The legs are slightly better.
She is getting up off the carpet fairly easily and getting around the house ok.
Only went out twice on her own.
Outside the front door I moved the garden bench nearer the steps so she can use it for support. It used to be there, but as I was drying lavender on it recently and there was heavy rain I'd moved it back against the wall. Maybe she really does need that as physical and visual support.
And I bought a book about rheumatism. For Okaasan.
Just a start, to try and get her thinking about her condition and how to help it. I discussed with DS about the book - "she won't read it" he commented and I share that worry. She firmly believes she knows everything about health because of the health-guru Dr Nishi 40 years ago.
So she rejects any other advice or suggestion.
In my mind I have rehearsed some possibly persuasive conversations: Yes, I know Nishi-sensei was a genius, but that was 40 years ago. You were a young woman then. He didn't need to teach you about rheumatism. But of course study about health is important at any age! You can never stop learning about health can you? Maybe this book has some ideas! Have a look!
I've had that conversation with myself while sitting on the train, vacuuming, feeding cats. Replayed that scene many times.
But at the end of it Okaasan is always dismissive of the book: I don't need a book. I know about health. I studied health with Nishi-genius, I don't need a book. I know about my body.
and on an on and on and on.
I can see me. Like Ellie in the NHK drama, standing all dewy-eyed and lip trembling. My hopes crushed.
I sneaked the book into her room and onto her table. Put it under some newspapers and bits of paper. Left it for her to find.
This way she can think that maybe she bought the book. That it's her book already. Can glance at it. Get used to the sight of it on the table. And eventually maybe open it and look at the exercises and recipe ideas inside.
If she mentions it we'll just say: "oh, you bought it didn't you..recently?" Her dementia is advanced enough that she isn't 100% sure what she bought recently.
|Okaasan deep into a program about dinosaurs...with the rheumatism book among her clutter.|
Sneaky. But maybe the best way to introduce the book and any good ideas it has.
* Other news.
* A local convenience store telephoned the house and said they were still holding the magazine that Okaasan bought recently. She bought it and asked the staff in the shop to keep it for her - because it was too heavy to carry. And then forgot it.
* Sorting out thru Okaasan's handbag (I periodically throw out old receipts and forgotten bits of food wrapped in tissue paper)...I came across... Okaasan's TOOTH! The one that dropped out last month. Nearly wrapped in a bit of paper and in a side pocket of the handbag.
This week has been okay. About Thursday Okaasan suddenly had a very swollen top lip. She looked like a chimpanzee. But no bruising. No idea, of course, how it happened.
She ate a little food and said it was tender to touch. But not a toothache. We don't know. She fell on the day I found her sitting on the step? She has some other problem?
Don't know. It's faded again now.
Yesterday we took her out for a Family Outing.
Lunchtime trip to a department store downtown. Car ride, walk round two floors of the store looking at clothes and shoes. Then Japanese lunch in an old fashioned restaurant.
She loved it. Trotted round the shop behind us, touching the things we touched. Commenting on the sale items in loud whispers: "That is too flashy, no ordinary woman wants THAT! Only nightclub staff, that's why they couldn't sell it!". Loving being in a shop.
She ate the largest amount of food she's eaten all week and responded to chat about fish names and shopping. A good time.
When Okaasan first came to live in Sapporo, 5 years ago, she used to go to this department store culture school for hula dance class. That's amazing in fact: she used to get dressed, on schedule go downtown and join the class and its events. Chat to the other members. Enjoy. Until the alleged "bullying".
Now she can't. The whole getting ready to go out on schedule and join a group event thing. Can't get herself on target for that.
Made me think what has changed in 5 years.
Winter cometh. DS says he'll get the day care manager to come in for a meeting with Okaasan and we'll try to get her interested in going once a week to a hula dance class and lunch. And if a wall of negativity defeats that, we'll arrange for the local taxi to come once a week and take her out.
Thankyou for your comments:
I hear you. I really do. He IS passive about her medical care. I know. He takes the easy way out.
I am sure it is frustrating to read about this. This inaction with an elderly woman who may benefit from medical intervention.
I feel frustrated writing it.
But. A few points by way of explanation/excuse.
a) It's not my mother. I'm not even married to this guy. 14 years of co-habitation. So until he is away working in winter and she is my total responsibility - he has to be the primary carer. In any society, and definitely in Japan.
In winter, when he is away - if she falls down or can't get up to the toilet etc - I am going to be on the phone to an ambulance SO QUICK she won't know what's hit her. Some nice friendly paramedics will carry her out of the house and into a local hospital. And I will sit back with a glass of wine and a big satisfied smile on my face. I'm hoping that will happen this winter. I really do. :-)
b) I think there is a different attitude to crawling on the floor in Japan. The floor is not an alien place, as it is to adult Western people. Japanese people sit and sleep on the floor. Live their lives on the floor. Okaasan certainly does.
So, when her legs were so bad that she couldn't stand - and she crawled into the house from the front door steps. I think MY reaction is more shocked than her, or her son's reaction.
If my mother or father had only been able to crawl into the house, they and I would have been shocked: "My god, it's reached this terrible level! Like a baby or an animal!"
But for a Japanese person? I think that position is just more normal. Not 100% normal, of course, but not a degrading, unbelievable level to have reached. Just a practical adaptation to a physical change. I can't stand, so I will crawl.
c) The whole No Medical Intervention is HER choice. Yes, made thru the murky prism of dementia. But still a conscious, reasoned choice. A large slab of traditional thinking. Pain is to be endured with stoicism. It will pass. Stay calm and eat a little. Sleep a lot. Let the body right itself. What will be, will be. I am old. The old body needs time to recover.
And you know - it does.
She goes from a screaming, flinching mess on the carpet to tottering around her room peering at shopping receipts in the space of a few days. Sometimes a week. Sometimes 2 weeks.
But she does. It is amazing.
There is something to be said - and OH MY GOD THIS IS HARD TO WRITE! - to her method. Not rushing off for medical intervention at a sign that the body is under stress. But just accepting it, living quietly with the pain and waiting for it to pass.
I don't subscribe to this myself. After my stomach melon situation 4 years ago - I now happily take my problems to hospitals. It's my body and I decide.
She is 84 years old and she is deciding to do a different thing.
In spring this year - when she announced she was going to quit day care - I reached a new stage in my attitude to Okaasan. After my fury about her decision subsided, I decided:
Let her be. Just accept more of her choices about how she wants to live her life at the end of 84 years. Don't let HER choices give you stress. You don't need the stress.
If she wants to endure the pain and pee on the carpet.
Just let her.
If she REALLY needs outside help. Or you do. Then get it. In an emergency.
But if she (and her son) want to end her days like this. It is her choice. I am a bystander to her life. A recent part of her life. I have an overwhelming desire to jump in and help and make it better. It's my nature. But she is not a person without mind yet.
Her choice. My life and stress levels need to be my concern.
I am trying to think like that.
Trying to let it all just wash around me.
Sometimes I can. Sometimes I want to jump in and try to change the water flow.
But thankyou for all your thoughts and support! Nice to know there are real people out there reading this and along for the journey with me. I know I am not alone.
Finally. A cat picture. Cos we all need one.
A new cat tower. Thanks to Amazon Japan. The boys are unsure at the moment. But like the TV cat whisperer Jackson Gallaxy: I am tempting them with snacks into their new playland and hoping that it'll keep them entertained in the winter months ahead.