Friday, 31 May 2013

Keeping track of injuries...

Okaasan made it daycare yesterday - with a bit of persuading from Dear Son.
A day of no-dance, just a bath and gentle exercises.
We told the day care staff about the "slip-fall", so they could check Okaasan's body when she was having a bath and see if there was apparently any worse injuries.
I had it in mind that we'd get a call mid-morning from them telling is they'd discovered far worse injuries beneath her clothing. But luckily no.

Okaasan heard us telling them about the "slip-fall" -
"I bruised" she said, touching her face....which was the cut/bruise place about 3-4 weeks ago. Hard to keep them all in order really!

But good she went to the center again, and she seems to enjoy it. After all the struggles to GET her going, it is of course a positive thing in her life. And ours.

Cherry blossom season has arrived where I live...gorgeous..

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Truth will...out...maybe...

Okaasan has been tired recently.
We first noticed it at our family walk round a city park, when the lady who often spends several hours walking round shops downtown seemed tired after a short stroll.
Then last week there was the strange story about going to an ears, nose, throat hospital again and the aybe connected tooth ache...which seemed to get better again. I am due to go to the dentist soon and I think I'll take Okaasan with me for a check this week or next.

And this Sunday evening, she told us an old leg injury/pain had come back again and she felt tired in the legs.
"Did you fall down?"
"No! I didn't fall, it's an old problem....I won't eat any dinner, it'll get better".

And so we left her.
She was getting up off the carpet and going to the bathroom ok, getting herself a cup of water etc. Didn't seem a big deal.
Monday she took herself out to the local MacDonald's for a coffee and a magazine read. Called to be picked up in the car....legs feel tired....

This morning was hula day at day care. We didn't think she'd go.
At 7 am - "yes, I'm going...what time is the car coming?"
At 8.30 am - "I'm not going. My leg is tired. I slipped and hurt my leg...."

"?????????? you slipped? When? But you said you didn't fall!"
"I didn't fall. I slipped.The ground was rough in the street, I slipped..."
"Slipped. Fall. Same thing really. You were on the ground, not standing up.!!"

She peeled back her pajamas and I could see a bit of a bruise on her hip....not a big injury, but maybe now beginning to feel sore.

Cancel day care again.

It really IS a lesson for us in how me must keep asking the checking questions with Okaasan. She may not remember clearly just after something has happened, and her talking about it may connect to something way back in her memory - not to something that happened this week.
We guess she slipped and FELL on Sunday between 3 and 6 pm on that trip out.
Probably on Sunday night she didn't have much pain and just had a vague memory of something to do with her legs - and told us "old leg problem".
On Monday she felt ok enough to go walking.
Monday night the bruise was coming thru and it felt sore.

Finally Tuesday we get to hear what happened 2 days ago - not that she hid the fact from us, but didn't clearly remember herself.
"Slipped" isn't "fall" in her mind. Slip is something accidental and slight.
My dear Dad used to do similar things with all the accidents he had in his car in later years - the way he told it: the car park barriers of Britain were rising up and conspiring to hit him at every opportunity. It was never HIS driving fault.

So. Okaasan. Feeling a bit rough this week.
We have to keep asking her, asking her and asking her again - to try and get the truth out.

** ...oh...and yes? Last week spare ribs at the newly opened Tony Roma's in Sapporo....oh yeeeees!

......and....coming next year to this Dear Son and Oyomesan escape this life to run away to Brazil to see the FIFA World Cup.
He is the biggest Brazilian soccer fan in Japan. Probably in Asia. I got all fired up at the Olympics in London last year. We are starting to talk in real terms about how and if we could go to Brazil next summer to see it all - once in a life time thing etc.


A LOT to think about and plan around.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Teething problems?

Okaasan has tooth problems again?
Refused to go to day care yesterday, didn't eat much again...complaining about hurting tooth or gums.

May explain why she was so bad tempered at the tasteless-soup dinner the other night.
But I shan't accept THAT excuse, cos I am a heartless woman....

Hmm...we may have to book the dentist for a trip again.
And yes, it may explain the strange talk about Ear, Nose, Throat doctor recently....she was trying to verbalise a pain in her mouth....

Friday - I so need a weekend :-)
And tonight we are heading to try OUR teeth out on Tony Roma's famous rack of's just opened a branch in Sapporo and I am going to eat every rib they have in the kitchen.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Shouting...again :-(

That's me.
Shouting at Okaasan in fury again.

Not a proud moment as carer.

Why? Oh, you know...the old cooking and the Japanese family reaction to it. Cultural differences about how you react to food that somebody else has made for you. Salt.

End of a loong day with 6 classes, I was home happily to have dinner with family. He was heating up my homemade chicken soup - asked me to taste it and check it was ok to serve.
YUM! Perfect.
Got myself some wine. Bowl of chicken soup...settle down to eat.

Okaasan says sourly "this has no taste, where is the salt"...and then after being given it...count 1, 2, 3....34, 35, 36....."this has no taste, I need salt" and repeat....

Once would be bad. Rude in my books. Better a gentle, "hmm, I think I need more salt" or a jokey response. Not this sour voice complaint.
But two and then three times and the atmosphere round the table was going into danger zone.

I jumped up and gave her and earful:"YOU are being rude! In England in a family you don't complian to the cook like this, you quietly add more salt, you don't use this kind of voice, YOU are rude!!!I've had a hard day at work today, I don't need to hear this at my dinner time!" etc etc

I think I repeated myself about three times too.

Then scooped up my soup bowl, salad plate and wine glass...and glasses and stormed out upstairs to eat alone in front of the TV. Joined 10 minutes later by a placating Dear Son.

Not a good evening.
The trouble is that isn't just the dementia - the repeating it IS the dementia. The sour voice and the lack of concern for the sensitivity of others.
But the actual direct complaint is just Japanese. In a family situation - you can say what you like? 20 years ago - way before dementia - Okaasan would probably have said the same thing to a younger family member: "this soup has no taste, it needs salt".
But layer on some dementia and it becomes a sour faced, repeated complaint.


Must. Try. Harder. Must.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Too much?

Two days a week day care is too much? Maybe.
Okaasan very tired when she came home yesterday. It wasn't a dance day at day care, but she had a bath and was taken to see the cherry blossoms in the park.
Now she'll have today to recover, and then tomorrow morning she is due to go again...all day.
Yesterday she told Dear Son that she was tired and didn't want to go again...
We are thinking we should scale it back to just once a week for dance class. In summer she can go walking downtown or round the neighborhood for exercise - she doesn't NEED twice a week day care.
Most old people snooze daytime - I'm surprised that the day care center doesn't allow for that in their schedule. Maybe they do, but Okaasan doesn't think/want to sleep in a public place?

Actually we were surprised how tired she became in the family walk round the park on Saturday. The park is flat and we walked about half a kilometer. She was already tired. Well, 83? are allowed to get tired.

And one strange, wacky thing: she was talking at day care about how she often goes to the ear, nose, throat hospital!????? Yujiro says she tells people this quite often...I don't even know the word for this in Japanese, so I haven't heard it or understood it - but apparently she tells people center staff, day care manager etc

REALLY odd. Because, of course she doesn't go to hospital. She hates hospitals. She has never been to an ear, nose, throat hospital. Nobody around her has. Very odd.

We'll leave her quietly today and see if she is interested in going to dance tomorrow. It's important she stays positive about day care, so if twice a week is too much for her - then time to scale it back.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Another cherry blossom season

...and so, here we are again....cherry blossom season and still living with Okaasan.
When this all started I hopefully picked up hints in various dementia writings that it might only go on for 3 years or so. until she became so deranged that we had to put her in professional care...yeah...right...what is this? The 4th spring with her?
Cherry blossoms have come very late to north Japan. 10 days in some places. Sunshine and blue sky - everyone is just relieved to see them.
We took Okaasan out to a park for a walk yesterday - bit of family duty. I felt last year that however much we talked about "oh, the blossoms are lovely - you should go and see them" - she actually didn't. Once she leaves the house and goes for a walk she is set in her familiar routes of station - coffee shop - department store - station -home.
So after lunch at home the three of us drove down to one of the big city parks, a bit of a grey and windy day, but we joined everyone else ambling around.
Did Okaasan enjoy it? I guess. She fussed about her coat and her scarf and her handbag, she commented how cold it was...endlessly...and how cold it was for people to be boating on the lake.
Called into some toilets in a museum half way round the park. While she and I waited for a toilet to be empty Okaasan asked: "Are we going to have lunch out now?" ate it at home an hour ago, the three of us in the kitchen...."Really? I don't remember, did we? I am losing my memory, aren't I?".....
But contrast that with Okaasn's friendly welcome to my Friend with Baby who dropped something off at the house earlier - Okaasan knew who she was and bustled out to chat to her about how I-never-took-my-babies-outside-until-they-were-university-graduates-times -have-changed-etc
But lunch with her son and I in the kitchen an hour ago? Gone.
The cherry blossom walk knackered Okaasan, she slept the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening too. She spends most afternoons asleep and rushing her out after lunch threw that routine of course.
But she is fine. And so, another cherry blossom season of living with and looking after his mum.
aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Thanks for joining me for the ride. I hope spring is lovely, whereever you are.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

So You Think You Can Dance?

There we are - proof that Okaasan is actually going to a day service place and dancing. :-))

The center took photographs and offered to sell them to us, but in this day and age you can just rephotograph and post on the Internet...or take them to a 7-11 and copy them.

Anyway - Okaasan looking happy enough, dancing hand in hand with a nice looking teacher (left) and grooving on down in hula in her pink T-shirt (right).

Sorry, there hasn't been much Okaasan and Me to report on in the past week. Hasn't been much Me to report on really as I disappeared for 4 days work into the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology 65th Annual Congress.

4 days of agony really. Exhausting, shattering work.
The doctors had booked 8 bilingual staff to support and attend about 50 non-Japanese VIP guests at this conference.
50 VIPs and 8 staff. Already too many staff.
Then factor in that the congress was spread over three buildings and four hotels, that Japanese doctors speaking perfectly good English were taking care of their foreign colleagues, that Americans and Brits and Taiwanese doctors CAN actually navigate from their hotel bedroom to their presentation room alone...and ....and...and..
The VIP room had lunch for 50 people. I think the maximum was 13 people eating it.
We bilingual staff stood and sat, and stood and sat for ages doing nothing. Hours.
Some of us created work for ourselves - going out and around the congress helping anybody - VIP or not - and there were tiny highlights of interest.
But really 4 days of leaving home at 6.45 am and getting home after 9 pm. Knackered.
My knee muscles swelled up and I think I am too old to do that kind of work. I was hoping it would lead to more interesting work in future. Hmm.

* Cross your legs ladies.....on the sale booths at congress there were display cases of those ice-cream scoopy things gyno docs like to stick into us, there were tilting examination chairs and...horror of horrors!!! ...there was a VIDEO of an examination, with the woman's bits and the doctor's fingers and the new-design inserting machine...and...and...and...aghhhhhhhh!!!!
I checked the presentations to see if there was a paper entitled: "Exploding Yubari Melon in 49 year-old English Teacher". I think it was an afternoon session on Day 3..

So, I hardly saw Okaasan for 4 days. Hardly saw Yujiro and the cats either.
Okaasan was out and missed her delivery dinner box on Saturday night - I came home knackered at gone 9 pm and found her standing in the kitchen wondering what to do. I threw stuff in the microwave and onto the table for her (Dear Son was at a party).
Sunday was Mother's Day. I remembered to remind Dear Son. I bought the flowers for him to give her. Then I chickened out of Going Out to Family Dinner, and sent mother and son off together - so I could stay home quietly and recover with alcohol and dinner-on-a-tray-with-TV.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Day care - twice

Off she goes again - second time this week at day care.

First day went well - but she was tired when she came home and told Dear Son that she hadn't wanted to take a bath because she was so tired after the hula dancing. She had done a whole hour of dancing - not realising she could stop anytime she chose.
He called the day service people and told them to TELL her to stop - not offer her the chance to stop - just TELL her. Okaasan is so polite she would think it rude to the teacher to stop dancing!

And this morning off she went again - I actually stayed upstairs and let the center driver deal with all Okaasan's questions and back and forths to get stuff from her room - and off she goes again...

and so we hope this continues as our routine.....we hope.

I'm disappearing now into 4 days of work at an international conferenece for gyno doctors. I shall get my revenge for every painful gyno examination I've ever had and hand out misinformation at the conference desk..."Mount Fuji? Yes, just take a taxi from the front of the hotel and ask for 'Fu-gu' - that'll do it!".

and....our blue baby came home yesterday....driving it gave me palpitations...

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Son to the rescue

When he offered to take his old mum into his home and daily life - he had no idea what he was getting into...

Last night Okaasan had a major toilet accident and he persuaded her to come OUT of the toilet, helped her across the kitchen to the shower room, cleaned up her underwear etc (Oyomesan cleaned the toilet...)

Okaasan pretty distressed about it, of course. At first I kept out of the way upstairs - to spare Okaasan even more upset and to give son time to step up and get involved.
And he did.

End of the Japanese Golden Week holidays...a jumble of public holidays on the calender which give the whole nation a  bit of freedom.
Sadly, where I live the weather was awful. Cold, grey and wet.
I had a virus from the start of the holidays and spent the whole time with below level energy levels and no interest in anything. I slipped from day to day, somehow.
My friend with baby had had the good sense to escape south to her parents' it was a quiet time. I didn't even make an effort to see anybody.
On the computer I did my accounts for 3 months and started moving emails over to a new address.
Saw 4? 5? movies. Ate lunch out a lot to escape lunches with Okaasan. Watched a lot of TV.
Did get out for one walk in beautiful see skunk cabbages growing in a marsh knee survived 2 hours of almost flat walking. It felt goooood to walk again - maybe this year I can do more and more.

Today Okaasan went off again to day care - all positively it seemed. This week will be the first with TWO day care visits. We'll see if she enjoys that, or if it is too exhausting.
The center report about her last time mentioned that she kept asking the staff: "why am I here when there is no dancing?" she isn't entirely in the flow of going there just because it is fun.

Ahhh...back to work today.

But! This week - arrival of our new baby! A new car!!!!! And I will do 4 days of intense work at an international conference of doctors, information desk support staff...ready to answer ANY questions...maybe.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Day service...minus Dance

How to get Okaasan to dayservice without the promise of exciting dance classes?
Yesterday was the first time.
I chickened out and got HIM to do it.
He's Japanese afterall, his language skills are way better than mine.
And I'm still sick. Sort of.
And depressed by cold, grey, wet public holidays.

So he marched in to her room and cheerfully told her to get ready for "day service, no - no dance today, but other fun things of course, so you should go and see and if you don't enjoy it, then we can talk again, but you should go and see shouldn't you, yes, it is spring, but you should there is no dance, but it's fun and you should go and see, yes, it's the same place as before, no you DON'T need a dance skirt, but you will have a bath, and if you don't like it......"

So glad he did all of that!
I listened from the kitchen and tried to remember some of the key phrases, so that when it is MY turn to persuade her...I have a chance of getting her out the door.
But she went off to day service with smiles, and came home with smiles. A bit tired. But apparently happy.

Twice next week. One day with no dance and one day with dance.

The weather is absolutely crap here. Actually snowing in some parts of where I live today.
Cold. Grey. Crap.
We should be getting spring leaves and the first hint of cherry blossoms, and blue skies and getting out in the garden.
I've had a bout of depression - kind of runs in my family - hardly surprising really. I've seen a lot of films, eaten a lot and taken each hour at a time.
A grim public holiday at home with his mother (he has somehow started work as a bike taxi guy)....I need all the escape-into-films and food I can get.