Sunday, 13 January 2013


So, how are you today Oyomesan? (as Facebook is now cheerfully demanding of us...)

Me? Oh I'm FINE.< is there a sarcasm smilie? :-()

Gave out huge doses of reality today.
Let the cat out of the bag and whirled it round my head madly.
Walked the elephant right thru the room.

And other bad plays on language.

I told Okaasan she has dementia.
And I hung up the phone on Dear Son and told him to stuff it.

And then I happily babysat for 3 hours. ANYTHING is better than this bloody family.

Hah. Got a LOT of agro to get out here.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Taking a break from doing my taxes, I wander thru the kitchen mid-morning and Okaasan asks if Dear Son is home.
No, back tomorrow night. Anything I can help you with?

Cue: 20 minutes of VERY angry Okaasan telling me exactly why she does NOT want to go to that place in Sumikawa with the hula dance, and the lunch and the hairwashing.
What IS that place? Who are those people? Why is Dear Son spending money to send me there? That teacher is no good. The students just sit around. It is much better that I go and walk myself downtown to exercise. Those two men came here last week and we signed a contract. Why? I don't want to go there!

SO much fury. She was almost shouting. She almost pushed the table to one side in fury. Slammed her hands down.

But you know what. She was clear-headed.

It wasn't the dementia talking.
It was Kazuko, clear and loud, telling me what she wants. Or, rather  - doesn't want.

So. I talked to her. I sat down on the carpet and talked for 20 minutes.
Ok. So that "culture school" is not interesting. But exercise is important in winter, because your body and mind condition declines - so why don't we spend the money on booking a taxi to take you to the subway station regularly? Then you can go and walk downtown, meet your friend in the coffee shop etc.
How about that?
And she agreed. Much better.

I don't want to end up like that old woman across the road, she is senile - she forgot that she asked me to get a bag for her. Exercise is important for brains.

Yes, well that woman does her own garden herself in summer, but in winter she stays home all the time. You too - it's bad for you. You forget many things, you repeat stories many times - Dear Son is worried about you. That's why he thought "culture school" was a good idea.

After 20 minutes I brought her down to calmness.

But instead I had her fury inside me... I booked a taxi to come and get her after lunch. I came over all heavy with a friend on Facebook about her health decisions (SORRY V!!!)... I emailed Dear Son and told him to cancel the Tuesday day care and accept ski work for Tuesday. Let's just accept that now isn't the time for Okaasan to go to Day Care. Later it will be time - we don't want this negativity stopping her when she REALLY has to go etc etc. Just accept for now that the money should go to taxi rides in winter....we all tried, but maybe we have to accept that she isn't ready for it....etc etc etc.

I had lunch with Okaasan. She told me the same I went to healthy cooking school - film star house nearby -  husband came to look- story 8 times.
I had too much emotion boiling inside me.

I TOLD her she'd just told me the same story 8 times.
She asked me: Did I? What, today?
Me: No, now, in the past 15 minutes while you've been eating that food. THIS is why we are worried about you. Your body is healthy, but you memory now is very bad and if you don't exercise it will get worse. It's not just old age, it is worse than that. It's very hard for us to have these repetitive conversations.

Broke every rule in the Dementia Rule Book didn't I?

You are not meant to tell the sufferer they are suffering? Right?
I've done it a few times in exasperation: kind of like when a child is whinening for sweeties at the supermarket check-out and mum says: ok, ok, I hear you, I hear you!!!
But I've never said it to Okaasan as part of a calm, almost-logical conversation.
She was surprised. But agreed that exercise was important to preserve memory ability, and so going to the subway in a taxi is good idea etc. It was actually all very calm and accepting.

Cats and elephants out in the open.

I read blogs of people in America who know they have dementia, I read blogs of carers whose loved-ones know they have it - doing this whole charade thing is exhausting.
Yes, you have a problem. It's ok, we will help you. You are interested in health matters - and you know that walking and eating correctly are important. We agree.
Surely that is right to do?
I don't know. But it's what I did today. And she was surprised, but not bowled over. Is openness better?

Finished lunch.

Then Dear Son phoned Okaasan and told her: you are going to "culture school" next week.

Then Dear Son telephoned and hassled me for getting into this topic with Okaasan.
Told me he will be home tomorrow to make sure she goes to Day Care. No, she is confusing day care places. She MUST go.

Me: NO, I am the person that pushed us all to do this. I am telling you now - I made a mistake. We should accept she doesn't want to go. Taxi is a better use of money. Etc etc etc.

 I put the phone down on him. And switched it off.

Sent Okaasan off in her taxi.
Finished my tax data on the computer and met my Friend with Baby to go downtown.
Surprised her with a ticket to see Le Miserables and kidnapped Cutest Baby in the World for 3 hours of babysitting at the nearby community center.
Sitting with him was SO theraputic. All my anger and stress disappeared. Feeding him yogurt and fruit, exploring the community center from a 1 year old's viewpoint (ooooo!!! locker doors with keys! ooooo!!!! whiteboards with wheeled feet!!) - so relaxing. He's cute. I love him. 3 hours of cuteness. Soothed.

Dear Son calls to apologise. BUT he will try day care again on Tuesday.
Pick up happy Friend from the movie theater and we head home...
Okaasan calls me from the subway station. I tell her to wait. Okaasan and I  ride home together in a taxi.
I cook dinner.
Okaasan and I chat about all sorts of stuff.....she is almost coherent.

It's been a fuck of a day.

Facebook. There isn't enough space in that status update space.
That's why I rant into a blog.


  1. Wow what a day you had! I hope that things calm down somehow. If your husband is back in town, maybe he can go with her on the bus, take pictures the whole time and verify her experiances. But it's hard to force someone to do anything when they don't want to, like you said. Thinking of you. Nancy in Tokyo

  2. I really think that almost everyone with a form of dementia is aware that there are changes in themselves. Just like Okaasan in hiding her soiled undergarments, she is aware there is an issue of some type. Perhaps her surprise is in that YOU noticed she was having issues because she thought she was covering so well.

    I say it's good to get it out and discuss it. I've always been upfront with Hubby, sometimes a little too upfront maybe, about his behaviors. I'm the person that wants to know everything and how to deal with it, he's not.

    I'm glad you were able to get away and have some regrouping time. You're a good friend.

    And you are doing the best you can and know how, even if you feel like your fuse is short,you're still a good daughter in law and wife :)

  3. Thankyou for your supportive comments :-)
    I do wonder, sometimes, if my relationship with Okaasan is getting better - because of all the time she and I are forced to interact. I sit and talk "with" her far more than her own son does, I do all the softcare stuff of morning greetings/laundry delivery/random snack giving...and yesterday's huge burst of angry clarity was my reward. She was able to remember her opinion and express them very clearly to me....Dear Son gets the hamster wheel more. Yesterday she was SO clear about what she wants. I feel we have to respect that.

  4. :( firstly, big hugs and cyber kampais and whatnot. What a shit day. Apart from my grandmother who I saw at a home once while she had alzheimer's I have no experience with dementia other than through your blog. But it sounds like your talk with okaasan went well although I imagine she'll forget when she isn't in a day of clarity. Not so impressed with Y for trying to force you and his mother to do things when you are the primary care giver - hands down. If he's at home and willing to listen to okaasan get so angry about having to go then perhaps thats another story but its not fair on you. You tried it. The timing isn't right and so money will be spent in more happy-for-okaasan way. Sounds like a good plan to me.

    I have three children you can come and look after if you need to escape, although I'm not sure if luantic 3,5 and 6 year olds are as therepeutic as a cuddly one year old but I'm quite happy to give them up for the time it takes for you to discover this :)


  5. Think I'll stick with a 1 year old.....still small enough for me to pick up and drag away from things!

  6. Sometimes being honest is the only way to be heard, and I know you're much more patient than you give yourself credit for. I hope he listens, or that she goes and ends up enjoying it.
    By the way, I've tagged you in a meme, if you'd like to play along (as a bit of light relief, perhaps?)