Thursday, 26 February 2015

Literal lies

A glass of wine.
I could see it - through a day from hell - I kept getting flashes of that remaining few centimeters of Otaru wine in the bottle at home, poured into the glass and beckoning to me: "Come sip me!"

As I plowed onwards thru a day of tight schedule and must-do-madness...that red wine, in a glass, in my hand....was awaiting.

So as I finally got to the front door at 9 pm my lips were smacking. The bottle was tilting...the wine was heading glasswards...

One cat was miaowing piteously on the snowy door step. Cat entrance window was closed.
Key in the door lock. Turn. Pull.


The security chain was on!
Aghh....... a chain between me and the wine. No no no!!!
Ringing the door bell to get Okaasan out of slumber land, taking off my coat so I could jam my arm through the gap to try and unhook the me wine...give me dinner...and rest...and wine...and...aghhh.....

Not a happy person.

Okaasan staggered blinkingly into the hallway just as I unhooked the chain and opened the door. With famished cat yowling at my feet.

She actually claimed that the day-service helper had done it. Denied putting the chain up etc. I was stressed and pleading: "DON'T put the chain on! I wasn't home yet!"
Of course she picked up on my stress, and was quick to deny what she'd done. Really argued that the helper had gone out thru the door and somehow put the chain on and then locked the door.... which would be bizarre actions for a woman who had returned the key to the service folder on the kitchen chair, and who knew I wouldn't be home until 9 pm.

Situation then went further downhill. All fed by my tiredness and stress, and Okaasan's confusion and defensiveness.

In the kitchen I asked: "All ok, so you went shopping with the day helper? You had dinner?".

Bad idea. Don't ask questions. Dementia 101.

"Dinner? um. No. I didn't buy anything. That person who came. She bought things. I didn't have any money. She bought things....I couldn't buy anything..."

???? No dinner? You didn't buy any food? 

Rising panic that the the wine would have to wait even longer while I had to cook up something for Okaasan's dinner. Final relaxing at the end of the looong day receding into the distance.

I was furiously glancing round the kitchen and in Okaasan's room for evidence of her usual shopping and food. I'd left a note for the day helper TELLING them I wouldn't be home until late, so they knew to make sure Okaasan bought food or they cooked something for her.
Had the system failed?

"I didn't buy anything. I didn't have any money..."

A plastic box of sushi rolls.
Fish paste sausages.
4 aloe yogurts.
Bread rolls
Rice cracker snacks.
etc etc

There it all was. On Okaasan's table. On the kitchen counter. In the fridge.
The clear evidence of a shopping trip and food bought and eaten.
The receipts for all of that in the day service folder. With the change from the shopping. The receipts from the taxi rides. The front door key.

All as it should be.

Okaasan looking at it all as though she had never seen it. I was ( embarrassed to admit this) shaking the pots of yogurt and fish paste sausages at her aggressively....

"Look! Look! You DID go shopping! You did buy these things!!! You did eat this!!! Look! You have dementia, so you don't remember! You bought these things four hours ago!!!"

Not a great moment as a kind, sensitive carer.

Okaasan and I retreated to our respective living rooms. Family stress scene.

I finally consummated my love for the precious wine. A long day..and a bad end.

I guess what was at play here were two things: Okaasan couldn't really remember the shopping trip AND when pressed by my question and my stress about the chained door situation... what she did remember was the feeling that she didn't have any money and the day helper had been holding and controlling the money and paid for the shopping at the checkout.

So it became a literal lie. I did not buy the food. I did not have money. That woman BOUGHT things with her money. I did not buy the things. I did not eat anything. 

Literally it is true: Okaasan did not give the shop staff the money for the foods. SHE did not buy them. The helper "bought" them.

<<She was a by-stander. BY-stander!!!! BUY-stander!! Get it??? Oh, I am funny!! Oh god, I should be locked up.>>

When we take Okaasan shopping, or (in summer) when she goes shopping herself - we make sure she has a little money in her purse. But on these Wednesday day care helper visits we leave taxi/shopping money in the service file for the helper. I'm not sure why : Dear Son and the day service agreed this system?

So, Okaasan is in the supermarket. She picks up foodstuffs she wants. But when she gets to the checkout she doesn't have any money. The helper opens up an envelope and pays the supermarket staff.
That is obviously not a good feeling for Okaasan. She is being marginalized by the action. In public, an outsider is paying for her shopping. Taking away her role in the shopping experience.

When we are shopping with Okaasan we sometimes pay for her shopping, she always comments about: "oh thankyou, I will pay you back later"...although of course she can't/doesn't because we actually control the money in her life. But for her the sight of us paying for her shopping is an acceptable situation. A family member loaning her some money.

The day helper paying for her shopping in the supermarket is not. And so the shopping trip has negative associations. I didn't shop. I didn't buy. I didn't eat.

I'm going to talk to DS about this. Try to make sure that on Wednesdays Okaasan HAS money of her own in her purse, so she can pay for what she chooses. Only give the helper money for taxi fares. Give Okaasan the feeling of control on a shopping trip.

It is such a small thing: leaving money for a shopping trip. We and the day helper didn't think about it. But maybe it had an impact on Okaasan. Who has the money. Actually HAS the money. And when pushed into a stressed situation by a wine-deprived-exhausted daughter-in-law: her negative feelings came spilling out.

So, I guess there was one positive thing to come out of that scene last night. ;-)
I learned that we gotta change that Wednesday routine...


  1. Heard this today and thought of you:

    1. Thankyou!!  Very interesting....Can't imagine this in Japan at all!