Tuesday, 30 April 2013

3 am Pants Patrol

3 am is not a good time to be doing anything.
DON'T send an over-honest e mail you wrote at 3 a.m.
DON'T tell bestie of the opposite sex your secret crush at 3 a.m.
DON'T get out the credit card for TV shopping at 3 a.m.

DON'T wrangle dirty underpants off your Okaasan in the kitchen at 3 am either.

Sometimes (often) I just go back to square one on sensitive, Okaasan-caring. I should shoot me.

3 am and up with a full bladder, headcold blaghhhs and noisy cats.
Okaasan already in the toilet fuffing around. I fuff around in the kitchen, killing time...until she finally emerges and crosses back to her room - clutching presumably soiled underpants in her hand.

Micro-managing Oyomesan leaps into action: "Give me those! Yes those! Don't take them into your room! You'll forget them and I am always coming into your room and finding dirty underpants! let's put them in the laundry basket right now!"

Okaasan dropped the underpants on the nearest bookshelf and stared at her empty hand.

THEN she stared at MY hand as I whipped out my teeth night guard protector in order to repeat all of the above without the lisp.

And I got the underpants off her and triumphantly threw them in the laundry basket, piled loads of other stuff on top and marched to the toilet.

3 am. A bad time to be doing anything involving judgement.

It's so easy to go into her room and find the dirty laundry when she is out (or in the toilet). WTFS did I need to make a thing out of taking them off her like that?

But better...

* Okaasan actually asked for my help in trying to find her remote control and clear up her desk and carpet space last night. She was sitting with the TV shopping channel selling cement wall water blasters at Y9,999...sitting there ALL the time I was making dinner with the same channel on the TV.
The mean side of me was waiting to see how long she would watch pointless TV before changing channels. She'd watched from cement wall cleaners, thru high hedge trimers to BBQ stand extras....45 mins without changing channel.
Mean, I know. Research....

Then I put my head round the door to give her the 5-Minutes-to-Food alert and she asked me into her room to look for the remote under all the papers and stuff....
"I'm getting very forgetful, like the woman I found once in the street near my house - she didn't know where she lived, I took her to the police box...I'm getting like her..".

and even better :-)

An old man fell smack face first in the street outside our house 2 days ago. I rushed down to help him, he had just the same face and hand injuries as Okaasan. But he was okay and quickly staggered off in the rain.
He came round yesterday with a bag of Mitsukoshi (THE posh department store) meats for me as a thankyou gift! Hamburgers! Steaks! Meat for the foreigner!!!

Public holidays...cold, grey, wet weather...and I have an ongoing headcold.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Day Care X 2???????!!!!

Day care - plus plus.

Wish I could bring you the blow by blow on this one, but I had to go to work...and it all happened in my absence.

The day care manager and case worker came yesterday for a Kitchen Summit with Okaasan and Dear Son.

They proposed that Okaasan should go to day care TWICE a week from next month! Wow! We thought they were going to suggest and extra two days, but they went for the full doubling up.
It would be hula dance and ballroom dance and the other days of stretch exercises etc. Plus the usual bath, hair wash and lunch.

Dear Son told me that Okaasan wasn't greatly enthusiastic about it - am I still going there? Twice a week? Why am I going there? Yes, it's fun...but....

But she didn't stand a chance against the combined will of 3 people. She signed the contract and maybe this will start next month.


I'm surprised actually. I was grateful for once a week - and it has made a huge difference to her mental and physical condition this winter. Somewhere to go, people to talk to, stimulation away from the TV and folding up bits of old newspaper to make bag filling (Okaasan's endless habit).
But I thought her condition probably didn't qualify her for more than once a week for now - plus the fact that she lives with family and has such stimulating conversations with us.
Recently everything we talk about she connects with wartime - whether it is Dear Son's childhood in the early 1960's or honeymooning couples in the 1980's - she talks about anything and relates it to: "Well, that was just after the war, so..."

But day care twice a week Great! IF - BIG "IF" - we can get her to go....yoohooo!!

* Last night we watched another program in the recent history in Japan home videos program. There was one of a family with their demented granny - she was throwing food around, manhandling the cat and trying to bite people while they dressed her....Dear Son and I watched in silence and wondered...is that all ahead of us? The aggression? The acting out?
Okaasan on bad days has been verbally agressive with us - I can't imagine her trying to bite us.
Who knows?

Public holidays in Japan now. And I'm home with a cold.
I may not make it out of pajamas today..

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Slow recovery

Okaasan not as good as we (and she) thought.
Monday night at dinner she looked really down and sad. Ate a little.
By Tuesday morning the lip had swollen to orangatan-size and she looked strained around the eyes.
Even asked me to open the curtains in her room etc and sat slumped against the sofa looking defeated by life.
When she has pain it is so obvious. Her whole body shows it.
We cancelled the day care trip and let her be during the day.

Late afternoon though I got her out for a walk and Tuesday evening she was back at the table eating again with some energy.

Apart from the dementia, just being 83 means that the knocks of life - and a full-face fall is a big knock - set you a little back and back.
Shame she missed a day care trip, but at least the weather is better so she can get out and walk herself.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Up and out!

Okaasan seems fine - amazed us today by going out for a walk - in fact going down town to her fave coffee shop etc I felt sure she wouldn't want to go out with a big scar on her lip and bruised hands. But no - she was up and out by 3.30 pm

Had a toilet accident of the brown kind when she came home, finally came out of the toilet and let Dear Son clean up the mat etc for her and allowed herself to be ordered to take a shower.
I'm thinking that maybe daycare would like to try and get talking to Okaasan about wearing diapers - at least at night - because the toilet accidents seem to be on the increase. I tried a year ago to get into this topic...and failed. Maybe professional strangers would fare better?

She only ate a bowl of rice at lunchtime - didn't appear to want dinner...so we went for some couple time out for meat on sticks...came home and found her standing in the kitchen helping herself to cooked-earlier rice and mixing it up with hot water...and then cold leftover chilli tofu....

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A fall

Okaasan fell in the street today - cut and bruised her hands badly.
A woman who lived nearby saw it and walked her home.
We guess she is ok - but will watch her carefully for the next few days to see if there is any other injury or effect.

Been another week - shows you how much I am getting used to this life that I don't blog about it all!

Even when I went to the toilet early morning and stepped into something wet in the hallway...realised Okaasan had got up in the night and failed to make it to the toilet in time - a trail of pee across the kitchen, hallway and into the toilet.
Luckily we have carpet tiles in the kitchen that can be take up and washed, and the hallway can be mopped.

And later in the week was day care and ballroom dancing. Okaasan went off happily enough to it. She is tired and hungry when she comes back - Yujiro found her in the kitchen trying to cook fried rice at 5.30 pm. But the report the staff make on Okaasan continues to say she appears to be enjoying it - dancing with the teacher, playing some kind of ball catch game, exercising with other people.
Strange - Okaasan SAYS to us that she is there is only one other member in the hula and the ballroom dance class. Sounds a little odd. Can't believe a teacher would come in only for two students...

Anyway - MY week was good because Dear Son was in housewife mode. Shopping, cooking, chatting to Okaasan when I had evening classes.
I just led an ordinary life.....after a looong winter. Nice.

He will start his summer bike taxi job soon, so I'm enjoying having a full-time wife at the moment.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Family time.

We played Happy Family at the weekend.
Took Okaasan downtown in the car, delivered her to the hair salon and then 2 hours later picked up an amazingly transformed, classy-cut lady and took her to dinner in a department store.

Haircut SO improves Okaasan. Probably inside the head, as well as out.

When we go out with her the little Okaasan-isms are there all the time : the constant checking questions, the ready-way-ahead-of-time, the clothing oddities ("I need to take my toweling dress to the hair salon to wear OVER my blouse and pants, in case it is cold") and the ramdom comments about things glimpsed from the car.
But she was happy. It all wasn't too stressful for us. Mission Accomplished.

Random bits here too:

# Day car manager came for a regular meeting last week, and Okaasan appeared to agree that she would like to go to the center TWICE a week. We doubt that was a real, understood decision. Probably just being polite and agreeing with a visitor.
I find it interesting that she actually qualifies for two days a week - I thought it was only once a week. Maybe they start everyone at one and try to increase it? Would be wonderful if she'd go.....we'll see if she continues at once a week in April and whether twice in May is doable.

#WE just bought a DVD player for Okaasan's TV. We've just recorded and watched a great program about amateur videos shot in Japan between 1946-1960 - ordinary life and big events - and we think Okaasan would LOVE to see this program (and others like it). Japanese TV is recently waking up to the fact that increasing numbers of viewers are oldies and want nostalgia programs...so now there are more and more about old singers, reruns of old dramas and the like.
Okaasan stares at the TV all day - often TV shopping and the weather channel (when she presses the wrong button on the remote), the DVD player would mean we could show her programs we think she'd enjoy.

And, in another family...

:-)  I had lunch with an old colleague last week - who has been caring for her dementia-suffering mother alone for years. Now mum is finally in care.
I asked what had finally forced her to use full-time care. Did something happen? Mum had a meltdown? Violence?
"Yes, my blood pressure went way up!".......

:-( But less smiley face. The same friend said that recently her mother's face looks unhappy when one care center staff enters the room, and finally the other day mum managed to get out the word "bullying"...now she is worried what is happening to her mum and the other old residents when family members are not around. She is going to leave a secret recording device next to mum's bed.

Okaasan is SO lucky to be with Dear Son and his amazing girlfriend.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wasn't this just winter?

She remembers :-(
As we chivvied Okaasan along to get ready for hula dance yesterday...there was an initial "didn't I quit Hula?" - which we easily overrode with reassurances...and then a few minutes later:
"I thought I was only doing this in winter, is it still continuing?".
We overrode THAT too, with "oh, but it's fun, you enjoy dance don't you?"....and she got ready to go. With help. Stuffing countless pairs of pants in the bag and trying to select a T-shirt with the coat in the other hand.


We overrode her thoughts pretty easily this time, but I'm disappointed that the thought was there.
Of course, it doesn't matter really if she wants to stop going - but it would be SO much better if she continued dance and day care, and going somewhere and talking to people once a week.
In spring to autumn Okaasan goes out walking every day, so we aren't worried about the physical exercise, but of course the day care is the mental/social exercise too.
And if she quit now, it might be a struggle to get her going again next winter.


Hmm.. Hoping.
We got her ready and off she went for hula. Came home tired, but happy. Apparently.
Maybe it was just a knee-jerk negative response to being dug up out of early-morning snoozing. Maybe not a considered opinion.
Hope not.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Spling has splung.

"Spling" as a hair salon near me has announced - is here finally in Sapporo.
Dirty piles of snow are melting, the streets are almost walkable in normal shoes and even the garden is beginning to appear.
Time for one more ski this weekend?

He is home and our life is quietly normal. I'm having a quiet week at work too, so I go to the gym, go home, catch up on e mails to friends, actually read the newspaper....

Okaasan went off to day care and ballroom dancing, without a peep of protest.
Said "It was fun", when she came home.

I wonder; how much longer will she agree to go?
When we were all trying to push her into the terrible idea we argued: "the roads are bad in winter, you can't walk, so this is good winter exercise....".
Now the roads are better and better. Will she announce that she doesn't want to go? Will the enjoyment of the dance and (maybe) the other people be strong enough to keep her positive about the experience?
Soooooo hope so.

At dinner after day care Dear Son asked her if she had enjoyed it. She said she had.
And that was it. Usually you would offer some piece of information about that experience - but Okaasan offers nothing. No comments about the lunch at the center, the flowers, the other people, the dance class.
I think she knows she went there - probably the actual details of the day are a fog.

So. Fingers crossed that she will continue going.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

End in sight

Tonight - another 12 days of solo Oyomesanning will be finished. I hope.
The last big ski instructing job of the season ends and he'll be home.
Okaasan is drifting along in her days. Chatting to me at dinner times. Going for walks when I tell her it is ok. Eating her delivered lunchboxes. Washing plates...sometimes.
Snug under the new heated table.

I spent a relaxed weekend. Lots of pleasure, food and sleep.
Ready for a new week.

But ready for him to come home and share this job.