Sunday, 18 March 2012

And so.....

We had The Talk.

Just now, in the half dark of her living room, both of us kneeling on the carpet among the newspapers and socks.

No big drama. Just a quiet, gentle woman-to-woman conversation.

I've given her the pink box full of pads and diapers.

I doubt she'll use them. Yet.
I guess it'll be the start of a never-ending by day..Chinese torture style. For me, and for her.
Stepping over the personal border of polite Oyomesan into nagging about toilet pads nurse.

Today Okaasan says her leg feels bad again. She's having problems standing up. Didn't eat dinner. Feeling low and sorry for herself. I couldn't make my conversation Tough Love as planned, it was just a quiet conversation.

"Maybe you could use these if you can't get to the toilet tonight, sometimes recently you have problems at night don't you? Yujiro can't talk to you about this, so just between us, my parents had the same problems, when people get into their 80s your toilet control muscles are weaker aren't they....etc etc"

She said: I can stand up if I start thinking about it soon enough. I don't need pads and things yet. I don't have a problem. 
But she looked so sad, and lay her head against the side of the sofa.

It IS sad. I dread being like this. I saw my mother brought down and dependent by cancer, I saw my step-mum losing all control over her toilet functions as she stood is a sad point of life to get to.

Okaasan stayed home all weekend: that's probably why her leg muscles are feeling bad. She should have gone out yesterday in the semi-warm - but she slept thru the afternoon and by the time she was awake the day had turned icy again. Today was just cold and snowy.

I've stayed home all weekend to and buttered her up in preparation for The Talk.
I cooked, I chatted, I made her cocoa, I even found an old photograph of her husband's memorial ceremony lunch 10 years ago (when I got introduced to the family)...predictably, in an almost textbook dementia conversation, she talked about people in the picture as if it were 50 years ago...saying it was her FATHER'S memorial ceremony and not recognising the grey-haired woman in the picture as herself.

And the Frozen Panties? They are still outside in the garden shed because tonight's "chance" for The Talk suddenly presented itself.
I think there'll be a wet stained floor under the carpet again tomorrow.
No need for defrosting the panties.



  1. I am there with you....this is a really hard conversation to have. I know for you that you want to give her the tools to make things less messy for everyone and for her she doesn't want to be a burden and at the same time doesn't want to face the fact that she has lost control of one of the most basic biological functions.
    When our Ba-chan was still at home we were somewhat successful with pads and diapers, but I often had to deal with the mess of her trying to handwash and line dry them and also her washing them in the washing machine. It worked somedays and didn't other days....I remember similar conversations and the sadness- the only saving grace was that ba-chan often didn't remember the next day.
    I really empathize with you- it is so difficult to navigate the grey area between facilitating independence and the practicality of hygiene and safety.

  2. I think the "don't want to be a bother" feeling is SO strong. Of course, that's a great attitude and it keeps you independent in life...but it can also block you from recognising and accepting that help is at hand.
    I'm like this too - an "I can do it myself" type of woman - and I fear I will be JUST like this when I am 80.
    Where did you PUT the pads/diapers etc? Did she put them on herself? At the moment they are hiding round the corner of the sofa...but I think I should put them in the area where she changes her clothes - along with the pink top trash box.