Friday, 30 April 2010

Dementia Thoughts...: Full Moon

Dementia Thoughts...: Full Moon

Step problems...

Okaasan's step climbing ability has taken a step back.
We only realized how much last night.
We had swept her away in the car from her favorite, late-afternoon MacDonald's coffee-stop to a local soba restaurant for a family dinner and so all came home together...actually for the first time in ages.

Poor Okaasan had REAL problems climbing the two steps to the front door.
"It's dangerous, all these stones! I fell down here!" she said, and asked Yujiro to give her a hand to help her up the steps.
Our eyes met. More than a bit of a surprise.
Okaasan has never been great with steps and stairs, she kind of hops up them and uses a rail for stairs if there is one.
But getting up these two steps onto the cement area by the front door was REALLY challenging for her.
Now I can completly see how she fell down here a few weeks ago, hitting her face and hip on the cement.

Last autumn she could do it better than this. And during winter the snow level reduced the height of the steps. Now all the snow has melted and it's quite a jump. The stones on the ground aren't particularly dangerous - she is just blaming a side issue for her inability - but the steps are very hard for her....we didn't notice that there's been a decline in her physical ability.

Luckily Yujiro's kitten-proof gate seems to be working. Now he can turn his energies to Okaasan and the steps....

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Back to doing the time warp.

Okaasan must be feeling stronger - she is back to strange comings and goings.

Tuesday night Yujiro cooked up a pork and kimchee thing - and Okaasan who'd set out for a walk at 5.30 pm, went to the local soba restaurant for a cup of tea...felt hungry and ended up ordering dinner.
She didn't take the telephone either, so we couldn't find her and contact her. At 7.30 pm Yujiro walked around the streets looking for his mum, at 8 pm she came home and didn't want his dinner.

Last night at 6.15 pm I was standing in the kitchen starting to make dinner - chopsticks on the table, pans of things bubbling away, chopping the salad....and Okaasan set out. I pointed to all the preparations and said: "Dinner will be at 7 pm, so you have 40 minutes!"...and off she set (in the rain and wind and cold)....
Came home at 7. 30 pm. This time wanted dinner. So we washed our plates and heated the food up again. Yujiro apologised to me...

All the dementia books talk about this: how people become energised in the evening or night. Then inappropriate desire to go out and do something. We are lucky she is going out at 5/6 pm and not 2 am of course!
Last night's weather was terrible - nobody would WANT to go out in that. Most people would get to the front door and think: "Nah! I'll stay inside!". But not Okaasan, somehow she thought it was a good time to totter off down the street.
All day she sits in front of the TV and does nothing...then late afternoon something switches in her mind and she gets ready for going out, spends ages hunting around for keys/umbrella/purse/bag/handkerchief etc...and finally gets going....whatever the weather or preparations for dinner.

I saw the Alice in Wonderland movie the other day. I saw parallels with our life.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Denial under the kotatsu.

Okaasan is back into "My body isn't so good, I fell over, the best thing to do is stay home and not eat" mode again.
She didn't go to hula yesterday. But she set out at 6 pm to buy magazines. Came home at 8 pm.
She is eating - sometimes.
But she sits at the table looking tired and in pain.
She hobbles to the toilet using an umbrella.
She is obviously in pain in her hip or back.
But won't see a doctor.
Just looks defeated by it all.

Ridiculous. But that's her choice.
And Yujiro lets her do it. I guess there isn't much he can do. Can't pick her up and carry her out of the door!
But she is hobbling around. She is eating enough. It's some kind of life I suppose.
There are so many old people who waste doctors time by going to clinics as a kind of social club, it is sad that this woman could probably benefit from letting an expert examine her body. But she thinks she knows best.

* Better news! The kitten gate is a BIG success! Chichi is defeated! Yujiro has won.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


Haven't blogged cos every waking moment for us has been taken up with another round of Kitten Proofing the Stairwell.
Every conversation.
Every brain cell.
Every second.

If we thought Okaasan was a trial. One determined kitten (and his not so bright brother) have tested our skills. But no. We think we have done it.
Introducing: The Gate (Model III or IV).

We wait to see what Chichi comes up with next. Tanks and missiles probably.

Okaasan seemed ok. She went out for local walks and shopping. Seemed chatty and happy.
She went out at 6 pm yesterday and we called her back by phone at 7 pm for dinner.
She came home complaining of back/hip pain....ate dinner...and then complained a whole lot more.
But she settled down under the kotatsu with the TV - so we'll see...
She cleaned the bathroom again the other night - I wonder if she was bending down awkwardly for too long?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The other knee...progress report.

Knees have been a big feature of this blog in the past year: mine and his.
His knee is doing great - nasty scar and clips, but all working well.

So time for MY knee to come on stage and take a bow.
Yesterday - my busy Tuesday - I got home and thought: Hey! No Pain! Yeah!

True. Did all the walking of my Tuesday, home to NHK, teach 90 mins, then Odori to Shin-Sapporo by subway, teach 2 90-minute classes, then home by subway...and NO PAIN!

After a year of agony, pain and swelling this is such, such good news.
Like dieting (which is also going well at the moment thanks to a banana at breakfast thing), you can best measure progress by trying to put on your old clothes.
My old routines are the best measure of how the knee is doing.
My next goal: to get to the kaiten sushi bar at the far end of Shin-Sapporo station for lunch in between classes.  I haven't been there is almost a year, because it was too far to walk....but maybe I can next month???

Monday, 19 April 2010

A BIG step for Okaasan-kind.....

She's really on a roll.
At 9 am Yujiro went downstairs to get himself some breakfast and came back with a big grin:
"She's having a bath! She started making the bath herself and getting ready for hula dance! It's the first time EVER she has started her Monday morning routine by herself!"

Really surprising to us. For over a year now we've had to remind her that it's hula dance day, and start the bath and get her into the routine for getting ready to go out.

And today? Somehow she knew it was hula day and started getting ready herself. And went out to hula.
Yesterday the hula friend called again, worried because they haven't seen her for 2 weeks now, and Yujiro gave the phone to Okaasan. Maybe that fixed it in her memory more?

But does seem she is on a good course at the moment. I wonder if, ironically, the staying home quietly for 3 weeks has been a good thing for her dementia? Quiet, ordered time close to home instead of the roaming, hours of random shopping and coming home tired.

** Mind you...mid-afternoon Yujiro gets a panicky telephone call from Okaasan: "I'm in a restaurant and I don't have enough money to pay!". He had to go and help her, take her to lunch's his fault really, because he needs to check how much money she has.....she isn't capable of doing that and planing ahead.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Okaasan cleaned!

Just thought I'd add this to the blog - because it is actually a momentous thing: Okaasan did some house cleaning.
Friday morning I thought about cleaning the tiles on the bathroom floor, and scrubbed a bit with the sponge that Okaasan bought...but gave up cos I didn't have enough time.
Saturday morning - hey! - it was clean!
I thanked Yujiro for doing it. He denied all knowledge....
So....unless Chichi has been earning his keep - that means - OKAASAN CLEANED IT!

She of course has forgotten.
I thanked her and she looked surprised: Did I?

I guess she was washing underwear and her eyes strayed down to the grimy floor and she  got to work with the super-scrubbing sponge.
She really is on a roll at the moment.

These spells of mental clarity make you think the dementia isn't so bad after all. And then...

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Normal service resumed.

*  The man is back with a bag of metal bits from his leg!
*  The kittens slept in the computer room.
*  I stuffed tissue paper in my ears.
*  Heard kittens at 3.30 am and WENT BACK TO SLEEP until 5.30 am!
*  Okaasan went out for lunch and came home ok.
*  Man has fixed more magnets to the babygate....we wait to see what happens next....

Friday, 16 April 2010

If it isn't one thing...

it's another..................

Okaasan fine. No problem.

Kittens at 3.30 am?

I'm at the end of any tether I may have once had.

Chichi is constantly getting up and miaowing loudly at 3.20...3.30...3.45 isn't even light yet. But in a month from now up here in Hokkaido it will be light at 3.45 am, so what time will he be up then? 2.30 ?
And he is now brilliant at clambering thru the bits of the babygate/plastic/net that don't have big magnets attached...and jumping down into the hallway.
SOMETHING has to be done.

* I think we should get the sliding, folding doors we saw in Homac care center...and somehow fix the bottom behind a bar on the steps. Yujiro thinks more magnets. Chichi thinks: Bring it On!

* And I think maybe the kittens should sleep in the computer room because that is a bit further away from me and Okaasan's sleeping ears. And I should get earplugs.

And how is Okaasan behaving/feeling? She's fine. I think!
Yesterday I left her the "We are busy, go out and have lunch" note on the kitchen table. And she went. I came back from work at 5 pm and prepared her evening meal. She trotted home like a Good Okaasan at 6.15 pm. Then I went out to (thankfully) meet a friend and use some discount onsen tickets in posh city hotel.
Okaasan wasn't at all bothered by me pointing out dinner on the table to help herself to...and cheerfully sent me on my way.
Looking after HER is easy!

Chichi and Popo are another matter.
I am going to come home at lunchtime today and play with them relentlessly.

Yujiro is coming home today - pretty amazing really - by himself by foot and train. And he'll bring the bag of pins that were in his knee to show me I'm sure.

And then we'll get back to the main event in our lives: Defeating Chichi.

* But GOOOOOD news: Yujiro's got a summer job to keep him in beer until the next ski season. He's going to be a Velo Taxi driver, one of those sunburned bicycle rickshaw guys who peddle tourists around downtown in summer. It's exactly his kind of job: outside, no boring suit, people, active.
Since I've known him he's done all sorts of interesting, strange jobs - and here comes the next one.
Let's hope for a sunny, warm summer.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Operation ok. Okaasan Ok. Oyomesan...hanging in there.

Yujiro's leg is now empty of all the metal work.
He spent the night on painkillers and will be in a wheelchair today.
Then tomorrow they get him up and walking again.
Incredible really.
I hope to go and see him on Saturday.

Yesterday was ok too at home.
I did housework in the morning. Gave Okaasan her lunch. Tried to exhaust the kittens.
Later I went downtown to check stuff about airtickets for a quick trip to Tokyo next month, to woodchip (ahhhhhh!!!) and to shop.
Back to watch TV and then give Okaasan a good fish dinner.
Sapporo had SNOW all day. And strong winds. So she didn't go out of course. But she seemed good - it took a while to get her chatty, but after about 10 minutes I got her down memory lane about milk/fish/mother/Kawagoe/father/crab....and she seemed happy enough with Yujiro being "away working".

I'm reading two books about dementia at the moment. A bit scary really, if this is our future experience. I hope by then we have built up enough trust and routine with Okaasan that she is manageable.

A friend asked in an email if Okaasan ever does/helps wth housework.
No. Not at all.
Her room is a mess of newspapers. clothes, supermarket flyers, plastic bags of half eaten food.
When I vacumn the kitchen I offer her the vacumn cleaner and leave it out in sight for her. But she has never used it.
A few weeks ago she surprised me by buying a bathroom surface cleaning sponge and actually using it in the bathroom sink.
But apart from that - no.
She washes up plates after lunch or dinner - usually - and she occasionally puts trash in the trash bins. And she hand washes her own underwear and T-shirts. She puts them in the spin dryer and hangs them up...eventually.
But basically housework is something she has forgotten all about.

Don't blame her! I wish I had reached that convenient stage.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Oyome-san Duty Day 1

Two years ago Yujiro had THIS all fitted into his left knee.
He crashed into a tree at Niseko, on the last day of ski instructors' spring training camp.

We didn't know it at the time - but it was the first of a series of Shitty Life Events for us....two years of stuff...injury, Okaasan cometh, England family dramas with car crash, injury, mystery faints, hospitals, brushes with death, Okaasan playing up, damaged knees, father died,  cat died, unemployment...

So in about 2 hours from now Yujiro will have a big operation in Kutchan Hospital near Niseko to have 14 pins and 3 plates taken out.

And I am home looking after Okaasan for 3? 4? oh my God...FIVE days?

He decided not to tell Okaasan about this operation, so I am also doing the whitelies: "He's working at the ski resort, he is staying at the ski resort, he came home late last night, he left early this morning etc etc"

Last time I had her like this alone she was ok...but after 3 days she was beggining to realize she hadn't actually seen her darling boy for a while and that this bad-cooking/strange-speaking foreign woman was holding the fort.

The kittens are giving me hell at the moment too. They woke at 3.30 am...I got up for an hour with them...then they and I fell asleep again until 9.30 am! Much needed sleep.

I started cooking Okaasan's lunch at 10.45 am...and told her at 11.05 it was ready....and she said: "Oh, it's only 11 o'clock, I don't have to eat now, later is better..."

As I was standing there with fried rice in the pan all ready to serve...I almost threw it at her. But I kept my cool and said cheerfully: "Well, you often eat just after 11 am don't you!" and finally got her to the table 10 minutes later...I lied and told her that I am having lunch with a friend downtown later....I'll eat out later on when I go for a woodchip sauna....the "friend" is me myself. Two meals with Okaasan in one day is too many.'s gonna be SUCH a fun few days.

And my man is in hospital and having an operation. Just a routine thing yadda yadda...but....still's 2 hours away from Sapporo so there is no point in me going  there today because he'll be groggy etc....and then I have lessons the rest of this week....

So. Oyomesan be strong!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Still no hula............

No - Okaasan didn't go again.
She feels the bruising round her eye is still bad, which it really isn't.
And so she stayed home again.

But, she had a bath. She ate lunch. She ate dinner. She even stepped outside and hung laundry....and rearranged the hung laundry several times.

So. We hope she is getting there. But that fall 12 days ago is still rippling round her life.

Meanwhile the kittens - Chichi in particular - is driving us to destruction. He hurdled the babygate and the plastic sheet and got into the kitchen/toilet hallway about 7 times between 4.30 am and when I finally left to work exhausted at 9 am.
After work Yujiro and I met at the homecare center for a long walk, talk and think - HOW to block off the bottom of the stairs? We looked at loads of stuff, gates, wood, plastic sheets, frames.....and finally Yujiro came up with big magnets as a possible.
At the time of blogging Chichi is foxed. But it's only been 12 hours....

In England - my step-mum sounds great. She is enjoying spring flowers. She walked down the garden (with sticks) to see Dad's ash scattering place - she's been out visiting a stately home in her wheelchair and with her helper...she's getting stuck into parish politics again and worrying about the health of family and friends.
It's wonderful. I truely never expected her to get back home and lead this life again. She nearly died several times last year and now she is home and enjoying a new season in the garden.
She still has the live-in carer. But she said that the other morning she got herself up out of bed and dressed and made breakfast herself - huge progress.

And now....Yujiro has just left to go to Kutchan and the hospital.
Tomorrow will be his operation to remove the pins and plates from his leg.
He will stay in hospital 3 or 4 nights at least.
Oyome-san Duty starts now.

Monday, 12 April 2010


Okaasan seems to be in a spell of clear conversation.
Meanwhile I am all talked-out.

Yujiro went off to an end-of-ski-season party last night with other instructors from his ski school - so I had the pleasure of Okaasan's company for dinner.

I wasn't filled with joy because I'd spent FIVE hours locked in a recording studio doing the English voice-over for many promotion videos about a major Japanese hotel chain.
Ostentatious, luxury hotels in Japan - conceived in the 60s and built in the 70s/80s- are now on hard times and trying to woo Chinese guests with their gaudy appeals.

1,000 seat restaurants!
3-story atrium!
Blue Nights Karaoke Lounge!
Roman-style Jumbo bath!

They do videos in English and Chinese to show at travel fairs in Hong Kong, Shanghai etc
I get this narration work sometimes, mainly because I have a plummy English accent...and can say "a quintessentially Japanese experience".

Anyway....5 hours of blather in an spring-tight room was no warm-up to Dinner a Deux, even though Yujiro had cooked dinner all ready.
But Okaasan was uncommonly clear-minded and talked from topic to topic only occassional hamster-wheel repeats (3 times instead of 6 or 8).
I set her off with "rich Chinese tourists" and from there she went almost naturally to.... Hong Kong, my trip to South Africa from HK, then Kenya, then HK and Japanese schools, diamonds, Stonenge, Chinese, Korean food and people, my friend Yanagi Tamako at school, end of war, Koreans....
Okaasan should do video narration. She can talk almost seamlessly!
And repeats in the same voice and word are a cinch.

Today is bath and hula day. I'm away working, so it's Yujiro's task to see if Okaasan is ready to really get back in her groove outside the house. She's only been out twice in 10 days. And she smells a bit.

#  in other news...the kittens have already conquered the newly positioned babygate and plastic wall and made it into the entrance hall by the kitchen door. They should be snuggling up under the kotatsu with Okaasan by mid-week at this rate!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Why am I staying at home/not eating?

Okaasan washed clothes, hung them out to dry and went out for a walk and coffee at MacDonalds.
6 days after the fall on the step and then moping around under the kotatsu watching TV and eating small amounts.

Yujiro had asked her if she was going to have a bath.
"Today? Why? I had a bath before hula dancing the other day."
"No, you didn't go to hula."
"I didn't? Why didn't I go.....???"
"Because you fell down and bruised your face, if you don't remember that maybe it's ok to go out now because you are feeling better aren't you?

And out she went.

Great. I came home from work and realized immediataly.The laundry was hanging on the line, the little flowery slippers were in the entrance hall. The TV was switched off.
Okaasan came home about 7.20 pm and ate dinner with us. She seemed tired, but I guess she hasn't been active at all for 5 days - just walking from the kotatsu to the toilet and back.

We are so relieved.
Next week Yujiro goes to hospital for his operation and I'll be on Oyomesan Duty for 4 or 5 days...I want Okaasan to be active and enjoying life by then.
Yesterday I even went to Mitsukoshi to get some Event Leaflets for April (Italian Festa), because I planned to slip them among Okaasan's newspapers and hopefully prompt her to go to Mistukoshi etc - I've still slipped them in there this morning at 5 am, but the need is not so urgent now.

*  Oh gawd....I had a horrible memory lapse myself yesterday. Am I losing it too?
I had an awful First Class of Term at NHK...somehow the students never quite jelled, the atmopshere never quite took off - I felt like a novice teacher all over again.
I came away from that thinking about the class and trying to analze what went so wrong,  went to Mitsukoshi to get the Event Leaflets.
Then I got out my subway card, went thru the ticket gate, waited on the platform and got on the train - before remembering that I'd DRIVEN to NHK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Had to jump out of the train quick as the doors were closing.

Yujiro may be cooking for two demented women very soon.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Rehabilitation failed mission

Today I tried to give Okaasan some mental stimulation - but my efforts mostly failed.

She didn't want to go out to lunch. Didn't want to eat any lunch again.
So we went out shopping without her etc. Bought KFC and came home...Okaasan emerged from the living room and sat down to eat some with us. Nobody can resist KFC smells!

After lunch I decided to put my latest idea into action:

 If she doesn't want to go out maybe she'd like to do some sewing and get her groove back on. Apart from the quick supermarket visit on Monday night she hasn't been out of the house since last Friday. But instead of sitting looking at the Tv for hours some sewing might stimulate her a bit.
She isn't actually sick, but still feels embarrassed to go out.
Her left temple is an ugly dirty yellow color and her left eye seems a bit closed. But she seems ok.

So I looked in my/Yujiro's clothing for some torn clothing. Or hanging off buttons. None.
Then I found the bedroom curtains: half lined with blackout cloth against the summer sunrises, I did a rough job last year...and one curtain was still not lined.

I took the curtains to Okaasan and confessed that I really am a terrible sewer. Could she help me? Could she show me what to do? I thought this would be perfect - a way for her to shine and show what she can do.

We started together companionably...then I was there in the kitchen peeling potatos while she fussed away over it...and every time I tried to slip upstairs and leave her to it...she called me back to endlessly discuss how the material was wrong, the size was wrong, the kitchen scissors weren't suitable etc etc etc.
It was agonising.
Everytime she got to the bottom seam she'd say with surprise: Oh, this is already sewn! And I'd day: Yes, I sewed that seam last year, it's the top which isn't done yet.
And 2 or 3 minutes later she'd start it again.

It was too big and complex for her to do.
She still knows the theory of doing it.
But she was constantly pinning and unpinning and fussing about the size etc.

After about 90 minutes she took my get-out excuse and agreed: Maybe you should just do it as you did it last year, it isn't perfect, but it's ok. Sorry, the material is all wrong, it's not the right size....etc etc...

And I brought the now-unpicked curtain linings back upstairs. She returned thankfully to her TV. And I'll have to find a non-kitten time to do some sewing...which I hate, but can do.

Buttons are ok. Curtain seams not.
I feel frustrated that I didn't find her a good activity to do. Maybe it helped a little. Gave her 90 minutes away from the TV....I guess.

I wonder how long she'll stay home? She is actually eating a bit now. She ate a small dinner and chatted to Yujiro about things. But her eye looks ugly.

Dodging fire...

Dodging fire....the wrapping paper round my birthday present last month said something about women-in-unhappy-homes-may-be-too-busy-dodging-fire-to-find-themselves etc...
This week we've been firefighting I guess: for the kittens and Okaasan.

Yujiro's home. Okaasan still hasn't been out. I've had the new term of classes start. Sapporo had rain. A crocus came up.

* The kittens have suddenly started scaling the ceiling-to-floor net that is meant to stop them falling into the stairwell and down into the kitchen and Okaasan's life. They scramble up it every 3 minutes when the hormones are particularly racing. * And Chichi managed to jump from the printer TO the top of the bookcase finally and attack all the wintering houseplants. * And they've been waking up at 4.30 am......

So we've been trying to dodge the fires - working out a new barrier system on the stairs/removing all the houseplants/going to bed ourselves early so we get some sleep in before the kitten alarm.

Okaasan still has an ugly yellow bruise on her face from the fall, and she hasn't been out since Friday. I understand she doesn't want to go to Hula dance and have everyone see her face and ask endless questions. But I think we should get her out of the house today for something. Otherwise she is just sitting watching TV.

So, dodging Okaasan "fires" - * Yujiro sat down with all her stuff and tried to find the concert ticket she thinks she already bought. No luck. * The hula dance friend called to check Okaasan is ok and said she'd ordered a video of the hula dance event...Okaasan has never mentioned this, and we don't have a video machine anymore - so more wasted money....ho hum...

And we went across the road to Hoshiba-san to apologise formally for Okaasan borrowing taxi money and forgetting to return it.
Hoshiba-san invited us in and gave us beers to drink.
Such a nice woman - she is in her mid-80s, but compared to Okaasan all there mentally - her home was neat and clean. Loads of family pics, wintering plants and knick-knacks.
We gave her some flowers and asked her to tell us directly if Okaasan borrows any more money etc.
She chatted about the neighborhood because she's lived here 50 years. She urged us to get Okaasan doing stuff around the home and bring Okaasan over for tea etc...

We should try to get Okaasan more connected to the neighbourhood for some social connections. We checked with Hoshiba-san about the Neighborhood Association - that would be one way for Okaasan to get information about events locally and get her more connected.

But I came away a little sad because Hoshiba-san's life is so much better than Okaasan's....she loves gardening, she has family visiting, she has a nice, organised home - Okaasan in contrast sits and watches TV, goes once a week to hula dance, has no family contact apart from us and sits amid piles of clothes, newspapers and old food wrappings...

* I'm getting more into dementia research. I just ordered 2 books  from the UK and they arrived this week. When I get a moment I will read more.
I think we are doing ok for Okaaasan. Basically. But she would be so much better with more social connections - more activity. She IS good at talking to strangers - staff in shops/women on the train - but apart from the hula dance women and us she has no on-going relationships with people. No friends/family from Saitama telephone her.

I wish we could do more for her.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Quiet day at home

Yujiro skied. Okaasan and I stayed home lazily.

I offered Okaasan lunch twice, but she didn't want it and just made herself some instant soup.
I hung laundry outside for the first time this year and asked her to come and supervise me hanging stuff. Hanging laundry is one of her Happy Activities. hard to do in a Hokkaido winter.

The face swelling has gone done mainly, and now she has a blood bruise near the eye.
She thinks she fell on the steps outside the house.
But she isn't sure. And sometimes she isn't even sure she fell...."something happened to me yesterday didn't it?".

I watched the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy "Fifty First Dates", which ironically was all about a woman with a head injury resulting in short term memory loss....some scenes felt so familiar to me!!!...and actually for a Sandler comedy it treated the subject fairly sensitively....

In the movie he makes a video for the women to watch upon waking every day - to bring her up to knowledge on her condition and life. So she can actually remember who he is and what their life is all about.
I think this goes counter to all I've read about short term memory loss - telling the person that they HAVE this problem, making them face that. In the movie Drew Barrymore's character has to experience every day that she had a car crash etc and that this is her man's shown as a moment of shock and then moving on into happy reconnection with her life.

When Okaasan was so awful last year about me being a thief in her room etc...I DID write out a letter to her telling her You Have Short Term Memory Problems and So I Come Into Your Room to Clean and You Lose Things Constantly Yourself etc 
I knew I would never get it translated and give it to her. I knew she would never read it. But it helped me vent to myself what I wish I could say to her.

And I think in a strange way Okaasan does know she has problems. The constant questions and checking with us about stuff: did I fall? I fell didn't I?, What day is it today?, Hula class is on Wednesdays isn't it? And now she often says: I forget, I've forgotten, I must be losing my memory....

I guess as dementia grows you reconnect the person with who they are and what they are doing every time they wake up and start a day. The morning greetings and the routines.

The weekend ended quietly too.
I did my accounts, cleaned windows with the help of kittens-with-window-jumping-fancies and generally got ready for the week ahead.
Yujiro came home and I cooked dinner. Okaasan suddenly announced at 6.30 pm that she was going out to get something from the shop near the station....I pointed out that dinner was almost ready....we started without her, but she did come home within 40 minutes..and ate most of it and chatted a bit. She's still not 100% lively, but ok.
Today is hula dance. I wonder if she'll want to go?


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Down. But not out.

Okaasan seems fine.
The bruises looked slightly better on the second day and the swelling has gone down. She looks like a boxer who was Down, but not Out.
She didn't eat lunch. At only a bit of nabe soup and mushrooms for dinner. Excused herself and went back to lay down under the kotatsu. It doesn't look like a great position to me - she has her head against the sofa and thus her neck bent at a strange angle.....but she didn't want any offer of help.
She says her back hurts. And the wrist still a little.

But she seems ok. For a 79-year-old who had a bad fall it seems good.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Okaasan injured???!

I was going to write a chirpy blog about how Okaasan is so good at talking to strangers and getting them to help her.
Today, by chance, I was on the same subway train as she went downtown to buy that concert ticket.
She was sitting talking with a middle aged woman, on the platform, on the train...and then at Odori station the woman was holding Okaasan's hand and showing her the way to the north exit!
Yes, I was kind of spying...but actually she left the house before me and I noticed her on the platform and decided to let her enjoy meeting the other woman etc, who I guessed was showing her the way to the newspaper office ticket window for events.

So. I was going to write that.

Yujiro got home at 6 pm, Okaasan was on the doorstep without a housekey and said she'd fallen down and twisted her wrist a bit.

I came home at 6.30 pm and cooked dinner. When we called her into the kitchen to eat we were shocked at what the bright kitchen light revealed.

She has a terrible bruising/grazing and swelling to her mouth, jaw and left eye and temple. Looks like the boxer who lost. She can't remember of course. She thinks she "fell forward" somewhere. But doesn't know where. It seems to be only her face. But we don't know.
Ironically in downtown Sapporo now the ice has gone. Today was a wonderful, warm spring day.
And she doesn't know if she bought the concert ticket or not.

She was very low at dinner and her mouth hurt. But she drank soup and ate rice and Korean pancakes. Drank Japanese tea. Went back to the kotatsu.

What on EARTH happened?
When  saw her just before 11 am she was having fun walking hand in hand with some woman in the station. And 6 hours later she has nasty face injuries.

We'll see how she feels tomorrow. But of course, she'll refuse to go to a doctor anyway and will take the No Eating and Let Me Sleep course of action.

I heard a bit of a horror story from a  student a few days ago - her 90 year old father-in-law fell in February, but seemed ok. 3 weeks later he got up one day and couldn't walk! Finally diagnosed as blood seeping inside his was drained off and he was ok.
But falls and hits to the head at any age are bad. And Okaasan has really take a bashing.

I complain big time about Okaasan I know. But I worry about her too.

Wively duties.

Persuaded Yujiro to come home between ski lessons - SO much better for  everyone!
All the snow has melted from the main roads and he can get home in about 90 minutes, so to reward him for the effort I did the whole Dinner-on-the-Table routine that Good Wives should do.

Bought the fish that we like, made up the soup, rice, veggies, salad and pickles - had it all ready to go at 7 p.m., we actually were just starting to eat when Okaasan came home so we could all sit there as the Ideal family and eat and talk.
So much better.
I can see how attractive it must be to stay at the ski school at the end of the day and NOT have to drive 90 mins. back to Wife and Mother, plus Krazy Kittens - but if you make the effort and come Wife will reward you. With food at least.

Okaasan thinks she has asked an event ticket office to reserve a ticket for her to a concert. We've just given her the money to go and pay for it. It's a little sad that she has no friends to go to concerts with, but great that she saw something she would like to go to and is making a plan. We just have to find a way to get the ticket OFF her, because from now until June it could end up anywhere in the trash piles of her room...

Chichi can now jump and switch on/off the bedroom light by the hanging cord AND make a dash for the babygate and get down the stairs towards the kitchen. He actually made it into the kitchen this morning - Okaasan was a bit shocked.
Maybe Chichi would like to take over kitchen duties completly and cook for all of us?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Day Off from Duties.

Oyomesan escaped - to a huge, meat 'n chocolate cake/fondue pig-out buffet lunch with a friend and Nine, the escapist movie about the Italian movie business (who knew Daniel Day-Lewis could sing?!!).

Yujiro stayed home and cooked lunch for his mother, in between translation work.

The doorbell rang.
It was Hoshiba-san. The nice old lady who lives across the road with the big garden.
In winter we don't see her so much, but chat a little on fine weather days or putting out the trash.
She'd come to ask: "Can you return the money Okaasan borrowed from me for a taxi recently?"
Of course Okaasan doesn't remember this at all.
But apparently sometime recently she had come home by taxi, but didn't have enough money. She'd gone and borrowed Y1,000 (about $10) from Hoshiba-san......but then totally forgetten of course.

A little embarrassing in any culture, for anyone.
In Japan a MAJOR embarrassment.
Poor Hoshiba-san, we don't know her so well...and I bet she was waiting and wondering what to do. Finally she saw the car in our parking space and came over to ask for her money back.

Yujiro returned the money with many apologies and says we should go at the weekend and give Hoshiba-san some kind of apology present too.

He doesn't give Okaasan much money because of all the random shopping she does, but she usually has enough for bits and pieces. About once a month Okaasan doesn't have enough money in her purse for a restaurant or shop. But getting in a taxi without the money to pay for it is a new level of money-mismanagement....