Friday, 17 February 2012

Helping ME, to help YOU.

Badly in need of Tom Cruise's persuasive powers here.

Okaasan is still laying on the living room carpet in piss-soaked pants, refusing to eat and rejecting offers of help.

This is the third day now.

Both she and Yujiro subscribe to this: Don't Eat and It'll All Get Better idea, and Okaasan adds dollops of Don't Need Help, Just Let Me Be.

And so she lays there on the carpet, half covered with the heated table blanket, unable to stand up quickly enough and get to the toilet. The stench has reached the kitchen.

Still don't know what is wrong. "My neck hurts" could be anything.

Yujiro just lets her be, while he worries about our computer troubles and his own so-so health. I was out working all day and got home after 9 pm.
He said he'd given her some water to drink and helped her sit up to drink it.

Now is Friday morning and she has been like this since Wednesday.
Tomorrow he goes off for 2 days of ski work. I am going out all day with friends to try dog-sledding.

HOW much longer are we going to let this situation slide on?
As we went to bed last night I told him that if she isn't able/wanting to stand up and come to the kitchen table for at least a cup of tea by tonight - we should be getting outside help and he should be cancelling work this weekend.
I so, so SO want to call an ambulance and get a team of nice capable, bossy professionals to come in and sweep Okaasan off to hospital.

It is SO hard though to know at what point to intervene and help Okaasan. She is so proud and independent. So confident that she knows best in health matters. Hides obvious needs like toilet failures and gets angry if we try to do something for her.

I just peered into her room from the kitchen and I can see that Okaasan has managed to get to the clothes drawers and get out a clean shirt and put that on, and she has moved her position around on the carpet. That's a good sign.
I will go in a bit later with a bowl of hot water and a face cloth and get her to wash her own face and body. It's the least I can do.

It is so Not Good to see her like this. But stepping in to help is hard. He lets it slide on. I think today is make or break day.


  1. Nightmare! My MIL is the opposite - she also had a sore neck and headaches and told us, "I think I need to go to the hospital". Turns out, it was caused by lying and sitting awkwardly - a soft foam neck brace helped. It's hard when she is SO STUBBORN! I vote for calling the ambulance if she doesn't get up and about soon - even if it turns out it's not serious, perhaps she'll realise she needs to let people help her... or not. Of course you don't want to injure her pride, but this must be putting a lot of stress on you!

  2. This sounds horrible and is a completely unfair position to put you in. Not eating is what people do before they die in many cases (my mother-in-law was finished when she would/could no longer eat as was my friend's mother). How are you doing to know when it's serious and when it's not with this way of approaching illness? It all sounds to me like a "good excuse" to do what they want, which is to avoid medical attention.

    I'm sorry for Okaasan, but I'm sorrier for you. She has the power and you don't so you are the helpless one. Her pride is not more important than your emotional health. If she died, you would feel terrible even though it would be in no way your fault. My thoughts are with you and your difficulties as you suffer through this.

  3. Thats shit. You definitely need to intervene - or really get Y to see that he can't let his mum be like that for three days. Its not normal and he should be canceling his work obligations this weekend to do something about it. She's obviously sick and not wanting to ask for help. If nothing else the fact that she can't get to the toilet and is peeing her pants is proof enough - why can't he see this? And I agree with Orchid64, her pride is not more important than your emotional health. This is HIS mother and she can't be left like that.
    Good luck.

  4. What a difficult situation. As you know, we recently moved my MIL to a care facility, but it took a long time to get to that place. We also had a few times when she insisted that she was fine, but actually was quite ill. My MIL, like Okaasan, also has a lot of pride and is quite stubborn, but her dementia also interferes with her ability to recognize when she is not in good shape. She even resisted going to the hospital when she had third degree burns and another time when she was burning with a 39 degree fever. Both times she needed hospitalization. Even last week she was in the hospital with pneumonia and she was certain she was well and removed her IV and tried to leave the hospital on her own.
    I know well that the situation is rife with doubt and uncertainty, and that there are no 100% solutions, but keep talking with Yujiro and hopefully you will figure out what is best for all three of you. I know you would love to get a care manager in to do an evaluation, but you are facing resistance. Maybe you and Yujiro could make an appointment with someone at your city office just to discuss options and find out what services are available. Our care manager has been great and I have discussed many of my concerns with her, she has offered a lot of support to us as well as to MIL.
    I know it feels terrible and reading this entry brought up a lot of emotion in me remembering how hard it was with baachan here.. from the stench to the tiptoeing around the fact that we were living in an alternate reality.
    Thinking of you- nothing short of sheer admiration for your kindness and empathy. Keep talking with Yujiro. In my experience, I found that JIro's resistance was a really deep sadness and feeling of loss of the mom he had always known and a disbelief/denial that she couldn't take care of herself. I appreciate your honesty- and want to let you know that you have people in far away places that care.

  5. Thanks for your thoughts and support - I am right aren't I? There have to be limits to the "just lay here and it will all get better" philosophy. The let-in-happen attitude to life in Japan makes me frustrated, that isn't my bossy, interventionist Western way at all.
    I got a firm, clean(ish) pillow under Okaasan's head this morning and removed the wet towels she was sleeping on, I gave her water etc....I've left Yujiro with the old people paddy pants to try and talk to her about, and if she isn't making some effort to get up off the carpet by the time I get back this afternoon - Time for Action.

  6. Very long time reader, first time commenter...

    Back in 2005 after my grandfather passed away suddenly, my grandmother's mental state changed almost overnight. I'm not exactly sure if it was dementia since it all happened so quickly, but she behaved a lot like you describe Okaasan. My parents built a new house so she could move in with them (their old house wasn't big enough) and she also refused a lot of help in regard to bathing herself, cooking for herself, etc.

    It was getting to the point where it was REALLY dangerous because she was doing things like getting up in the middle of the night when my parents were asleep and trying to cook things. My mom was afraid she was going to set the house on fire. But because of feelings of guilt, etc, they weren't willing to get outside help for her.

    One day when my grandma was home with my father while my mom was at work, my grandma fell and hit her head right on the floor. That was kind of the turning point for them and they finally put her in a nursing home. She stayed there for maybe 8 months or so before she passed away from a stroke. She was 84, I think?

    But I see a lot of similarities btwn her and Okaasan.

    I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you, and I really have to hand it to you, because I don't know if I would have the strength and patience to put up with all of that.

    Men have the tendency to ignore things and hope they mend themselves (which of course never happens) so I am fearful that it might take something very drastic such as Okaasan getting hurt for Yujiro to change his mind about outside help. I'm not sure how to get him to realize that, though. Especially in the winter it must be absolutely nerve-wracking when she goes on one of her jaunts about town.

    Have you ever thought about giving him an ultimatum? "Get Okaasan some help or I'm out of here!" or something like that. Maybe he just needs to see that you mean business. I know a lot of men HATE ultimatums, but sometimes they are literally the only thing that can change a situation (at least that's what I've found from my experience of being married to a stubborn Asian man for 8 years...)

  7. Best of luck Oyome-san!
    3 days is far too long to simply leave her. It must be very difficult for Y to accept his mother's deterioration, but unfortunately life is not fair. A visit to the hospital is really in order.

  8. Hi there - long time lurker :-)

    It's a bad combination: Her "just don't eat and lay low" and His "well, she is laying as usual under the kotatsu with the TV on, so she is probably ok...".

    I don't have the family power position (or language skills really) to take control here, and she resists VERY quickly, I remember scenes before when she just curls up in a ball on the floor and whimpers like an animal...
    My friend can plonk her baby face-up on the carpet and whip off his diapers to change him. Can't do that with an old lady....

    I'm home early this afternoon - so my mission is to get Okaasan up and standing and walking into the kitchen.
    We need at least to change the carpet round - where she sits and lays and snacks and pisses is very dirty by now and we need to put down a clean sheet or move carpet 45 degrees.
    If she won't/can't get up - I hope I've got the strength of character to fight for outside help.
    Otherwise - let him go off to ski work tomorrow and then I'LL call the ambulance in his absence? She will fight -probably physically fight - going to hospital, but I expect the ambulance staff are used to that...

    all will be revealed when I finish work and go home later this afternoon and we see what state she is in.
    When I left she was finally sleeping with the cushion I'd given her, flat on her back and looking more relaxed.... be continued...

  9. You poor thing. The stress must be terrible. All the above is spot on. This could be the catalyst to actually start looking at how, when things start to swing too far in the other direction, it's time for something to change.

    Services Ibroil (word verification of the day) ;)

  10. How is it going? Is okaasan any better? Maybe waiting till Y is at work and calling the ambulance yourself might be the best way - but not the fairest. I wish he'd step up. At least if you can get her to hospital and get her looked out then 'professionals' will put the hard word on Y that the current situation isn't working. He doesn't expect you to be chaining her depends and spoon feeding her does he?
    Thinking of you this Friday evening.