Sunday, 2 July 2017

Black Butterfly

First things first.

Okaasan is still in a better place, mentally.
Since last Monday she has been on new meds and so far the doctor is happy with her progress and stabilization.

And Okaasan is spending most days sitting upright in a wheelchair in the dayroom of the hospital - watching TV and even interested in newspapers. The restraints are used to stop her taking out the injection needles and tapes on her arm. The hospital will try to reduce their use...

She has slight pneumonia.....they are monitoring that.

All good. No feeling yet about when she might be ready to come home/move to a care home. Only 1 week so far of fairly stable condition.

BOTH of us went to see Okaasan in the mental care hospital yesterday.
It's a new, large hospital - nicely surrounded by gardens. Different buildings. I could see people sitting in day rooms with large tables and TVs...staring a bit vacantly.

There was a whole range of security systems to get in - and then the woman doctor came to meet us and I got invited upstairs with DS for the doctor/family meeting and Okaasan visit.

Okaasan SAW me and SMILED and WAVED!!!
As we came out of the elevator on our way to the doctor's room she was being wheelchaired to the meeting room - and she SMILED AND WAVED!!! I've never been so happy to see that!! Felt all overcome with emotion :-)

We sat and heard about the latest drug regime and how it seems to be working better. Her moods are better and she is more mentally alert.

And then the PET? MRI? photographs came out. I couldn't whip out my smart phone for a picture - so you'll have to make do with some stolen-from-the-internet images.

Okaasan's brain is like that right picture - she has a big black butterfly in her brain. It's the space. In Japanese the "heya" - which can be "space" or even "room". She has a lot of space, filled with fluid.

To be honest, it was a bit shocking. We've lived with her all these years and known her mental condition. But to see it in technical detail in a hospital. Kind of shocking.
In fact her brain has an even bigger, and fatter butterfly than this picture here. The doctor said she may have excessive brain fluid, which could be adding pressure...another hospital could ultimately do further scans and there are procedures to test by drawing out fluid thru the spine - and if it has good results to drain off fluid from the brain.

All a bit shocking to think of for an 86 year old, who has already suffered 6 weeks of hospital life.

That's a future possibility.

For now - the immediate concerns is continuing the drugs and hoping for another week or two of good mental/emotional condition.

And then we went to see Okaasan in the meeting room. Hiding our hospital visitor name cards. Sitting across the table from her in an all-white room. We stayed 40 mins.

She was happy to see us. Smiled. Looked tired. Kind of passive. Listened to our double-act, prattling on about stuff conversation (which we carefully did all in Japanese) and occasionally responded.

Yes, I've been to South Africa
Maybe Kenya
New York

Okonomiyaki pancakes? Yes, like those.

Dear Son had forgotten to take the holiday travel pictures to show her and chat about, so he and I waffled on and on. A strange conversation - Okaasan sat across the table from us and sort of followed it. The weather - food - travel - on and on.

Many years ago as a reporter in the UK I went with a woman to visit her son in prison. He'd hit another man with a baseball bat in a  fight and killed him. Mother was campaigning to prove his innocence. She invited me as a "friend" to prison visit, so I could write a story. We sat in the
prison visit room with her boy chatting about normal life beyond  the high walls - family news/food/sport...and it was pretty strange. 

Visiting Okaasan was like that. I think Dear Son was grateful to share the visit with me.


We can't really imagine Okaasan coming home for another few weeks....
Coming home. Care. Signing the documents about the house sale.

Any of that. Not yet.

And the whole brain fluid - whether it could be drained and make a difference? Not a priority.

So, there we are.
After the hospital DS and I biked downtown. Enjoyed the park on a Saturday - flower festival and sights. Rare for us to be together downtown.
We went to a big buffet place and ate ourselves stupid. There was a $6 dollar all-you-can-drink-wine plan. We drank. I ate ice cream with loads of dried fruits.
We came home and slept in the afternoon. 



  1. I imagine it must have been just surreal seeing in an x-ray like that. Kind of scientific solidification of how bad it as and how long it was probably growing. An operation at her age would be worrisome. A lot to weigh up I guess, especially if its just the two of you making the main decision because she is unable to. Big hugs to you. I haven't caught up on all the posts I missed but I will, just now right now, cause I stink. I've already had two showers today and I need another, at 10pm. Looking forward to running away to NZ winter next week <3

  2. I thought I'd posted a response to this, but maybe not. I read it and just felt so happy that okaasan had smiled and waved at you. Not surprised you felt emotional. I did! How lively. And I feel that is the real feeling coming out. (not that I am not acknowledging all the other things in your post)