Wednesday, 5 February 2014

"I can do it!"......or not...

Carer's ego trip.
I sometimes wonder: "If I stopped doing all the things I do for Okaasan. What would happen? How much could she do herself? All the planning, shopping, cooking, serving, washing up, laundry, cleaning, money managing, arranging of life's necessities....if I just stopped. What would happen?"

I get a glimpse of the answer when I am away from home for a few days and Dear Son does most of the above. But not the cleaning or the laundry. It's a male thing, isn't it? I come home to a carpet strewn with newspapers and supermarket flyers, old bits of food and lunch boxes nestling down under it all, random underpants and socks. Unwashed tea cups with dried tea stains.

And that's just our 2nd floor living room. :-)

But, seriously. I do wonder. How much could Okaasan cope? She wouldn't starve. She could buy or find food and eat it. Maybe cold. She can go to the toilet herself. The trash would mount up around her ears. But she would get by. I guess.
When Dear Son found her 5 years ago in her house near Tokyo she was "getting by" in a trash filled home with money and rotting food, paper and clothes around her. Eating at a local restaurant every day and fighting with the post office about money she believed it had stolen from her.
Which is why he brought her to live with us. So the trash wouldn't mount up, the food would be served and the money guarded.

Last night turned into a little experiment. In "cooking"...well in heating up pre-cooked dinner, serving and eating it.

Okaasan came home from a successful day care trip. Had enjoyed a bath, lunch, chat and a movie with popcorn!
At 5 pm I was starting to prepare her dinner to put into flasks before I headed out for evening work.
I usually do this once she has settled down by the TV, it avoids all the confusing conversation (and my guilt) about yes-I-am-going-out-you-have-to-eat-alone. I prep it all, put it on the table and then cheerfully tell her just as I am leaving.

This time she found me starting the prepping.
"Oh, you don't need to do that! You are busy, I can wait till later! I can do it myself!"
"You can? Usually you don't. So Dear Son and I prepare for you. Recently you don't cook, we help you, don't we? Can you do it tonight? Wonderful....okay....thankyou..."

So I left her to it.
I left pre-cooked  rice and a tofu dish in plastic boxes for reheating. I  left spinach and soy sauce. I left the instant soup packets. All on the kitchen counter.

Very interested to see what would happen.

A snow storm, work and delicious local curry restaurant dinner alone...came home about 9.15 pm.

All the food boxes and food was on the kitchen counter exactly as I'd left them at 5 pm.
Okaasan was in her room watching TV.

Oh well. Guess she wasn't hungry  after day center popcorn. She slept and watched TV instead.

I put the food in the fridge and went upstairs. TV, wine, cats, e mails....get ready for bed.

9.45 pm a little voice comes echoing up the stairs:"Amanda-san! Amanda-san!".
"Are you home? I didn't eat anything! I'm hungry! Is there any dinner?"

So back to the kitchen and got the food out again. Heated it up. Okaasan standing there hugging herself and looking a bit manic. She didn't remember anything about the 5 pm "I'll do it myself" conversation of course. 

Had just watched TV and slept and watched TV through the evening until the hunger drove her into the kitchen/or she vaguely heard me coming home....waited to be fed...but nothing emerged into the kitchen and then, seeing no food on the table or counter...didn't look in the fridge...went to the bottom of the stairs to call for help.

So. If we weren't making and serving food at set times of the day, she would be hunting for food at random times when hungry. Would that be bad? I guess in the long run - yes. The routine of the days, the mealtimes would all get blended into a stream of TV/sleep/eat/TV/sleep/eat.

It is probably better that she is kept on a routine of lunch at 12, dinner at 7. Now it is daytime. Now it is nighttime. 
So. I have a value :-)
As I said, carer's ego trip.


  1. Amanda, you do wonderful work caring for her and giving her a happy life. She truly woudn't be able to cope without your help, planning, and scheduling. You should give yourself 2 or maybe 3 stars as a reward. Nancy in Tokyo

  2. Thankyou Nancy! Yes, now I guess I AM getting into a routine with it all - so I forget a little quite how much I/we do for her. Too much maybe? But it is easier to do stuff ourselves and make sure it gets done. She can just mooch thru every day and not have to worry about it all...