Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The elderly. And the Infirm.

Dear Son.

What did he do to deserve this?

Two women who need his help in endless ways.....must have a whole lot of bad karma to work thru...

Sunday we went out and did a family trip to the shopping mall for lunch.

Dear Son had to help both Okaasan and Me get from the front door to the car safely, across the still melting, icy snow. Had to find sweater/socks/handbag/coat for Okaasan. Coat and keys for Me.

At the shopping mall he had to take Okaasan down the escalator. Then leave her gripping onto a rail. Run back UP the other escalator and help me hop awkwardly onto the moving top step...down two flights of escalators.

Then I hopped thru the shopping center with them.

Restaurant. Noodles for lunch. Okaasan ordered a huge set and Dear Son was in charge of sneaking food off her plate and finally halting her eating, eating....

Then they went shopping. I sat on a bench.

Then he went and got the car and helped his two old women back into the car, and drove us home.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

AND.....I've joined Okaasan in the soiled clothes routine....the other night I didn't have the energy to go back downstairs to use the toilet...woke up next morning with a Godfather-life-wetness-in-the-bed. Only it wasn't a horse's head.....

So Dear Son had wet sheets and pajamas and a soiled mattress....which he managed to move into our all day sunny office space - where a lot of baking powder and a hard vacuuming has hopefully cleaned it....Oh. I hate being like this. :-(

He's done a lot over the past 3 weeks. We've got stroppy with eachother several times.  But I AM so grateful to him.

I could give some thankyou back - let him go off yesterday and use two free movie tickets a student gave me. And I agreed that he could and should go ski working this weekend - it will be a boring old weekend for me....but I can just about get food on the table and wash up dishes. Feed the cats. Wash their dishes. Clean the litter box.

I think I can. I am getting around to most of my work solo now. With help from students and center staff.

Last night I walked 3 small steps into his waiting hands - like a toddler. The knee is still swollen and aches. Not big pain. But aches. Behind the knee muscles and ligaments seem....healing....

Oh. Just tired at the moment.

Many people with far worse problems....just feel sorry for myself. I'm not a good invalid.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

8 years ago.....

EIGHT years ago!!!! - we started life together in our new home - the big old concrete box near the subway line in the south side of the city. 
Friends helped us move and clean - our small apartment spilled out into a large house with big closets, we ate sushi as a first night dinner and our old cat Bob and the goldfish were with us.

Life really WITH Okaasan began. The first four months she'd lived in an apartment 2 doors away from our home - but the carrying food between the homes, the cooking, the was all too much - so we moved.]

What a lot of life and death we have already seen here. Bob-cat died. The goldfish ? What happened to them??? I gave birth to a garden. We discovered we had a huge garden shed. And BBQ space. Then my step-mum in the UK had a car crash, then dad died, then my step-mum died......then my ovaries multiplied and ballooned up inside me and I had 'em out....then kittens that grew into fat cats....and...and...and..

And Okaasan's dementia steadily grew. 
When we came here she would wash clothes by hand,leaving half-finished laundry all over the place - and go outside and hang it up in the garden. Go and re-hang MY laundry up in the garden too. She would wash dishes, Heat up food in the microwave. Read the newspaper. Change TV channels if it was boring. Go walking for miles late afternoon, ride the subway.....downtown alone. Tell looooong stories about the war and trips to New York and Australia. About family and husband. Take bath when we told her to - and get out of it alone.

8 years she has changed. Not as badly as we all thought. I think that is our care for her.
There is decline in her abilities, but less because she lives with us and we do so much to fill in the gaps. 

Thankyou if you have reading this blog since those days - since the peeing in trash bins, the domestic violence drama, the fights....

And today? We are going out as a sweet little family: lunch. A shopping center walk for Dear Son and Okaasan. A sit in the car and Pokemon hunt for me...

My knee?
The MRI showed a tear in the meniscus. The doctor says it should repair naturally. The behind the knee ligaments and muscles are improving and today I may stand and take a step. I have been practicing standing the last day or two. Trying to put weight to my left.
Strangely, the day we went to see the doc I was in tremendous pain in the knee. Don't know why. I cried my way thru the doctor talk and happily took painkillers. One day later - pain gone. Don't know WHAT I did to get that.

 I am getting around to my work - with Dear Son's help with the car if I can't park near enough the work place. He is shopping and cooking and doing so SO much.
I'm frustrated. But trying to accept. Go slowly. 

Anyway. 8 years in this house. Seems faaaaar longer!

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Still hobblin.

I don't know. Sometimes I think it is getting a little better...and then I move in a random way and there is a lot of pain. I can't put my leg straight. There is still knee swelling.

But sanity (and exhaustion) - I have gone back to work. With big help getting there etc.
Telling the same old story over and over again. Actually it's a good judge of student's real ability - how much they can ask and find out about the situation from me. Should use a Faked Disability as a level check for future students????

Her reaction.
Well, of course she sees me hobbling around with crutches and has asked three times why.

Ski accident.
Knee injury. Hurts

Oh? Skiing?


And that is about that.
That lack of empathy really. I could be wearing a bright yellow sweater with live kittens sewn into the sleeves....I think there would be the same response.

None of the: where/why/ advice?....shared tales....offers to help.

It doesn't matter. I GET all of that from wonderful students/employers at the community centers and my man....but it is interesting how she responds to obvious injury and pain and hardship in another.

Last night she watched me wash up all the dinner plates - sitting on a chair at the sink, with crutches to my left.....and there was no offer to help....nothing. Dear Son was chatting and she was responding....and nothing....usually Japanese women rush to help you even before you have an inkling that you might need ANY help....but no.

It's ok. Just a thing.

A shitty thing.
Dear Son had the full shitty experience.....he is a wonder...he cleaned up the soiled area, washed the clothes...washed his mother's body AND got her to wear a paper diaper.

He is a good man....

So. Spring is arriving. W"arm sunshine. Melting snow. I'm inside.

Going to try driving tomorrow to work. Can get to the classroom with the center staff's help. TUesday MRI.....Thursday MRI result.....

Heard a horror story from a student:
She fell while skiing a few years ago and drove home with pain.
Had pain the following week and went to the doctor. Got some pain killers.
Had a quiet life....but walked the dog and went shopping.
3 weeks later - THREE WEEKS! - she went to a different doctor and had MRI and they found the ligament had broken in her hospital for a month..physical therapy for three months.....

Oh God. 

But now she is skiing again :-)

I will return. I will return. I will.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Two old crocks

My left accident...on my birthday....

SO glad this house has some handles for Okaasan to help me get around!

Also so glad that Dear Son's ski season is nearly done and he can be home to look after two old ladies.

My 56th year started so well. Carefree weekend away with my man in the sun...skiing at two different resorts. Nice hotel, buffet dinner and breakfast. Yay! A little worried about the left knee, which has been painful since the stand-and-do-nothing volunteer work 3 weeks ago.
But determined to have fun.
Day 1. Fun.
Hotel and buffet dinner etc Onsen - Fun.
Knee a little sore. But ready for Day 2.
Day 2 - sunny - views for miles.
Skied from 9 am till 11.30 am - snow getting wet and heavy with spring.

Fell at the bottom. Skis over head. Knee screaming.
I actually got up and skied to the coffee shop. Remained determined over a coffee that I'd ski again. But then - after hobbling to the toilet realized it wasn't going to happen.
We came back. 

Now cancelled work, doctor checks. Pain. MRI next week....

Maybe muscles? Not ligaments. Not bone. Instructions to do nothing - just sit. Very hard for me... crutches. Drag myself to the toilet downstairs on my bum. etc etc etc.
GYAAAAGHHHHHH!!! That same old knee from a few years ago.

OKaasan hasn't seen me on crutches yet. Cos I ate all meals upstairs. Good excuse to escape family mealtime (a bit drastic, though).
She'll probably tell me I was over-eating - which was true with the hotel buffet to graze....

So. There we are. Back to damaged knee......bugger.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Cross-cultural mind f***

Knew that cheese fondue bliss would come back on me.
Cheese-overdose....night sweats, constipation...y'know....

Stupid cross-cultural living with a senior.
Rant follows.

It had been a good day, professionally and personally.
I'd taught my classes, visit-taught another teacher's class who love me. Been to the gym (and somehow toned up in after a month of gym absence)...caught some Pokemon. Planned some classes.
All good.
Came home for family dinner. Boring old oden, simmered pot of fish paste, seaweed and vegetables. But ok. Back on family duty time...

We had our beer. We had our food.
Dear Son and Okaasan were doing the ritual "cheers/kampai!" with their glasses, I was momentarily distracted by opening the mustard to the "cheers" a few seconds late.

"Sorry! I was focusing on the food! Not the alcohol! I was the working person today, so I was focused on the food! You both stayed home :-)"

Except it wasn't received with a Smiley face.

Okaasan looked grumpy and muttered something....

Dear Son jumped in to stop a Female Fist Fight....saying things about : "It's ok, she's a foreigner, it's different, it's ok, but you can't say that, it's rude..." etc etc

I was floundering in cross-cultural confusion.
What? What was rude?  What? Eh???

Apparently: my statement about me being the working person, and therefore more interested in the food - THAT was rude!

Even though....
-  it was said as a joke, with a jokey voice and a laugh
-  but is actually TRUE. They watched TV all day. I worked.
-  Okaasan often says: "I shouldn't eat so much, after all I didn't work today

what the F***????????

I shut up and ate the rest of my boring Japanese traditional dinner of fish paste stuff in silence. Fuming about stupid things in a foreign country. Feeling that horribly alone feeling, far away from good old England and my family and friends. Hating a culture where the senior can criticize a junior like this safe in the knowledge that respect-for-senior will prevent a fist fight, hating these strange family-relation situations. Hating living with another generation.


Thankyou. Rant finished.

If you are ever given a choice about Live with a Senior, or Don't.

 Choose: Don't.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ahhhhhhhhh. Happiness....

No. She didn't die!!!

But when my dear, sweet man said "What do you want for dinner tonight, when Okaasan has bought her own food at the supermarket with day service?"

There was only ONE answer!

We ate it together in the kitchen. Okaasan had eaten earlier in front of her TV. We enjoyed the cheeeeeeeeeeseeeeeee winery wonderful fondue.