Friday, 3 December 2010

Two Years of Okaasan and Me.

We made it! This far!
Two years ago I was living the easy life with my Japanese guy and cat.
Skiing, walking, cheese fondues and non-responsible life.

And then it all changed.
We became responsible parents for his mother!

I know many people have joined this blog over the past 2 years, so here is the easy link to how it all started:

Today is the first Friday in December. Tokiko came for her lesson at my English classroom. Two years ago she came for her lesson  - and then came back with a present of sushi for me because I was heading home to make the first Family Dinner because Yujiro brought Okaasan up from Saitama to live with us here in Sapporo.

There have been many, many low points. But, generally...we HAVE made a good new life for ourselves and Okaasan. Her life is much better now than all alone in the trash and confusion of her house in Saitama. I think if she had stayed there alone, her dementia would have got much worse in 2 years. We have kept her - mainly - on positive life experiences.
Our life as a couple has changed a lot. We have to plan so much more and we have to share the responsibilities.
 And we eat a LOT of tofu.

Lowest point? Of course, December last year when Okaasan accused me of stealing her magazine etc and then Yujiro got angry with her and hit her. And I walked out. After 4 or 5 days I agreed to come home IF he would seek outside help and advice. And we went to see a dementia doctor...without Okaasan. That talk helped us a lot.
And of course MY life over the past 2 years hasn't been great with all my family in England dramas and then my own health...not to mention our dear old cat dieing finally.

So. Even without Okaasan 2008, 2009 and 2010 would have been humdingers of years.

How IS Okaasan?
Good, generally.
But we have noticed that her daily life has changed a little from even 1 year ago.
She doesn't do so much personal handwashing...underwear.
She doesn't walk so far anymore - mostly just very locally.
Increasingly she isn't so good at using the microwave, the stove, the heater etc
She eats LOADS, probably because she forgets that she has already eaten. So she is putting on weight, which isn't good for old legs.
Her conversations can be VERY hamster-wheely without the support of Yujiro chatting on and on.
The paranoia/fear/suspicions can come back easily - all the stuff about the hula dance group and their events and the new dances.
She has the absolutely fixed routines - the walk to Seiyu supermarket and Macdonalds.
We can probably leave her alone for one night, or maybe two - if we telephone to check she is ok and remembering to eat etc - but we are pretty sure she couldn't be alone for longer because she can't cook much and her mood goes down quickly if she doesn't have chat with someone.

And so. And so.

I am SO happy we moved to a larger house with Okaasan on a different floor from our living space. THAT was a very important thing to have done. Once we are upstairs we have absolute privacy. Vital.

Yujiro does so much. He does 90% of the cooking....and a lot of the shopping too.
My duties are gathering the dirty underwear, doing sneaky cleaning and thinking of nice, warm, fuzzy Family Events/Outings.

Am I happy with this life?
I look forward to a time when it will be different. When Okaasan has died or is in a carehome/hospital.
I'd like selfish life back. Life with this old lady is pretty boring.
It might be 5 years or more. I just have to be patient.
She is physically healthy, now.
But that could quickly change.
And many people who've lived with dementia sufferers seem to say 3 years to 5 years as a span or when the condition worsens.
So, we'll see. I'm hanging out for another 5 years of this...I don't think (hope!) it will be more!!!!

Forthcoming Attractions?
I am going to spend CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR with Okaasan!
Just the two of us.
He will be off ski teaching in Niseko December 22 to January 1 or 2.
So I have ordered the Kentucky Fried Chicken to eat ith Okaasan on December 24th.
I have got the Japanese New Year Food Box Sets leaflet from the supermarket - and I will be ordering in some O-Shogatsu Cheer.

IF I'm a really good Oyomesan I will encourage Okaasan to show me how to cook some New Year food, and we will spend a few happy/confused hours in the kitchen together peeling vegetables and looking for the soy sauce bottle with her.
That's if I'm feeling good.

If not. I'll buy it from the supermarket and hope to get through dinners over the holiday period as quickly as possible and get back upstairs to the winebox, TV and cats.

Two years as daughter-in-law to a Japanese old lady with developing dementia........



  1. Is there any way you can change the background colour back to what it was? the orange background and the blue text is murder on the old eyesight. It was better the way it was - for reading. Sorry to request but it just gives me a headache and detracts from reading properly. Congrats or not on 2 years.

  2. Two years... way to go! Two very long, but at the same time short years. Try not to think of it in five year terms, you'll go crazy...just take it one year at a time...

  3. that better?

    Sorry, when I have a spare moment I play around with it...but you're right.Headachy.

  4. congratulations on making it this far and getting through the other side of a very busy, full on, sad and sometimes very shitty two years. I must be hard because okaasan, while you know her life is better than it was, she probably doesn't :(

    I expect this next year to be one of my shittiest to date. I hope that I get through the otherside and still sound as positive as you.

    Enjoy the KFC - yum. Haven't had that for ages. Hope the ordered in osechi is nice. I think I need to start getting Granny K to show me how to make stuff. Only the nice stuff though. Some if it is such a waste of time and who eats big bloody bows of kombu seaweed anyway?

  5. Yes, I often (well, sometimes) wonder what is Okaasan's view of herself and her life...and whether she thinks living with us is better or good at all.....she has a level of self awareness still of course and she MUST have an opinion about it all.
    Or does it all blend in to a never ending Visit to Sapporo, and in her mind she is just here for a while and going home sometime to Saitama?

    thankfully, we will never know.

  6. Thanks Oyomesan, much better :)