Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Let's hospital.....

Okaaasan and me went to hospital. Oh yes indeedy.
A wonderful weekend of togetherness.

All started Saturday morning. In the toilet.
I'd had a party with students Friday night...eaten and drunk too much. Had an upset stomach. 
Thought that was it. Planned to spend the day quietly anyway with a Downton Abbey Season 3 and 4 DVD catchup. Felt a bit hungover.

Saturday passed. So so feeling. Quiet. Bit tired.
Lunch and dinner with Okaasan. 

Saturday night...Sunday morning.

Toilet hell. 
Both ends for me. Diarrhea and vomiting.

And the missing toiletmat told me Okaasan was having diarrhea too.

Sunday dawn I was in her room - weakly - checking for soiled towels and pajamas.

A kind friend whose husband has just spent a week in quarantine in the guest room with a stomach virus etc was advising me via Facebook thru the night and so I bagged up my and Okaasan's soiled clothes and two toilet mats and started the search for a hospital open on a Sunday.

I mailed Dear Son at the ski lodge. Told him that I was definitely going to get medicine. He agreed I should try to take Okaasan too. I'm 56 and can probably fight off a virus. She is 86.

I dreaded it. Really didn't have the energy to fight it out with her. Hospitals no no no...doctors no no....medicine....no no! I decided  to try and gently trick her into it. And if she fought me on it not to waste my dwindling energy on her.

She seemed fine. Of course didn't remember anything about her diarrhea. Even when I showed her the mat and pajamas covered with.....

At 10.15 am I entered her room and brightly suggested: "Let's go out! Nice weather today" She willingly scrambled up and started getting ready for "out". Hoping shopping and food. 

Instead we drove to a local hospital.
As we entered the parking area I made an excuse: "Oh, I was a bit sick last night, I need to get some medicine here, yes...yes...come in with me...waiting in the car is cold..."

And she came with me. No fight.

A full waiting room of zombies. Sweaty, dull, exhausted people. Influenza and stomach virus is everywhere here now. We registered and sat watching TV for an hour or more.
I had a temperature of  37. 4. Okaasan was 36.

Finally saw a breezy, cheerful doctor who managed to process us both within 4 minutes.

"Ichoen". Stomach virus. Not Noro Virus. Not food poisoning. Not infectious, unless you cough on people or share a dirty toilet seat.....and then eat food with your hands....

He questioned Okaasan, who agreed with the last thing suggested to her - without really knowing what was what.
"How many times did you have diarrhea? 4 or 5 times...?"
"5 times? yes, maybe..."

I was worse than her. Luckily. About to fall off the hospital chair actually.
They put me on a IV drip for 40 minutes.

OKaasan sat in the waiting room with all the sick people. She looked tired. She needed lunch. I needed my sofa and a blanket. But I couldn't think of easy food at home to give her, and I felt sorry that her trip out in the car was this tiring,. negative experience.

So, after we got our medicines I took her to lunch. Let her order what she liked. I ordered the smallest thing on the menu for me. And ate about 25%.

She was happy! Not a care in Okaasan's world!

THAT is all her lunch set. And still many Japanese people say - "Oh Americans/foreigners eat so much! The meals are too big"
Look at all of that. Soba noodles, 4 pieces of sushi, tempura and egg custard.

Made me feel ill just looking at it. But I managed to take away half the sushi and all of the tempura while she was looking at fallen bits of noodles on her lap. She didn't notice at all. Didn't notice the big space on the tray. Short term memory loss has its uses. The waitress looked surprised - specially as the sushi was hiding on the seat next to me. But I managed to make excuses and get it taken away.

And then. Medicine time!
"Okaasan, time for our medicine! Yes. You and me. The doctor said. Here you are. Yes. You should take this. You and I had bad diarrhea last night. very bad. Yes. We need medicine. I don't want to clear up the toilet again  this afternoon. Yes. Medicine. Here is the water. Here. Yes...here"

She took three pills.

Even exhausted. I was elated.
Mission accomplished.

Got her home. Got me to the sofa. Slept for 3 hours.
Went for a hair cut and gentle chat with my kind, sweet hairdresser at 5 pm.
Gave Okaasan small dinner and MORE medicine.
Ate half a piece of toast and dosed myself.

Slept for 10 hours.

Now? I still have diarrhea. Yesterday 70% energy. But I did classes and a magazine interview about Hokkaido tourism.
Okaasan seems fine. No diarrhea I think. My Friday night part students said in Monday class that they were all fine - it wasn't food poisoning from the hotel party food.

I'm still operating at 80%. And very careful what I eat and drink.

But. The GREAT takeaway from this is that I CAN manage Okaasan and a medical situation. I can trick her gently into coming to a hospital with me. And even into taking medicine.
That is a win-win.

Excuse me. The toilet is calling.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Don't let it be me

Don't let it be me to tell her...that her eldest son died.

Please. Not me. Too much to do.

I'm living a bit on nerves about this, because now letters are coming to the house that the post office are redirecting from the family home - letters with eldest son's name on them. Nothing personal, letters from utility companies mainly as they close down accounts.

Okaasan doesn't see the mail every day. She usually only goes into the entrance hall when the lunch box delivery comes. And the mail usually comes later. But still. I am nervous.

Dear Son came back last week from the funeral and house clearing. Came back with things he can use etc Things he wants to keep.
A house clearing company will go in this coming week and sort through, clear out the rest. It will cost about $10,000!!! Ten thousand dollars!!!!

And if he decides to sell the land and wants to demolish the house..that would be another $8,000 plus. 

He says he would investigate future use of the land. If he needs Okaasan's involvement in anything he would retrospectively tell her Older Brother died. "Well, he died, didn't he, last year...so we have to do something with the house".....she didn't remember the fact when twop of her brothers died...so a false-but-you-knew-this-didn't-you maybe a gentler way of giving her the information.

I'm hoping that will be the way. Not her standing in the kitchen holding a letter she's just found asking ME "Why is OLder Son's post coming to this house!!! Why???"  He is back skiing again, and home on and off until the end of February.

Dear Useless Brother - his death has softened me - is with us. With me. In the living room is a black framed photograph of him from the funeral, and a wooden stand with a paper attached. On the paper is his after-death name. Not sure how long DS will want to have that in the living room.

Meanwhile Okaasan potters on in life. TV and mealtimes. Day service trips to the supermarket. Lunches and dinners with me. Eating anything she can find.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

So. Life. Ongoing.

Oblivious in Hokkaido.
Our life goes on. Me and Okaasan. While Dear Son is away in the family home clearing up his brother's life. The funeral is tomorrow.

A few close shaves when I thought Okaasan might find out. But I think we are safe. 

The lock company sent the bill to this address, so suddenly there was a letter from Okaasan's hometown...from a lock company. Addressed to DS. She saw it. Left it on the kitchen table. No comment.

Then yesterday DS sent a large box of his brother's stuff here. Again, it was sent from the family home etc. By DS himself. If Okaasan had seen the box and read the labels.

But she didn't. I caught sight of the delivery truck and ran down to meet the driver in the hallway, so he never rang the doorbell. I could take the box upstairs out of sight.


She's had a good, normal week.

Two visits and outtings with day service.

Two baths and a hair wash. FINALLY I managed to get the timeing just right and get into the bathroom with her before she stepped into the bath. Cheerfully started in with the water and the shampoo. Just a little resistence, before she enjoyed it and let me go ahead.
I got soaked though. Glasses got misty. Sweater got very wet. Have to perfect that skill. Maybe I should be naked too???!!! :-)

Okaasan continued to eat vast amounts. 4 bananas one day - but forgot the lunchtime rice in the microwave. Ate a whole packet of cookies. Anything I leave out really. 
Making and  forgetting many many cups of tea. Or pouring cold water on the powder and then having to start again.

And today I took her downtown for a walk in the underground shopping areas and then a sit with magazines in her fave coffee shop, while I sneaked away to catch Pokemons.

No. That isn't brother sitting next to her! It's foreign man...who might not like his photograph on the Internet. 

Anyway. She was happy. Let me lead her to her usual shop to buy magazines, order the usual coffee and cake. Happy to sit for an hour. She's quite passive. Happy, I think. I brought the car outside the coffee shop so she didn't have to walk any more. Her walking is much weaker now.

And so.

Brother will be laid to rest tomorrow.
A sad life really. To die at age 60 from a medical condition you get from overeating and drinking. To die with nobody noticing. No friends worried about where you are. No close family to worry.
He was a nice enough man. I only met him three or four times. I kind of felt he was a product of the Japanese business world of the 1980s and 90s. All work for the company good. No time for self. Happiness was working and making good contacts for the company.

Now Japanese companies are better at monitoring their staff health. Advising people who are too fat and unhealthy. But in his days they didn't. Work long hours. Travel. Stay in hotels. Eat bar and shop food. Drink. And by the time he was in his late 40s he had diabetes. His sight failed in his 50s. He died at 60.

Meanwhile his younger brother jumped out of the company rat race. Quit the job in his 30s and went off to follow his ski dream. Same family. But so different.

Anyway. Sad.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Be careful what you write...

Oh my. 

December 28th? What did I write about older sibling? Oh.

He has. 

DS's older brother has died.

Alone in the family home. DS called the police on Monday after a longer than usual silence from his brother. Last contact was November 1st. Then no response to phone calls, e mails or a letter.

A lock company broke a window at the house and the police went into a place full of mail and rubbish. And found a man.

Now DS has gone to the family home area to talk with police, arrange a funeral and close a person's life.

Really, we are still in shock. Something that we'd joked about - black jokes, we are that those kind of people - but the reality is a shock. At the age of 60, probably from serious diabetes. Alone. Maybe in November or December?

In this blog this man has always been characterized by me as Useless Older Brother. Useless in relation to Okaasan. No care for her. No interest. No help.

But he was a real person. And he has died. 

So. I'll put the criticism aside for now and just record the fact.

Of course, we hope to NOT tell Okaasan. Probably fairly easy. There was so little contact between them. He never telephoned or visited. She never talks about him. The trip we did in November 2015 to visit the family was almost certainly the last family visit. Okaasan's brother, who was the focus of that trip, has since died. And now her eldest son.

Of course, there is the house. Japan is funny about inheritance. Most families don't have wills. It all just trickles down. The house still belongs to Okaasan. For DS to make decisions about the future of the house he will probably need Okaasan's participation. But that may be just a matter of using her seal on documents. Hopefully she won't have to attend in person - because THAT would be a whole confusing experience. She isn't mentally up to that, but she would think she was in charge. Maybe easier to actually wait until she has died? Just leave the house empty? Then it will legally belong to DS and he can act easily.

Anyway. All of that is to come.

For this week there is a funeral of a man who died. Of course, I am staying here in Sapporo with Okaasan. Life goes on as normal.

Be careful what you write...