Thursday, 20 February 2014

NV or not to be....

The one toilet accident last Friday become two - another on Saturday.

The washed, dried carpet tile spent about 3 hours back in its place - and then was hauled off into the bathroom again for cleaning. A new toilet mat hadn't even made its appearance.

Okaasan denied she had any soiled clothes in her room and Dear Son accepted her denial.
But when she went to the toilet again a few hours later I ran into her room and found it all folded up in a newspaper, nesting on top of the spare room heater.

Did Okaasan have the dreaded Norovirus that is common at the moment among school kids and nursing home residents? Was it just forgetting to go to the toilet in time - twice in 72 hours?
She hadn't eaten anything unusual or a large amount.

We waited another 24 hours.
Okaasan seemed "down" over the weekend. Ate silently, didn't speak much. Shuffling around under a cloud. Was that the continuing bad feeling after two toilet accidents, or was it a worsening condition?

Okaasan with Norovirus would be haaaaard. Trying to do all the cleaning and keeping things hygienic, when she wouldn't remember the details and probably resent constant checking. Only bright spot would be she'd probably stop eating.

By Sunday night she seemed a little brighter. Sunday had passed with no accidents.
She seemed back on track.

I told day center on Tuesday, felt it was only fair.
They wanted to know if she had had or still had a temperature. Of course they can't risk having a virus-carrier in the center. I hadn't actually checked that, of course. All I could say was that the toilet problems appeared to have gone. And she seemed fine again.
They accepted her to go.

* Bathroom.
Dear Son got Okaasan to have a bath after the 2nd accident. But she couldn't get UP from the little shower seat. We went and bought a much higher seat for her...and for us :-) This time he was right - she was in the shower for ages and he actually opened the door and went in and helped her stand up. Recently when she was in the bathroom for ages I called to her from outside the door - to check for signs of life - but I didn't actually open the door and go in. I should have done.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Assisted living

That would be me. Not her.

My living assistant Dear Son had a whole week at home! Hence no blogging, cos he made it all run smoothly.
I sailed off to work without a care in the world and he worried about shopping and cooking and snow clearing.

So much easier.
Couple time of dinner with friends, lots of TV, planning my birthday ski trip next month, watching Olympics on TV.

We did lots of family stuff with Okaasan. Lunches and dinners out locally, and took her to the Sapporo Snow Festival. She walked half the length of the park gripping his hand firmly.

And we enjoyed all the huge human and animal forms in snow that this year's festival had to offer.

SUCH a good week...I even managed to slip out between classes for an afternoon ski at the local ski slope overlooking the city. I love it that there is skiing just a 20 min drive from home.

And that was it really. At the end of the week Okaasan had a major toilet accident and hid it all in her laundry basket. Luckily she lives with us, so I could sneak into her room within hours and remove it all. If she lived alone it would just stay there, forgotten for sure.
The dirty clothes and the toilet mat were beyond rescue. We threw them away. The toilet carpet tile could be washed.

And so another week.

I read a blog about a woman whose husband has suffered from Lewy Body Dementia for years. This week he died. In hospital with his wife and daughter there at the bedside. And she blogged so beautifully about it. Sharing such a personal time.
Blogging is so strange. The happy and the sad. My blog is usually upbeat, the wacky, frustrating side of life. But her blog reminded me of how terrible this disease is and how it takes away so much of a person from the people they know and love.
Okaasan will be 83? 84? this year and her death at this age would not be unusual or shocking, far younger people have forms of dementia and lose their lives young.
A thought going out  to all the carers around the world.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Just a little thing.... :-)

I PASSED Level 4 of the Japanese Test! I really did. A wonderful end to the week :-)

And my Listening? Yup, that would be a PERFECT score...because I get to listen to Dear Son and Okaasan waffling on and on and on and on and on....

I think the other sections was a borderline pass - 57 out of 120 isn't so good....but....who cares.

It is a pass and I am a little step nearer becoming an amazing talented volunteer at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Roll on Level 3....July.

* No, there isn't a hole in my pass certificate, I just whited out my name and birth date. Probably not a good idea to spread that information all over the Internets. Although if you trawl thru this blog you could discover probable ATM names, favorite movies, mother's maiden name and the first record I bought.

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.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Outting the demons and tagging the clothes

Bean Throwing Festival yesterday in Japan.
Okaasan and I stood in the entrance hall and threw peanuts out into the snow and shouted "Devil go away! Good luck come in!".
Then  we went inside and stood with these giant sushi rolls and faced the north-east corner...the cooker...and took a first bite. Silently.

She loved it. Told me all about how it was a created festival by Osaka businesses etc etc. But loved doing it. All late afternoon I could see she was sitting looking at the supermarket flyers from the newspaper: all with glossy pictures of tempting sushi rolls.
I feel doing these seasonal things is important for her. Creates a kind of ongoing feeling. That time again. A link emotionally and in the routines to the past.

6 am today I crashed back into my reality though...
Wandered bleary eyed into the living room, switched on the Tv, moved aside some cat toys and sat myself down....found some stray peanuts on the sofa.
So I ate them.
They weren't. Peanuts.
Dried cat food bits.
The diet variety.

Oh. Yuk. I can see why Popo turns his nose up at them in favor of calorie laden goodies.

And in other news...I am trying to get on top of the names-on-clothes situation.
Okaasan stresses that people at the day care center take her clothes while she is having a bath. So she tries to sew little tapes and write her name on things. It's a task she does in fits and starts, usually when she has going to day care in mind.

10 minutes before the day  service car arrives I find her in her underwear, standing by the window trying to thread a needle..... That old "time will somehow fit" routine.
So. I bought some iron-on labels - my life far too short for sewing the fiddly little things - and I've started adding labels to her clothes when I was them. And with a magic pen writing her name.
Great for kanji practice :-)
Except yesterday I realised I'd only put the second kanji of her name on the label......had to go back in this morning and add the first part! Otherwise she'll be "Jima-san" and not "Nakajima".

Taking over the doing of things like this involves lots of little decisions. Will she mind? Will she notice? Will she be annoyed? Should I do it with her? Would that be harder? Would she refuse to do it? Is it easier to just do it and hope...?

In the run of my busy life it often is just easier for me to DO it myself. Buy the labels, Take the clothes, Iron them on and write the name. Return the clothes to her room.
In an ideal caring world I would involve her in the process. But. I don't.
It's like the orange peel saving for a little bag and the bath. I doubt she is ever going to sew a little bag herself. I could buy a little bag, make it up for her next bathtime....but..agh....I just threw away most of the dried peel and kept a bit on top of the fridge - in case she gets angry about the missing peel. I can placate her with a bit.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A winter weekend

Successful weekend of Oyomesanning.
Patting myself on the back with plum wine.....

Saturday I hung out at home in the morning: snow clearing, cat playing and a bit of kanji study.
Gave Okaasan an early lunch and left to go skiing. I told her that she should/could go out. And gave her enough money to shop AND get a taxi home.
I prepped dinner and left it on the kitchen counter.
Worried a bit about her during the afternoon. Nice sunny day, roads should be okay...but....

Called her late afternoon to check she was home ok.

And MET MY GUY! Romance....well, actually no - cos after he finished work at the ski resort we went shopping near the ski school, and then back at the ski instructor's lodge to cook up tacos for 11 people and fed the young, hip instructors and staff from New Zealand, Uk, Japan and China. 
Hardly a romantic dinner. Two hours of a car ride, a shop, cooking...and eating with others.

But. It gave me a feeling that I am connected to his non-home life. I used to do this, before we had Okaasan to care for. Go and hang out at the ski areas where he was was working. Be a ski-guy's girl etc.
Often now I just feel like the woman-at-home....doing necessary domestic duties. I don't want him to EVER think of me in that light. So I go and hang out a bit in his ski instructor life - to remind us both that this domestic duty bit is only for now. When Okaasan has gone to the Great Kotatsu I will once again be able to be the ski guy girl.....I hope.
When that happens we will eat cheese fondue again, and go to Europe to ski, and...and ....

Back in our Present.
While we were food shopping he called Okaasan to give her instructions for switching on the onepot cooker and heating up the dinner. She managed it. I got home after 9 pm and she was sleeping. All ok.

Today, Sunday.
Did laundry. Mine. Okaasan's.
Went to Costco with my friend and baby boy. Had lunch of cheese and olives and bread....

Studied kanji for several hours.

When I cleaned Okaasan's room I found a notebook full of English/Japanese vocabulary from the days when she was in an English-study circle. 10? 15 years ago? When she was doing lots of tour travels to America, South Africa and Australia...lists of words for study.
Now her writing is TV shopping phone numbers, bits of recipes from TV shows, dates and time memo things. Once - not so long ago - she was actively studying English. I'm hoping that this burst of kanji study in my 50s will stave off dementia for myself.

Took Okaasan to the subway station and sent her off downtown for a few hours.
 She comes back quickly now. No big wandering. Just goes to the same coffee shop or convenience store, has a coffee and comes back.
She called me to pick her up. ;-) She is really getting into the routine with the phonecalls.

Dinner together. Chat about stuff. Food. Cats.

Another weekend done. He is away till the end of the week...

*** Old orange peel.
Okaasan has been saving orange peel. I tried to throw it away once, but she saw me doing it and got very agitated - it's for the bath!! I'm going to make a little bag and put orange peel in the bath!

Well. I don't think that is ever going to happen. I really don't. She is never going to make a little bag. The old peel will sit there on the bookcase for months...and months. It's been there 2 weeks already.
Today I removed it all. While she was downtown.
I am waiting to see if she notices.
I don't think she will.