Monday, 22 March 2010

A Year of Living...dangerously

We moved to this house a year ago - living all together in the same crazy mix.

So, it's the long weekend holiday and I actually had almost 3 days off. Yujiro was home some of the time thanks to bad weather stopping all the ski lifts and we did stuff together around the house. I also managed unheard of luxuries (for me in the past injured year anyway) of getting downtown twice alone to have lunch in a nice Italian restaurant, go to the woodchip sauna twice AND - GET THIS - DRIFT AROUND THE SHOPS AND BUY CLOTHES!
Just being able to walk where I choose, alone and with free time. Such a luxury.
Mind you, I did sit in the sauna salon lounge and reread Contented Dementia. I thought it was  a good idea because now I know Okaasan so much better.

As the book advised I actually wrote down in first person narrative all her hamster-wheel stories - wartime/Kawagoe/food shortages/warwork/father/crabs/picking vegetables etc etc. I could easily write 9 of them because now I know these stories well.
I think Yujiro and I are better at getting her onto these stories and letting her rabbit on and on. Although if she joins a conversation with a slightly off-topic piece of information Yujiro is still liable to say:"but we're not talking about THAT!" which isn't what the dementia book advises. If the client joins in, let them talk - even if it isn't so connected.Let them take the stage with their familiar topic.
The book also refers to the constant, repeated question that the client is asking. But I don't think Okaasan really has one. "What day is it?", "What time is it?", "Where's Yujiro?" aside.

All seemed well with Okaasan. We shared some meals with her and chatted her along on stuff. My coat and the buttons seem to have vanished, she said to Yujiro that she'd been to the sewing shop but forgotten to get the thread and was going back.
It's a bit tricky this one - how to gently remind her, without seeming to hassle. I really don't mind how long the button sewing takes - I have another coat. But what was designed to be a pleasant thing for Okaasan to do - seems to have thrown up all sorts of problems and I don't want her to start having negative feelings about me/the coat/the sewing.
I did wonder if I should go and buy the button thread and give it to her...or would that be giving her feelings of inability?

Yujiro went off skiing this morning.
I started Okaasan's bath. Reminded her about hula dancing. Reminded her about the bath. Gently kept her on preparation schedule. Served a light 11.30 am meal for her. Encouraged her out of the door.
45 mins later Yujiro telephoned to say that there was NO hula class today! National holiday etc. Okaasan had gone to the department store culture school. No class. She'd called him....(bet THAT felt good for the super-cool ski instructor to have his mum on the phone about hula dancing!!)
It's a real bummer after all Okaasan's confusion in the past week about the class schedule. Couldn't come at a worse time. Strange cos usually this class meets even on numerous Japanese public holidays.

But not today.
So poor Okaasan had got all gussied up for nothing. A negative experience connected with the thing she loves doing.

I came home about 6 pm from shopping. Okaasan was fast asleep under the heated table in her room.
I made dinner, called her several times. Stood in the door of her room. But she slept and slept.
Finally I sat down and ate dinner alone at the kitchen table and hoped the smells and sounds would rouse her. They didn't.

Yujiro called to say: don't worry, probably she ate out. Probably she's tired. It's my fault, I should have checked.
Of course somewhere there is a class schedule, and  I'm sure the teacher made an announcement last week. But that's no use to a lady with dementia....
Yujiro should GET the schedule and put it up on the kitchen noticeboard.

So there we are. Nice day. Followed by disappointment. I tried to have some kind of relaxing evening and get ready for classes tomorrow.

And so Year 2 of Living Dangerously starts....


  1. Sounds like you got some nice weekend time alone. Italian lunch, shopping, saunas - jealous! Good luck with okaasan. Hope she gets to hula next Monday :)

  2. Yes, the feeling of freedom at the moment is wonderful - finally I can GO downtown alone and WALK around...after months and months of being limited to the car/being driven/walking painfully a few yards....
    The woodchip sauna is my new addiction. Good for the skin, good for the stress, good for the knee...all GOOD!

    I know it's hard with 3 small kids, but I wish you too could get out of the house and do something you really enjoy just sometimes.
    ;-)) Coffee with Chiemi?