How will I know I have dementia?
(middle aged and elderly students are often asking me this...)
Answer # 23,894
"When your family and friends are wailing and knashing their teeth, tearing at their clothes and dashing babes to the ground because you f####ed up yet another arrangement with them."
Okaasan decided she could go to the dentist alone yesterday.
Fine. Independent. Can do personality. I'm not a child etc etc
But. She didn't tell me.
I'm standing at the subway station, checking the clock, fretting and wailing/knashing/tearing/dashing.
Dentist Day III all on course for success at the start - whiteboard notice on the kitchen table: "Today you have a dentist appointment, meet Dear Oyomesan at the subway at 3.30 pm to go together". Maybe today I will give her the money to pay for the treatment herself - check to see if she understands the location etc Maybe next week she could go alone? If we just phone beforehand to check she is awake? Maybe.
I go off to work. Classes.
Afternoon. Have a little mix up with a student who comes 30 minutes late for the 1-3 pm class, so I have to finish class early to go get ready for Dentist trip.
At 3.05 pm as I am leaving the classroom I call Okaasan to check she is awake and coming to meet me.
"Yes, yes - I am leaving now!"
"Okay, XXX Station at 3.30 see you!"
From the station near work I jump on the subway - go one stop to our near home station and wait inside the ticket gate.Wait.
3.20......3.30...3.35...3.40....hmmm....how long can it possibly take her to walk from the house here?
I call Dear Son. He checks on his mobile phone with the GPS tracking ...and finds Okaasan already downtown...................
Cue lots of frantic phone calls to and fro about dentist payment and checking and next appointments etc etc. Dear Son locates Okaasan and makes sure she gets to the dentist (luckily he was downtown and between bike taxi jobs)....I do headless chicken thing for a bit and then go to the gym to let off fury, go home with a packed dinner for Okaasan, feed the cats and leave home again.
I didn't trust myself to be able to have dinner alone with Okaasan ( he was working late), too much gyaaaghhh inside me, threatening to spill all over the dinner table and spark a row. Not meant to take out fury on dementia sufferer, know that, know that...but.... so SO need to get away from all of this
Need a movie and dinner out alone.
Came home and Okaasan was asleep. End of day.
Was it MY mistake? Did she say on the phonecall: "I am going by myself" - I can't be 100% sure, because my Japanese isn't perfect. But I know she said "yes, yes" when I reminded her of the meeting time and place...so I am 95% confident it wasn't my F### up. There is always a slight fog on the field of communication between Okaasan and Me, but I am 95% sure this time it wasn't that.
I'm guessing that sometime in the afternoon in the kitchen she saw the note about the dentist appointment and decided: I don't need to be taken to that, I can go there myself.
And in her mind that decision was somehow already communicated to me...specially when I phoned. She thought she had told me this. But I'm pretty sure the decision wasn't communicated to me. Cue confusion and confusion.
Yesterday I said that it was a Good Thing that Yuka's mom didn't realize that she'd been away for a week from the house. She felt that her daughter was there, so didn't worry.
But the Bad Thing of this same internal dialogue is that dementia makes you think you've communicated with someone, because YOU have had the thought - so you go on your merry way leaving a trail of wailing and knashing behind you.
I try the same thing with Johnny Depp - I think about undressing him and covering him with chocolate - and I am sure he is understanding the message and will pop over real soon with a bar of Dairy Milk.
### But let's stay positive. Otherwise my ovaries will multiply and explode under stress...yesterday showed us that actually Okaasan DOES know the way to the dentist and can get there alone. The coaching about the location of the dentist (opposite hotel, Exit No. 5, this building, 9th floor etc).
Next week - I am staying well out of it. Way, way, waaay out of it.