Wednesday, 3 December 2014

6 years an oyomesan...

It really is: SIX whole years since all this began.
December 2 in 2008 I was a carefree English teacher in Japan with a cool boyfriend and a cat. Teaching and skiing and drinking and......

Full of responsibility. Feel I've grown up a whole lot. Now a middle aged, wife and daughter-in-law/carer/cleaner/cook/planner....
Well, I AM 53 years old. Had to grow up sometime!

Okaasan came north to live with us 6 years ago this week. Poor woman.
Well, no - actually. If she'd stayed in her own home in the Tokyo suburbs she would have been in a sorry state with a confused and dirty life. Fighting with the post office and bank about money and always looking for important things. Going out to the sports center for a bath and to the local noodle restaurant for food.
But - she would have been in her own home, with her neighbours and the area she had known for all her adult life.

Can't get away from that. We dragged her out of her familiar environment and into a place where 4 months of the year there is so much snow, it is hard to go out and walk. To a place where she has no friends or memories.

I guess that is the trade off every family makes: Familiar, but uncared for vs Unfamiliar, but cared for.

And so our 6th winter begins.
DS goes off today to start ski work. Maybe home once more this week, and then gone for a week.
And today the day center helper will come to take Okaasan out in a taxi for a visit to the supermarket and dinner preparations. The weather is really cold and windy, with snow flurries - which should reinforce the idea that "you can't go out alone today, so this nice lady is going to help you".

I hope.
I'm working till after 9 pm today, so I can't see how the day care helper visit goes down. Just sit here between classes....wondering!

6 years.

How long will it all go on? And when freedom comes...will we know what to do with it?
This experience has definitely aged us. Made us better people? Probably.

And Okaasan? Her condition is a little worse, of course. Not dramatic. But the independence has gone. The variety of every day she used to do. Replaced with a lot of sitting/Tv/sleeping. Conversation style: declining. Walking: declining. Personal care: declining. Interaction with the physical world around her: declining.
Overall: happy day to day.
And when there is a change of condition - whether that is a physical problem or stress with us or the world - oh boy! We see a scary change suddenly.A change into paranoia, aggression and raw emotion.

So. 6 years.....
Thankyou so much if you've been reading this blog for 6 years. Thankyou too, if you are a recent reader. I love knowing there is a support network.

Onwards into winter.


  1. Congratulations on making it 6 years. Thought of you while watching the trailer for Alive Inside this afternoon. It showed how playing music from elderly people's early years makes a difference.

    1. I know that movie! I want to see it too. Coming soon I think? Okaasan would like hula music....or Latin music.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your life. I was thinking the other day that if you didn't know Okasan's stories and know how to prompt her, that they would be lost, since she is not talking spontaneously so much. You've done so much, keeping her safe, and warm, and fed. You should celebrate somehow! (although you wonder how she would react to a celebration.. I read about music in realation to the teenage brain; something about because teenagers feel so much emotion, that the music that they hear and learn during that age, is their favorite for life.. Maybe you can find some old recordings of songs on youtube...Nancy in Tokyo

  3. I feel with you and admire you, you are doing a great job!!!! Karin

  4. Not quite 6 years, but three, maybe four years. And I sort of identify in a second hand fashion -- I've a roommate who spends much of her time helping her sister cope with a 90-ish Alzheimer-ridden schizophrenic mother, so I can glimpse what you're dealing with -- Useless as that understanding might be for really assisting you.

    But another thing is, I'm myself a mostly housebound elderly retiree with few local acquaintances. I hit your website a couple of times a week and it's like keeping up with someone I know -- a friend even. I'm interested in your life, even the frustrating parts of it, I wish you well, I wish to stay current -- albeit in second-hand electronic fashion. I'm often cynical about the internet and its prospects. but it strikes me you've accomplished something here -- you've built up a community of readers and well-wishers around the world. You aren't alone. Though your site you've given something unique and valuable to all your readers, and I hope the awareness of that gives something back to you. And to Okasan.

    1. Hi Mike ! :-) Nice to hear from you! Oh, thankyou for that sweet comment. I feel the good vibes. I teach a lady in her 70s who seems to have constantly bad experiences with the Internet (her phone number was published by mistake on an art festival website and now she is getting lots of hotel advertising spam after booking one hotel in Tokyo last summer) - she often says the Internet is "scary and bad"...and I try to encourage her that it CAN be a good and wonderful thing. Like this blogging...I feel the same about a New Zealand woman, who I have never met, but she writes about her family life in a small community in Kyushu - and I miss her blog postings if she doesn't write :-) No problem about that here in the next few months - Okaasan and Me gets much more active in winter as I wrestle with day to day Okaasan care. Welcome!