Monday, 30 September 2013


The chiro says: Okaasan's stomach muscles (??) are very hard and her left ankle seems stiff, and a few other things. But basically - Okaasan was claiming to have no special pain yesterday at 10.30 am - so it was hard to diagnose anything more than that.

And so they came home, we had family lunch, then Okaasan had a sleep, then Dear Son took her for a gentle neighborhood walk and then more sleep, and then she ate a full dinner and criticised Oyomesan's flower arranging skills with the kitchen table roses.
Very feeling fine Okaasan. Haven't seen this Okaasan for weeks and weeks.

To be honest: I wasn't expecting any kind of miracle diagnosis from the chiro. For me it was important to get Dear Son and Okaasan into the mind set that there IS a problem and maybe someone outside can help or advise. The chiro was a pleasant young woman and Okaasan seemed to enjoy the experience.

Okaasan has gradually been improving this week: both physically and mentally.

Who knows.
Maybe it is the do nothing and eat little cure; maybe the I'm the focus-of-lots of attention cure; maybe it's the I'd-better-pull-my-shit-together-before they-put-me-in-a-care-home cure...

Whatever. She is brighter and up off the carpet and connecting with life again.

Her determination to go out alone and walk will be a bit of a problem. She doesn't know how far is too far, and on days we are working till 6 pm we guess we'll be rescuing her around the neighborhood again. And maybe the leg pains will worsen again.

I do still worry about the coming winter and how this is all going to play out into the months and months when she and I are here a deux.

Anyway. After days of stress. An exhausted, but successful Sunday. We were in bed by 8.30 pm. Knackered!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Waiting to exhale................

And THAT my friends - THAT is Okaasan going to see an expert about her own body.
THAT is something worth taking a picture of! :-)

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.....................let it all out. Exhale.

Such a normal thing, every day, in every place in the world: people have something wrong with their body, they go to someone who has training in body problems and they ask for help.
It's like child/school. Or food/kitchen. 
Just one of those normal equations of life.

But to get to this point has been so so long. Enormous struggle. You'd think Dear Son was taking Okaasan to open brain surgery,followed by leg amputation. Not a little bit of massage and muscle checking by a kind woman in a suburban chiropractic place.

Rewind to Friday: Okaasan decided to go for a walk late afternoon. Of course she doesn't know/remember that she hasn't been out alone for a walk for more than 2 weeks. So she gets to the Seicomart store, and has no energy to get back. Dear Son locates her with the GPS and as I am using the car for work he has to bring her back by taxi. (There's a whole mix-up about this between them, but I'll skip that in the interests of your sanity).
He gets her home and we all eat dinner sometime around 8.30 pm.

Saturday morning: I am hassling Dear Son from the moment we are awake to get ON with it. Find a chiro guy and GET Okaasan a booking and TAKE her there. He is getting testy with me, because I am on his case.
"This situation is not finished! Come ON! Stop watching TV and get on it! etc etc etc" I am nagging, he is snapping. We are so happy. Not. He does actually agree that this temporary improvement in Okaasan's condition shouldn't be the end of our efforts, because we've seen this before....he does accept that.

He gets on the computer and finds a local chiro. Makes a reservation for Sunday morning. I sigh with relief. He tells Okaasan that tomorrow she'll go and see someone who is just like the place she went to 20 years ago. She starts resisting, - not pain, not bad, I can heal myself etc etc etc etc etc etc..

THEN we have a cat crises to throw into the mix. Popo-chan has a cut above his eye, so we box him up and carry him yowling to the vets.
We get home, Okaasan is calling Dear Son stressily. She is up and walking round the kitchen: "Look! I can walk! I can walk well! I don't need help! etc etc etc etc"
Dear Son and Okaasan go for a walk to the local supermarket. She gets tired and leg pain, and he brings her home slowly.
We eat lunch.

Throw in another cat crises. The other cat has a similar injury to his eye! What on earth have they been doing? (Beating their heads against brick walls with frustration, like us?)

4 pm. Catch 2nd cat, box him up, transport him yowling to the vets.
Okaasan is sitting up in her room, putting on a jacket and looking like she might go out for another walk......

Saturday  evening. We actually have plans (cancelled before cos of Okaasan) - plans to go down to the city park and enjoy the German-theme beer festival. Drink away out stresses and remember that we are a couple who love eachother, and not just a nagger and nageee.

He preps a dinner for Okaasan. I hide her shoes from the entrance hall, so we hope she won't go out alone for a walk. And we escape.

Sunday morning. With hangovers. Dear Son goes in to tell Okaasan that they are going to the chiro soon. He has to go all thru the rigmarole again of why and why not, and why and so on. Absolutely exhausting.
Not sure if it is worse when she is actually in deep pain and reacts emotionally, or like now, when she has less pain and is reacting with all the reasons she can pluck out of her brain.

From her view: I feel fine. I can walk. I know how to care fotr my body because I studied the great Nishi-guru. WHY am I needing to go a doctor? Why?
From our view: 5 weeks of pain and reduced life, pain and drama. Despite temporary improvements in the condition, it ain't getting better.

I stay away from the discussion. It should be between son and mother. But it is tiring to listen to him trying. He is a master salesman. This is probably his hardest ever job.

And so. They have finally gone. Left the house. Gone to a chiro.

Let's see what happens next.

a) The chiro will say: "My GOD! No, this condition is way beyond what I can do, get theee to a hospital".
b) Okaasan will run away down the street and plead with passersby to adopt her?
c) We will bang our heads against more brick walls, box ourselves up and go yowling to the vets?

d) The chiro lady might...y'know...HELP ease the pain in Okaasan's legs.....

Oh. d). Let it be, pleeese let it be......

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Told you so....

"Okaasan is much better today!" - Dear Son greeted me when I got home from work.
"She ate a big lunch at home with me, she walked around the kitchen smoothly, she chatted to the day center manager and the city office woman - look she's sitting up on her sofa and looking at magazines! so I didn't make an appointment at a massage clinic."

And so she was.
After - how many? - weeks of curled up on the carpet with the TV remote in one hand, hardly eating and walking with agony....there she was - a semblance of the old Okaasan.

Amazing. A bloody miracle.
She wasn't perky, but she came and ate dinner at the kitchen table with us and grunted replies to things, ate all her food, debated having seconds....

Really? Weeks of pain and bad feeling - suddenly all gone?
I didn't believe it. But I let Dear Son prattle on about it.
There was an unspoken "told you so" in the air between us. :-(  Had Okaasan's way really brought success? Do nothing and eat a little? Back in early September she had a week like this - when the leg pain seemed to get a little better and she set out walking alone to local shops. And had to be brought home. Then terrible pain again and housebound.

I felt happy, of course. If it was true. I WANT Okaasan to be mobile and easier to care for in winter.

I also felt - what the f*** - what was all the family fighting and stress in aid of? All that wasted energy.
And I felt cynical. Rheumatism, if that is what it is, suddenly disappears like that?

Anyway, an evening of relief......

The city office staff had come in the afternoon to meet Okaasan and Dear Son, after the new dementia assessment and to talk ongoing care. There had been questions and chat. Okaasan had been walking in the kitchen with little apparent pain: "pain? No, I haven't had feels a little strange, day care? Oh I'll go to that, why not?".....all the weeks of pain have gone from her mind?

At night I dreamt that Okaasan was bobbing round the kitchen table bending her knees, and then scampering up a flight of stairs. This whole topic is even invading my dreams now!

Come this morning.

I gave all the responsibility for Okaasan to Dear Son, while I got ready for work. He took the "we're coming at 9.15 am" call from the day service, and he got Okaasan prepped for going.

She didn't want to go.
Legs hurt. Don't feel good. Going to stay here. Don't want to stand up.
etc etc etc etc

He was crushed. Really crushed. He'd absolutely believed she'd got better.

I was internally triumphant. I told you so. :-)

Probably she'd had a good day - lunch with him and then two visitors who came and chatted to her about her problems - she'd forgotten the pain/ or put on a good public show for the guests. Whichever.

I resolutely stayed out of it while he had the fuss around with the day center driver and Okaasan and more and more chat about pain and legs and a mystery treatment 20 years ago. And some sidebar chat about some woman at day care that Okaasan doesn't like...but she isn't there on Thursdays. Finally HE is there in the room with Okaasan and the day center staff while the whole thing goes round and round in circles. I am upstairs....listening with glee.

They got Okaasan to stand up, get dressed and GO to day care! Helped her down the steps and into the car.
And Dear Son came upstairs, got on the computer and FOUND the 20 years ago treatment clinic in Saitama on Google Maps, found the clinic's website and found that the doctor is only about 60 years old. An e mail has gone to ask him what he did for Okaasan 20 years ago....

And the big mystery treatment?

It's a chiropractor clinic. We have those in Sapporo.

The whole situation has moved on HUGE steps in 24 hours.

Told you so. ;-)

* Good Oyomesan - with Okaasan out of the house finally today I could get into her room and clean. So between 12 and 2 and a class break I rushed home and vacumed, and hunted down underwear and rotting food, and put away newspapers and supermarket flyers.
GOOD Oyomesan.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Amazing! A pro carer at work.

THAT's how to do it!
Patient, gentle voice, little laughs, listening, caring, firm, encouraging....

I've read the books. I know. But I (recently) have been failing on this caring carer style.

Today the day care center staff came and managed Okaasan brilliantly.
But still - in the end - failed.

When they heard on the morning call that she didn't want to go, they offered to come round and talk to her. Great - let them have a go. I tried to bring them up to date with all the non-activity of late...but of course didn't say that tensions in this family have been running kind of...high.

I was getting ready for work and hanging over the second floor stairwell in various states of undress - trying to hear how the professional tackled Okaasan.
Truly amazing.
First she went into Okaasan's room and chatted to her all sympathetically, getting her to describe her pain and what she'd done in the past etc, how much she had studied health etc...
Then she started gently suggesting little bits of activity; why don't you show me your leg/sit on the sofa here/stand up a little/walk into the kitchen etc

So professional. THIS is why I knew we had to get ourselves all taken in by social services and carers. Better for all of us.

I left for work and could here the carer talking about "just come to the center with me for lunch and a where is your towel".....

I'd already put a small lunch for Okaasan on the kitchen table, but it all sounded very positive. So I left.

At work I had one of those Good carer/Bad carer debates in my head.
Good: "If she has gone to day care today, it means I can get into her room mid-afternoon and clean up."
Bad: "I'm so tired of this whole thing, she can just sit with all her trash around her until she finally gets taken off to hospital on a stretcher..."

Came home later and found: Okaasan on the carpet under the table heater...watching TV, the lunch flasks opened and contents eaten, and damp...kind of clean underpants on the table, dirty trousers on the carpet...... center lady failed to get Okaasan out then.
Nice try. Wonderful try.
But not.
Probably couldn't get her to walk down the front door steps.
Hopefully this will spur on the situation for the carers to push Dear Son more on getting help for Okaasan.

And me?
I can't face another dinner with her. I just can't.
All day I was thinking......and now my evening student has cancelled. I could go home now.
But I can't do it. I don't want the stress.
So - when I went home mid-afternoon, I put MORE food on the kitchen table, gave Okaasan a fresh cup of water, left food for the cats - and came away to my working life.
Dear Son is probably working until 8.30 or 9 pm. Okaasan may just sleep and not eat. But she may want to come to the table and eat dinner.
And I don't want to eat with her. I am going to the gym and then having a quiet dinner alone near my classroom. I will slip home later.

Bad, bad Oyomesan (daughter-in-law).

Found this story in the news kind of jumped out at me....for some reason...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Being handled

So - we are all handling eachother.

He is handling me: took me out to dinner, chatted on and on in a friendly, non-confrontational way....said he would try and research WHERE and WHAT KIND of treatment place Okaasan went to 20 years ago in Saitama for a leg condition.
So he started boosting up Google Maps on the computer and clicking along a cherry-tree lined street between a river and a school in the Tokyo suburbs - where once Okaasan had walked and seen a sign and gone in and had some kind of treatment.
I'm not kidding. She doesn't know the name of the treatment. Only that it was good and helped her!!! And it was somewhere between the school gates, and along the river...somewhere..

And he is going along with that as an idea....meanwhile he is trying to get Okaasan to walk around the kitchen table every morning for exercise...

20 years ago in a Japanese street is a long time. The guy doing the treatment has probably died and the land has been sold and new houses have been built.....and Dear Son thinks he is going to find out what kind of treatment Okaasan thought was good. The treatment with no name...

I. Am. Trying. To. Be. Patient.

It's hard.

So I took myself yesterday to this..............

It helped.

The wind and the sunshine and the waves. 3 hours I was out there, trying to release the stress.

But all not helped by the fact that this 3 day holiday weekend Dear Son suddenly had to work. The blind lady, who is a regular bike taxi customer, came to town and he is out at 9 am and back at 8.30 pm or later, helping her with many many requests for sightseeing and shopping.

So. I am alone with Okaasan. And my rage.
Ironic that. 72 hours after shouting at her.
Yesterday I did the minimum: I opened and closed her curtains and windows. I left lunch on the table. I offered her dinner, but she didn't want it.
Today I gave her lunch and sat and let her chat on about her long-ago cooking classes in Tokyo. I went and bought her yogurt and snacks at the supermarket.
I had the usual - will eat/won't eat for dinner...and then finally sat with her for 20 minutes while she played with a bit of soup.

ALMOST got thru it all...was about to get away to my bottle of Chardonnay...

Made the mistake of crossing off "dentist" on the kitchen calender.
"What are you doing?" Okaasan asked.
"Well, I cancelled the dentist for you, it's this Friday, you can't go to Odori for that..."
"Friday? What day is today? Monday? Oh, I can go to that, there is no need to cancel!"
"I don't think so! You haven't been able to get outside this house for 2 weeks,  your legs hurt, I don't think you'll go to Odori in 4 days time..."
"But I've studied this! I've studied bodies and health! Have you? I have! I know how to make my body well!"
Her voice rising in anger. 
Mine too.....

"Ah, yes - and it is going so well, isn't it???!! Five weeks of pain, you haven't been out of the house for 2 weeks now...your way is really good isn't it!!"

Heavy sarcasm. And I walked out of the kitchen before my voice got any nastier.

And so.
We are all handling the situation.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Shouting. Again.

I promised myself that this blog would be honest.
Even if I'm not doing good things.
And i'm not.

Shouted at Okaasan and Dear Son again yesterday.
Full on, in your face shouting with anger and frustration.
Worst thing to do with someone who has dementia. Worst thing to do in Japan, a land of repressed emotions and unspoken communication.

We - well he mainly - tried to get Okaasan to get up, get dressed and come for a short walk to the outside of the house. To give her leg muscles some kind of exercise.
Long struggle with that, mentally and physically. She didn't even want to stand up in her room.
But after 30 mins she had made it to the entrance hall and put on her shoes. She had the new walking stick he'd bought for her.
She got down the step from the front door onto the porch mat.

Then couldn't get down the next 3 steps into the garden.
Couldn't. Wouldn't.
With help, or without it.
Pain, pain, pain.

Returned to the entrance hall chair.

I lost it at that point.
She was going on and on about how 20 years ago it had got better on its own, or some kind of treatment in Saitama had helped it, and it all got she knows her body better than anyone etc etc etc
And I really do mean etc etc etc

And I shouted.
Got the kitchen calender and waved it at her. FIVE Bloody weeks of this and it hasn't got any better. It's got worse. 6 weeks ago you could walk in department stores downtown, two weeks ago you could get to the local McDonald's. Now you can't get out of the house. Next week you can't get to the toilet? Or the kitchen table?

Wasn't a good moment as a human being. Shouting with fury at an old lady, while her son tried to calm me down.

He got her back into the kitchen and got her to walk a few times around the kitchen for the muscle exercise. She was in great pain.

Maybe breakthrough.
OKaasan says that 20 years ago she went to some kind of treatment place near her home in the Tokyo suburbs for a leg problem...and it helped.
I don't know what kind of treatment. Not mainstream medicine. Some kind of massage place?
The important thing is that she believes it helped.

Dear Son got her to agree that if he can find a similar place in Sapporo, maybe it's a good idea to go again.

That IS a breakthrough. That somebody outside this family can maybe help.
I don't care what the treatment is: it can be an old man who waves Japanese fans over the afflicted area and chants, or someone who does things with fireflies - as long as Okaasan thinks that SHE needs someone's help.
It is a step forward.

I've spent two months this year having acupuncture, and I know for many people that is way out beyond the fringe of common sense. So I am open to the possibility of alternative treatments.

Whatever might work. Let's try it, for F*** sake.

HOW he will get her out of the house and into the car to go to treatment...I don't know.

I hope that the treatment guy takes one look at OKaasan's condition, throws the fans away and calls her an ambulance to take her to a mainstream hospital - but of course, that won't happen. Whoever will try fireflies for a bit...and it might work, or not.
I've told Dear Son that in October, after 2 months I am calling in a home doctor. 

And now. I need to take my blood pressure away all of this. The ocean. The forest. Somewhere better than this house.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Breathing gently.

Thankyou for all comments here.
I have calmed down a bit now.

I never knew there was a Home Doctor service in Japan - so that is useful info. We may have to do that. But also, the fact that Dear SON got her to the mental clinic AND that she seemed to think that was for her actually a positive thing.
He CAN get her up and out of the house with enough love and bullying, and I feel if I can get HIM to man up to the situation - then.....

One more thing. I've just looked at this blog and realized - with shock - that it is FIVE weeks now since Okaasan first talked about this leg pain. 
More than a month.
That night the station staff called and she came home by taxi, and we had to carry her into the house on the garden chair.
There was a week when it seemed to get slightly better and she was able to walk down to local shops, and we brought her back.

But 5 weeks.
I thought it was 3.

We've cancelled plans for meeting up and going to a beer garden tonight. He is coming home early and we are going to try and get her walking outside the house a little.
And I am going to try and bring about common sense in this ridiculous family.

5 weeks :-(
I think her knee looks swollen.
Something is not right.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

1 year later dementia level

Is 12/30.
Last year 15/30.

Now, a bit worse. But not "too bad" according to the mental health clinic doc.
Dear Son said he thought it would be worse, he feels Okaasan is worse than a year ago, I feel she is sometimes worse - when she is stressed or tired.

Two points on a pretty vague scale anyway. Remember 3 things, take 7 away from 100, then 5 away from that, name 10 vegetables etc...that kind of interview.
And the doctor said she was worried about Okaasan's leg and what what happen to her mental condition if she stayed inside asleep too much...a warning to Dear Son.

A friend's father was Level 12 - and he was pretty far gone in toilet control, anger at the family, wandering at night. So "12" covers a big area. Okaasan, usually, isn't so bad.

Okaasan was NOT happy about going. Dear Son came back from work mid-afternoon and struggled to get Okaasan up and out.
He told her directly that she was going to a clinic for an annual dementia assessment. She kept mixing that up with a hospital for her painful -leg!!!! "Why am I going, I don't need/want to go, it got better before with no hospital" etc etc etc. On and on and on.
I came home to meet a friend just at the clinic appointment time, and was surprised to find them both still here - getting into the car. Okaasan's face a stony fury.

Dear Son said Okaasan did ok on the maths questions etc - she used to work in an accounts office afterall - but badly on the Remember a List task. And HE, listening to the interview also found himself struggling to remember some things on the list....with slight panic.

In the evening at home. Okaasan angry with us. Ordering us loudly to close curtains and the whole dinner/no dinner scene again. Sigh.

This morning.
Going to day care. NOT going to day care. A level of anger still.
The day care car came.
I HID upstairs, so that Okaasan would be forced to get up off the carpet and walk to the entrance hall and tell the driver herself that she didn't want to go.

"Yesterday my son took me to a hospital for my leg, it hurts still...I don't remember what the doctor said. X-ray? Medicine? Cold pack? Cream? No.....I don't think so. I don't know what the doctor said....look I can't wall, I am just going to sleep here, that's better".

I listened to the whole conversation from upstairs. Listened to the staff try and try to get Okaasan to change her mind and go, asking lots of supportive questions...


* I'm sorry if my response to yesterday's comment by F came over as an attack back at her - it really wasn't meant to be that. I get this question from many people - about Okaasan and doctors - and my head feel hurt. My heart pounds because I get angry at Okaasan and Dear Son.
Next month I am going on holiday to Kyoto. Just me. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Why don't you take Okaasan to a doctor?

I get this question a lot.
From readers on this blog, from friends, from students.
Yes - Okaasan hates doctors and hospitals - but why don't you force her to go, for her own good. She won't be happy, but it's a necessity.

I get it. I DO understand.


This old lady is not a slim person. She probably weighs about 50 kg?
HOW do we physically get her into a hospital?
A child you can pick up, screaming and kicking and you put them in the car, and at the other end you carry them into the building.
Can't do that with an adult.

If we said: "Today you are going to a hospital for your leg pain", she would stay in a ball on the carpet, moaning and crying and holding onto the furniture with her fingernails. If we try to touch her, she would hit us.
If we tricked her into going "somewhere" and then she looked out of the car window and saw a hospital - she would refuse to get out of the car, cry and hold onto the door frames with superhuman strength. And hit us.

It really is that level of reaction. Very strong determination.

We got her to a mental health clinic because it is a small office on a street corner, and the entrance area doesn't have a clear sign - once she is in the reception area she couldn't escape out of politeness to the nurse.
We got her to a dentist because she had terrible pain and couldn't eat anything, and Dear Son finally said "I think you must go".

A hospital with a waiting area  and forms to be filled in, and hours of waiting...would be a whole different ball game.

I think she should go.
Dear Son probably thinks it's easier to wait and see. He is Japanese, it's a great wait-and-see national trait.
I kind of wonder if the day care manager will eventually tell Dear Son that the day care staff think she MUST go to a hospital.

Certainly this morning Okaasan took an age to get out of her room, into the kitchen, into the hallway and down the steps and into the waiting day center car. Ages. All the time getting angry with the staff who was making "hospital is a good idea Kazuko-san" noises.
Kazuko doesn't think so.

To be honest - I get exhausted thinking about it. Why should it be ME who has to push Dear Son and Okaasan into doing the sensible thing? If she is determined to do nothing, and he is prepared to let her do nothing - then good luck to 'em. She can get sicker and weaker and end her life sadly...her choice.
This time last year I fretted myself into action on getting her assessed at a clinic for day care joining. Because they ultimately makes MY life easier in winter. 
If her legs continue to be bad, it will be my problem this winter - but before that Dear Son will have to be cancelling his ski work and staying home to care for his mother.
So - although I am boiling inside about the total lack of action on this leg problem - I am also thinking "bugger it, your stupid choice, you can live with the consequences".

Mentally Okaasan seems ok. Last night at dinner we chatted about public holidays and working people, she told us how she'd worked all days etc etc and she was bright and down memory lane.

Tomorrow - mental health clinic annual check up. That'll be interesting.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The nightly rescue

Every evening - we are rescuing Okaasan from somewhere round the neighborhood, where she has set out for a walk, gone too far and has no energy to get back home with her painful legs.
I guess it's good that she WANTS to go out for a walk.
But it is also waaaay lucky that we come home around 6 pm and can find her with the GPS Ap. on her cell phone, that she goes to the same old places and that the weather is mainly dry and warm....
She got to MacDonalds and the convenience store. We brought her back by car.
At Macdonalds she was actually standing outside and looking hopefully at the road - and said to me when I pulled up: "Oh, I wondered if someone was coming for me!". She is lucky my class finished at 6 pm and that road is on my way home...and I spotted her.

Today she refused to go out with us in the car to go winter coat shopping. Legs too painful. So we escaped and had couple time with a curry lunch and a film festival. Left her lunch in flasks on the kitchen table.
But after we got home, around 4 pm Okaasan announced she WAS ok to go for a walk and off she went. 
About an hour later we used the GPS to check on her location - and found to our surprise that she was apparently only 2 streets away.
Dear Son went to walk her home...and found her two streets away, trying to GO. Still trying to walk away from the house, with a neighbor all concerned about her.
She's gone 100 meters in an hour. And been sitting on a wall talking to the neighbor....

We held her up between us and walked her home. Where she didn't want any dinner.....

And so it goes.
This leg problem is just ongoing. Mixed in with her emotional response to it and the non-eating, when she remembers the pain and feels "it's better not to eat".

I have a sense that this is going to take the whole situation onto a different level - and not a better one. SHE must be in pain and getting frustrated about it. We must get her a stick and hope that she doesn't fall.
On weekends we can take her for a walk, but during the week we usually don't get home till after 6 pm and it is hard to stop her heading out for a walk.
Her dementia means that she isn't using good judgement on her own physical ability.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Getting back on walking track

Okaasan has gone out two days now, walking on her own to the nearby shopping area.
We still worry. Her legs aren't that strong and she gets tired easily.
I tracked her on the GPS with the cell phone and brought her home by car both days.
The first day she was in the convenience store, standing clutching onto the stools in the drinks service area - unable to climb up onto the stool of course. So just standing there. I have no idea how long.
Last night she was in Macdonalds, Sitting with her magazines and an empty box of McNuggets and a cup of ice coffee, while neighboring tables were full of noisy high school groups. Kind of clash of the generations.

But getting better.

A bit of negativity about going to day service this morning: "do I go there in summer too? do they have hula dance there? do I go every week?", 10 minutes before the driver arrived Okaasan was still in pajamas on the carpet while I busied around getting her stuff together.

Tokyo will get the Olympics! Bit of a surprise actually. To everyone.
After enjoying the whole London Olympic thing last year I am very determined to be a volunteer in Tokyo. Gonna take a few months off work, crash the sofa of friends in Tokyo and sweat it out with everyone. Tokyo in July. Oh my god....HOT.
And - to that end. After promising myself in front of many students as witnesses - I will restart Japanese language study. Got to get the formal language better. Got to get the reading level better.
I tried to volunteer for the Nordic Ski World Cup a few years back but got seriously panicked by all the information packs with Do's and Don'ts, I couldn't read it. And realised I wouldn't be a big help as a volunteer. Japan LOVES to make extensive written information before something happens, telling you far too much when all you will do is stand at a door and take tickets or check I need to have better reading skills by the time the Japanese Olympic Committee start stuffing up my mailbox.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Spamming glory

Spam writing is usually pretty mundane, but this morning's offering is so...what's the word...friendly! I may have to Approve it, just to encourage more....

I love to follow your articles and blogs a lot and with bated breath every time I keep waiting for your next write-ups. Your article on buy green tea is simply awesome. I have not only bought green tea but havealso experienced its benefits. I have lost a lot of weight and I just can’t stop dancing around with joy. Thanks a lot. 

That's because yesterday's blog mentioned g------- t ------ in passing. A recent mention of d_n_i_st also got a flurry of spam telling me about oral hygiene treatments in Florida.

Yesterday Dear Son stayed away from work, still feeling less that 100%. He took Okaasan for a gentle walk in the neighborhood.
She could walk without clutching onto him or things, but got tired only 5 minutes from the house and they had to come back. 
He said her legs were pretty weak. Two weeks basically doing not a lot. We will have to get her out and walking a little bit every day.
Only 3 weeks ago she was taking the subway downtown and walking for hours round and round the shops. A bout of rheumatism and inactivity and she gets like this.

* Today's smile.
Back in the early summer I was offered 3 hours work as a model for a wedding hall company. This week the brochure was published....38 pages of breathless prose and fairytale pix...and on page 36 the happy family 'We just become (sic) a family. Full of warmest heart".

Mother of the this picture I AM "Okaasan"!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Down, but not out...

If you are eating while blog surfing - maybe give this one a skip til you're finished.

Had a toilet crises at home yesterday, not Okaasan, not me, not cats...Dear Son.
In a blog which has shown you a plate of bloody ovaries and pictures of old lady's panties - there isn't much NOT to show or discuss here, but as I think some of Dear Son's old friends are readers, I will try (not too hard!) to preserve his dignity.

He had awful pains in the toilet yesterday morning, at first I thought it was just male whingeing about the details of his bodily I continued watching Friends on Tv and playing with cats.
By the time he was pleading with me to go and buy enemas at an early-morning open drug store - twice - I realised something, maybe, was wrong.
He was groaning and carrying on in the toilet and up and down the stairs.....and I was trying to get Okaasan ready to go to daycare.
(Yes! She was happy to go!! Progress!)

Of course, VERY important to keep her ignorant of the crisis in the toilet, otherwise she would be right in there offering him advice about don't-eat-for-a-week and I picked up a trash bag of beer cans and cat food cans - noisily shaking them in my hand while getting Okaasan out of her room, past the toilet door and into the house entrance hall.The sound of the cans drowned out the man-agony behind the toilet door.
Day care came and whisked her away safely, for a day of ballroom dance, bath and hair wash.

And I locked the front door and attended to the a-hole that I share my life with.
No luck.

MY work departure was looming and he was still in distress.
He called an ambulance.
Three guys in light blue plastic macks and white helmets arrived - maybe taking time out from Fukushima cleanup operations - and there was lots of advice and chat. And then Dear Son was taken away by ambulance!!!

A shock. I'm writing it funny here, because it was...looking back. At the time not.
I live with a 54 year old Peter Pan, who skis and bike rides and drinks and eats with no care in the world. This whimpering poor guy was a stranger.

I had to go teach for 90 mins. Plastered on a smile on my face and a cheerful manner.
Then rushed to the hospital at lunchtime. My old ovaries operation hospital.
Dear Son was on an IV drip awaiting results from blood tests and an X-ray.
I cancelled my afternoon of work and we waited...and waited.

All clear on the tests, apart from high cholesterol, and no signs of cancer or internal obstructions.
Go home and drink medicine. Eat more fruit and veggies. Drink water. Exercise. Be careful. Come back in 2 weeks.

We got home mid-afternoon and he was exhausted. I had to clean up the toilet and kitchen from the panic of the morning.

In the evening he wanted to eat the veggie dinner I was cooking, but not WITH Okaasan. First time he has chickened out of having to sit across the table from her. I've done it several times. When you are feel bad, it's hard to sit and think up chat to fill out the eating time with her. She just eats and reacts...sometimes. Meals with Okaasan are just hard work really, not a pleasure.
I could understand his need to avoid that.

So I told her a big white lie that he had to eat upstairs because our computer had a big problem and he needed to be near it...then she and I ate downstairs and he ate peacefully upstairs.
Okaasan chatted to me about Korean food, the Tokyo restaurant story - but the JTB guide in New York and "best food in the world" story has been lost forever.

Along day.
Big shock.
I am still not convinced Dear Son's problem is "nothing". This man never has any problems of this kind. Usually the opposite. With that charming male habit of sharing every single little toilet information - I know he is a down the hatch and shoot it out kinda guy.
So I am pressing him to go and have an internal camera.
Since MY health scare I am much more proactive on the topic. He should be too.

And why does this sorry little tale have a place in this blog? Apart from giving us all a few sniggers?
Well, in the midst of it all I was thinking:"Shit! If he is really ill and in hospital etc, I will be landed with Okaasan full time - of course with day care support, but oh Shit!".
Selfish. That's me.

It is a factor, always in my mind. That if something happens to him - what will happen with Okaasan? I will care for her a while, but ultimately I don't feel longterm responsibility for her. She will have to be shipped back to the family in Saitama - the useless son, or her brother's family. Somebody.

So. A stressed day.

* Okaasan needs to go and have the annual dementia assessment by the end of October. This isn't the quick visit in the kitchen that the ward office care manager does, this is actually a 45 min. appraisal interview at the mental health clinic.
Draw a clock - tell me the date - remember 5 things on this list, kind of an interview.

Is Okaasan worse than a year ago?
Sometimes I think yes.
The random strange questions or statements are more common now. Some of the old stories have vanished. The personal care such as hairbrushing or clothes choosing has got weaker, and she isn't doing much laundry now. The staring at the TV shopping channel and weather data is more.
In fact - you can (and I do almost every day!) - change her TV channel from behind her with the remote and she doesn't notice. In the morning I use our remote control to flick Okaasan's TV away from mind numbing shopping and weather onto slightly less-mind numbing Japanese morning Tv shows. It's  away of getting to to sit up and wake up - to start the day.

Good things: But she is still walking independently outside ok (but not for 2 weeks with the rheumatism now), still participating in conversations that interest her, still trying to help by taking in laundry from the garden and aware of who we are etc.

It will be interesting to see what the doc thinks.

As winter approaches...yes winter....Dear Son casually mentioned the other day that he has got his first ski teaching job booked from one of the big resorts - 20 days of ski teaching work.
THAT translates into 20 days of Okaasan and Me......20 days.
This year must be a little easier, because we have sort of decided to keep the old car for winter use - so he will take that skiing and I will keep the new car for driving from work to the supermarket - to home - to work - to home - to the vets - to the supermarket- to home - to the madhouse.....

Winter approaches.......groan.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Back to day care :-)

Okaasan returned to day care yesterday.
After a few seconds of negativity, she changed her mind when she was reminded that the day care people come with a car to the house and pick her up to take her there - and up off the carpet she got, getting dressed and getting her stuff together for a bath etc.
Off she went! :-)

Excellent. It means her leg pains have subsided for now and it means that she is basically positive about the day care place.

Upcoming events: another trip to the dentist AND the annual mental health assessment. By the end of October Okaasan has to go back to the mental health clinic and be checked again - to see if the dementia is increasing or stationary.
Is it really almost a year since I summoned every persuasive power I possess to get Dear Son to take action and get her assessed? Apparently, yes.

Onwards, onwards....

Monday, 2 September 2013

Hobbling onwards

Slight improvement on the legs.
We took Okaasan out in the car yesterday to a local noodles restaurant.
She could get dressed fairly ok, and get down the steps outside the front door unaided, and hobble to the car - grasping anything that came to hand like bicycles, the fence, the wall...

Same at the restaurant - with reassuring hand spots she could get along.

Still NOT safe enough to go off walking alone, but better than last week.

Which of course, she doesn't remember. That is the scary thing - she doesn't have a sense that she should take it easy. We worry she will try to set out for a walk alone (while we are at work).
Hopefully today will be rainy and she won't try. And tomorrow is another day center day - and we'll try to get her enthusiastic about that.

So, maybe for now - this legs crisis has passed. But will certainly come back. 
The strongest point about Okaasan and her health is that she walks and likes walking, so this week of pain and inability was a wake-up call to the risk that this situation can change. And then managing her gets much harder.

Meanwhile: a cheerful story.
On one of OUR morning walks recently we found an example of super sunflower power - a plant that grew from a seed that fell at the bottom of an electricity pole.
And grew.
And grew.
The people living in the street helped support it with cord. And now it is in all its glory.