Thursday 1 February 2024
Friday 19 January 2024
Belated - but Happy New Year to anyone who still drops by to have a read here!
Remember this card? Designed by the son of one of my students for 2012. This was the last dragon year in the traditional Chinese/Japanese zodiac.
Dear Son, that English woman, Okaasan and two adorable little cats.
Dear Son - isn't a ski teacher anymore. House husband and snow clearer.
English woman - working hard to pay the Japanese government all the taxes they want.
Okaasan - in a bed attached to tubes, unable to talk or eat.
Little cats - one dead, and the other a fat, old boy who yowls in his waking hours.
Ahh, the memories!
This winter he and I have stayed home a lot. I hung out with friends over the holidays, catching up on lives now the Pandemic has ended and people are meeting again.
The friend who used to live in Sapporo with her baby and husband visited over the holidays because that baby is now old enough to take entrance tests for private junior high schools! And he got into one of them and they will move back here in spring.
My knee is little by little stronger - and in fact yesterday he and I went to have a VERY gentle, short ski on the local hill. Huge step for me. I had actually given up on skiing. But I could do it! In the sunshine and with wonderful snow it felt great.
This morning the knee is a little sore...so I must be careful. But after 2 years of no skiing - progress!!!
We visited Okaasan last week.
She was awake. Eyes mostly open, the head shaking, the not-so-happy sounds....eye contact a bit. 15 minutes of bedside words and hope.
Care homes and hospitals here are often still restricting family access, due to Covid. I guess we should just be grateful that they are letting us going in at all. :-(
So here we are in north Japan ^ lots of snow here finally. And soon Snow Festival and the visitors that always brings. Onwards into dragon year - with POWER in whatever you do :-)
Friday 22 December 2023
Because there isn't much Okaasan and Me on Christmas 2023.
There she is in the picture above - maybe 7 years ago...in our kitchen at home, opening a present from me as I served her some kind of seasonal meal - and Dear Son was away ski working and partying at a ski teacher's home in the mountains.
And the 2nd picture is maybe 5 years ago in the first care home - we took in a present and some can drinks. Sat in her room and had some chat, pushed the wheelchair up and down the corridor and looked at the city view from the windows.
This year. Okaasan is in a hospital bed about 3 km from here. Tubes attached. Hasn't eaten anything for two years. Can't sit up in bed. Sometimes awake and maybe conscious of who is near her.
We visited her this week. She was awake - but to be honest, I wish she hadn't been.
At the beginning of our allotted 15 min visit time she looked at Dear Son, then moaned and gurgled loudly...shaking her head violently. Then she shut her eyes. When he stroked her head she basically flinched away. So he stopped.
We sat and talked soothingly. We played White Christmas from YouTube on my smartphone. She kept her eyes closed. Her breathing calmed down.
Then we came home. A bit shocked and silent in the car.
He was sad to his mum this way. Was she happy? Was she angry? The nurse said she often makes those sounds/movements if they do something - like moving her in the bed, changing the tubes. They don't SOUND like happy sounds.
Hard to know. I tried to reassure him that it could be confusion sounds, kind of raw emotion. Not necessarily anger or unhappiness. But even I don't believe my reassuring attempts.
Oh god. Please don't let the end of my life be like this.
This week a British Tv personality called Esther Rantzen has joined the Swiss assisted dying clinic and says that is her way out if her cancer treatment isn't successful. If I lived in the Uk I would do exactly the same. But the reality of me aging or sickening here in Japan is that I can't see HOW I would make the long flight to Switzerland to die there.
Dear Son and I talked about assisted dying the other day, how neither of us wants to be in a hospital bed for years, attached to tubes and non responsive.
"But Okaasan's situation is harder" he said....meaning that she IS responsive. She knows when somebody is there bedside, she maybe knows it is him (and me)...
We are both pretty certain Okaasan herself would never have wanted to be like this. But there is no other choice. When she stopped eating the doctors inserted tubes, and that went on from a week or two, into a month...and then into a year...now two.
And at that time 2020 she was fully conscious, able to understand the world around her. If assisted dying was possible in Japan, is THAT the point she would have chosen it? Is that the point I would chose to die?
Would I value my life and want to continue doing it in a hospital bed, with tubes. Watching the TV, listening to music/podcasts and having visitors. I guess that is doable. At what point would I decide it wasn't?
However, the dementia makes all of that less and less certain. If she didn't have dementia, I guess now we would visit and have a few short conversations with her. Tell her about our lives, chat about the pretty flower arrangement and Bing Crosby songs. Maybe she would watch TV from her bed. Maybe she would laugh with the chatty nurse.
ALL of that would be a life. Some kind of life.
But, what she has now is bed. Sleep. The sound of TVs nearby. Apparent stress when people do things to her. Memories? I hope she has happy memories, at least.
If we could visit more and longer, we could try to make things better for her. Play her music, massage her hands, chat brightly. Bugger COVID and the ongoing restrictions at this hospital. 15 mins a month is an impossible situation to make any meaningful difference.
Oh bugger. Pretty depressing.