Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas time again

This is sad.
I am updating a blog on Christmas Day.
And you are reading it.


But 'yknow, this is the first day with hours of empty nothingness I've had since...November?
It feels like it.
Endless year-end parties with students, classes, a mammoth edit job which I was determined to finish by Christmas. And all the usual shopping/sending panic. And some jazz concerts. Work/Tired/Fun.

Okaasan agreed to go to the supermarket with the day care woman by taxi. But I didn't get her in a bath. Shoot...maybe that means she hasn't had a bath for about 10 days....maybe I should.
Dear Son is away until next week, when he will be home for 2 days.

So. Okaasan and I for Christmas 2015.
I did it easy. Worked until about 4 pm on Christmas Eve and bought some fried chicken at the supermarket. Took it home to serve with veggies and a little wine. I decorated the table to show it was Christmas...and Okaasan and I sat down for dinner.
I called up DS on my smart phone video and he shouted greetings from the ski lodge at Okaasan, then we ate and I heard the wartime and food stories.....and after 45 mins I retreated upstairs to a Hugh Grant film and wine...

I didn't give Okaasan a present. Because I am sure she doesn't have one for me, and it would be awkward.  So, just companionship and food. Enough really.

A large piece of salmon got delivered the other by somebody. Okaasan just left it on the kitchen table under a bag. There is no note. She has no idea where the fish appeared from. Makes it impossible to thank whoever sent it....

And so.
I am driving to the ski school lodge this afternoon to meet my man and have dinner with him. Snowstorm here now. Hopefully ok. If the roads are  too bad I will turn back. There is a Christmas party at the lodge for the staff tomorrow, but I have plans with friends.
Christmas 2015.....

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Trying to bring about change...

He was home for two nights between ski jobs.
Arrived late on the 1st day, left early on the 3 rd day.....

It didn't leave us much time to make plans for change.
WE looked thru the elderly assist equipment brochures that day care gave us. We decided a chair/step that you put in the bath would be best - to make Okaasan's sitting higher. Then she can still sit with hot water around her and stretch her legs out...but when it is time to get out she will be able to firmly grasp the side of the bath.

And that is really all we decided. I guess he has ordered it. I don't know.

Okaasan was taken off in a taxi to the supermarket by the helper on Wednesday. I didn't talk to her that night, so I didn't get any complaints. DS says he will try to phone her every Wednesday afternoon to pump her up for going out for a useful walk.

So he is gone again, until December 28th.
I have lots of plans for the last week to Christmas, work projects to finish and fun things lined up.
Okaasan is just in her room.
I offered to take her to the supermarket today in the car, but she declined. I couldn't be bothered to force the issue with her. She asked about walking outside - but now we 've HAD 30 cm of snowfall that is out of the question. I could have taken her hand in hand for a walk...but I didn't.

Just leave her be. Feed her twice a day, take out the rotting food, give her money for the when day service come for the shopping trip. That's it.

I am nervous about getting into the bath situation and fight with her again.
I think I'll just leave her. Until we get the assist equipment.

My end of year work situation is busy - Okaasan and her needs are low on my Must Do list.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Not the best of weekends.

Started well. Very well.
First there was this.

That was Saturday. All great.
Came home mid afternoon, hardly any snow in the street now (big, strange warming here), so I let Okaasan go out on her own for a walk. I escorted her to the end of the street over a few ice patches. She came home 45 mins later looking very tired, with a bag of boiled foods - oden in Japanese - which had leaked all into the bag and down her trousers...
Anyway. Sorted her out. Made dinner. I went out to friends for dinner. All good.

Today. Not so.

Bath time. After 1 hour I went into the bathroom and suggested that it may be time to come out. She was not happy....I left her some more...then one hour and 15 mins later tried again. Started letting the water out of the tub to encourage her...
Didn't want her to get all faint again....
She was getting antsy with me. She didn't have the energy to pull herself up. I am trying to help. Putting my hands under her arms to give her a starting lift...she starts screaming at me and swatting at me with her hands.
My antsy is rising. Voices rising. I can't actually lift her because the bath is low in the ground....I expect the neighbors can hear us shouting...

I leave her. Go away to calm myself down. Check every 5 minutes. Worry a bit about her getting cold in the waterless tub. Bang me head on my hands.

After another 15 minutes she manages to get out by herself and is all sweetness and light. She has forgotten. I haven't.
Serve lunch and eat it with her. Wartime rah rah rah memories. Oh joy.

Mid-afternoon I suggest she goes for a walk, escort her out again. 
She starts to complain about "that woman who comes. That day service. I don't need that. Look! I can walk! It's a waste of money! Why does she come???".

Which of course is true. On a Sunday afternoon when I am not working, so I can cook lunch and dinner for her. And make sure she gets out safely. With door key, money, cell phone. On a day when there is no snow in the street. Today. But not usually in winter in Hokkaido. 

We have booked the once a week day service help from now till spring. Without knowing that a strange, unseasonable warming up would happen. A week ago there was snow. Now there isn't. Because in winter Okaasan needs to go out at least once during the week when DS and I are away working. She needs to get out of the house and have some mental/physical stimulation.

But of course today: she is doing that fine. She doesn't know this is an unusual day, doesn't know anything about day service ordering systems, our schedules yadda yadda...her own inabilities.

I see her off down the street. She is back soon with the same oden food as yesterday.

A few hours later I am prepping dinner.
She comes into the kitchen and starts in again on "WHY day care?????" etc etc etc. Her voice angry and rising. There is no reasoning with her. We go round in circles. She believes she does everything for herself.....she is unaware of the long, winter weeks when she just sits by the Tv with nobody, no conversation, no exercise....

I can't have Sunday dinner with her like this. Just can't.
I make an excuse about being tired. Which is true. Take food upstairs secretly and eat alone. Serve her dinner. Leave her to stew.

Dear Son tried talking to her after dinner on the phone. He is back next week. They will talk again.

With absolute bad timing the day service woman is coming TWICE this week - Wednesday as scheduled and tomorrow - because I am out from 9 am until late night, with two end of year work parties. I need the helper to feed Okaasan and feed the cats.
But of course there is a street with no snow and Okaasan will think - and will be right - that she can go out alone. Won't need the help that is coming. Will certainly get angry again...

Sorry. BOring blog. Just feel caught in a web of it all.
I wish it would snow so she is housebound and we can argue about the need for the helper's help.
Tomorrow I think Okaasan may send the woman away. I will try to leave the woman a note about Walking NOT Taxi with Okaasan....and hope that at least she accepts the helper escorting her down the road.
hate having to argue and negotiate all of this with her.

Can't cancel the booking - tomorrow is necessary as I am out till late. Wednesday is the scheduled visit.
The weather news says winter will return on Thursday.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Some days...

...just mean.

Can't be great all the time.
Tuesday night? I was pretty mean to Okaasan. Felt guilty afterwards. But also just let myself do it.
Sometimes carers are tired and don't give a ****.

End of a long day. Wanted to eat food and watch Tv and go to bed.
Had to paint on the friendly manner and smile for a bit at dinner. Failed.

I made the mistake (for both of us) of telling Okaasan that daycare helper was coming on Wednesday. She got all grumpy about "I don't need that". I got all grumpy about "Yes, you do, otherwise you will sit in front of that TV from Monday to Friday. It's helping you and us"...and it went downhill from there....

Next I criticized how she was gulping down the alcohol I'd give her...just a bit...but  drunk in under 1 minute.
She told me: "I've been drinking alcohol since I was a child. Are you really telling me how to drink?"
And I did.

So. Rest of dinner in silence and I left the table soon after.

Not great caring.
Sometimes all the resentment and meanness comes out.

And so.
Wednesday Okaasan went with the helper on this winter's first taxi ride to the supermarket etc. All apparently well.

I am just spiraling on in the usual end of year chaos. Just about keeping it all on track. 
I bought three Xmas presents. Ate one of them myself.
Haven't sent any cards. Have bought the Japanese New Year card bases, but haven't designed on written them yet. I have four work parties in the next 8 days, one teachers' party and a friend's dinner.
Kind of feel not in control much.

I want to escape it all and go skiing. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Winter weekend

Our first  winter weekend of the season together.

On Saturday I got her in - and out safely - of the bath. This time I walked right into the washing area and chatted to her about the water temperature - so that both of us get comfortable with me being there.
We've asked the Day Care people for information about making the bath safer. It is a long, deep tub and kind of swallows up little OKaasan.

Then gave her lunch, while I cleared snow and went to the gym.

Mid afternoon I took her downtown in the car. I had to walk around and locate a Christmas party venue for a class. Pre-Christmas madness was filling all the parking spaces, but eventually I found one a little far from Okaasan's favorite coffee shop.
But it made a good, underground walk for her - I installed her at a table in the coffee shop with a coffee, her favorite cake and a magazine I rushed out to buy. Left her there happily for 45 mins.
When I came back she was perfectly happy. I sat down. Drank a bit of water. Then brightly suggested we moved on "because those people are waiting for a seat!" - and she came willingly.
Walked her back to the car and home.
She followed me quite happily, didn't seem to want to go any further than I suggested. All the dashing Christmas shoppers made the experience quite a challenge I think. Probably enough.
While I went out to a party I left her with one of her favorite sushi box sets.

Sunday served her lunch, left her for the afternoon and then ate dinner with her.

All successful.

I used to stress a lot about spending time alone with Okaasan. Worried about my Japanese ability and how to entertain her. Now, more relaxed. Comments about the weather, rich Chinese tourists, snow, all drifts around.

Tomorrow she will get her first Day Service visit for this winter.
A student described to me how her mother goes five days a week to day service: lots of singing and handicrafts and laughter.
Makes me sad still that Okaasan doesn't get any of that. But her and her son's choice. If she were mother I would be hunting for a day service place that she liked and making sure she went along. But DS doesn't push and Okaasan firmly refused to go to the center she was attending 2 years ago (after a staff member brought her baby into the kitchen) that option - for now- is off the table.

Talking of Japan a kotatsu is a heated, low table with a blanket hanging down on four sides. Okaasan lives under one.

Last year we gave her a new kotatsu, because her old one seemed to have irregular heat. She was complaining of being cold.
But I kept the table equipment in the garden shed.

I've just brought it out and set it up. For the cats.

Chichi is in catty heaven!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Making a memory :-)

"I went to Kawagoe! I was born there!" Okaasan excitedly told the Day Care Manager when he came last week.

She remembered our trip 3 weeks ago.

Anyone who is living with dementia knows how special that is. A recent, new experience held on in the mind and shared with someone. Very special.

We are so happy. Makes it all worthwhile. Well, almost...maybe not that last-minute desperate packing scene....or the toilet floor saga.

No, seriously - it was very good. The manager man was surprised, and DS too. It means that the experience was good for her and she has kept that as a good memory.

So, the care management meeting for this winter. I wasn't there: but they have agreed to do the same as last year. Every Wednesday to come to the house for 90 minutes, take Okaasan out by taxi to the local big store, walk with her, shop with her and come home and make sure she has dinner. And feed our cats for me.....also made a booking for are on a night when I am out at a work party.
Okaasan's care needing condition is the same level as before. Her dementia level is a little more advanced, but not so much. A holding pattern all round.

Winter has begun.
DS left yesterday for his first 10 days of work at a ski resort far away.

I have control of the TV remote.
I have the cats.
I have ALL the planning/shopping/cooking/serving/washing up/cleaning duties in this home.

I have Okaasan care - bath times/exercise/clothes/room cleaning/money/chat duties.

I have wine.
Let it all begin for another winter.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


NOT back to normal, then.

Dear Son had a scare the other day when Okaasan seemed to be in the bath for a long, long time.

Finally, after many "I'm ok, thankyou" through the bathroom door he got worried, and opened the door and went in. Okaasan was floating face-up like Ophelia - with one hand barely gripping the side of the bath. Barely talking.
He hauled her out and onto a chair.
Then she fainted for a few seconds, he brought her round with water and chat - and 10 minutes later she was fine again.

But scary.

The day care people come today for a meeting, we'll get their advice about adapting the bath to make it safer.

Many elderly people have problems getting out of the bath of course. But the dementia aspect makes it more dangerous, as Okaasan has no sense of HOW long she is in the bath for and responds with "I'm fine!" to questions....when obviously not fine.

Okaasan's days of privacy in the bathroom are numbered. We need to be in the room with her much more and monitor her bathing.