, or her clothes. She is reaching for tissue paper and scrubbing away at stains.
Usually discovering old stains on her clothes and getting sidetracked into scrubbing away at THOSE too with tissue paper. We sometimes have to remind her to come back to the food on the plate :-)

She has never been very communicative while eating. Now that is a total wall of silence. Even if we talk to her directly, she kind of starts and looks up - almost surprised to find us across the table from her.

GREAT concentration on the chopsticks, the bowls and plates. The water glass. The beer glass (if she is lucky!). The tissue.
Japanese people, of course, use chopsticks without thinking. But I notice now Okaasan often looks at her chopsticks, and repositions them in her hand. Sets herself ready for eating, again...and again.
She picks up plates/bowls carefully. Sets them down just so. Brings great focus to every act of eating.

But dropping a lot.

It is probably too early still for a spoon, or some kind of assisted chopstick design. She would think that was strange. But the process of the implements is harder for her.

And. here we go again.
BBQ time approaching.
Okaasan's dreaded day, when the garden is full of people and noise.
I've booked her a hair appointment for 1 pm, so I can feed her lunch and then take her away from the house as the BBQ gets going. Hopefully from the hair salon she will go to the nearest subway entrance and a train will take her downtown for a walk. So she should be away from the house for at least 4 hours....

But I will have to juggle BBQ hosting with Okaasan's needs. Such is life....onwards!

Roses....roses...roses....my garden is FULL of roses!!