Sunday, 28 July 2013

All OK now

Yup - I sorted out my split personality problems as a Blog writer...and have got the Comments under control again.
Thanks for some test runs.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


Sorry folks - I'm having problems trying to approve comments on this blog at the moment, seem to have lost an Approve button in my Blog dashboard - I'm not just being bloody minded ;-)
I DO appreciate comments.
Just bad at computers....
UPDATE: think i've fixed it, seems I had myself as two identities on the blog, one as Author and one as Admin. Just a reflection of my many-sided personality!
Can someone send me a comment - so I can check that the system is ok again? Comments please!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Teeth and Needles

Okaasan is STILL going for weekly dentist visits, usually taken before work by Dear Son.
In Japan dentists seem to take forever to do various treatments, and I know she is on old lady with rotting teeth and once in a blue moon tooth brushing - but even so.
I trust this dentist, cos I've known him for years, so I don't think he is doing needless treatments and buying a condo in Guam on our monies.
Weeks and weeks of treatment now.
I mentioned to Dear Son whether it was all really necessary, after all she is in her 80s, she is able to eat now without pain. How much dentistry is necessary?
He said her old fillings have gone rotten and there is food trapped inside and, and, and....

Could we do any better with Okaasan and her tooth cleaning? She hardly ever does it, and we don't press her. Hard to see how we can change this bad routine.
In the morning she goes to the toilet herself, but usually doesn't eat breakfast and doesn't wash or brush her teeth. She stays in her pajamas and watches TV.
She usually eats midday meal alone and then sleeps or watches TV again. In the evening we eat together, but she eats so slowly that we are usually finished and clearing our plates/putting away food and she is still picking up bits of salad with chopsticks and fussing around making green tea.
We escape back upstairs to our life and she is still in the kitchen. Then she takes her tea to the TV watching and falls asleep again.
I'm not sure where in this routine we should get her to clean her teeth. It seems strange to march into her room and say cheerfully: "Okaasan! Time to brush your teeth!". I am pretty sure we won't do this, and her teeth will continue to rot.....
We could - I guess - get the dentist to write Okaasan a note TELLING her to brush her teeth every day.....and then we can hassle her about it cos do-what-the-dentist-said.

Can we be bothered?
Would it help us down the road when she doesn't even know what a toothbrush is and what to do with it? Probably.!
A person with a huge fear of needles and injections. I run away at pictures of porcupines.

This week? I had acupuncture!
30 or more needles all over my back and knee and stomach and thigh.!!!
Didn't hurt, felt a bit strange inside at muscle level. Little stingy feeling when they came out. But felt fine.

A friend took me along to an acupuncturist because I've had almost daily groin and thigh spasms/cramps. Really painful. Been going on for a few months now.
Dr Google has told me about dehydration and magnesium, or calcium shortages, and I've tried changing my diet. I take care with Cutest Baby in the World and Cutest Heavy Cats.
But still the spasms grab me. I bend over clutching my thigh and stretching and groaning. Has surprised a few students mid-class.

So, acupuncture. The guy gave me little electric cup pads all over my body first, then needles and electric cords like car jump leads, and finally a massage.
He didn't think it was a lower back problem. Maybe the right leg protesting about all the focus in recent years on the left knee and thigh, maybe calcium shortage, maybe, maybe...

It was interesting. I think I will go again.
Since the treatment 2 days ago I have had spasms again, not so bad. But I think I will go again. I believe in this stuff about body power points and inter-connections.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Dementia care ideas

Came across two interesting media reports this week about dementia care.

The BBC had this report about dementia dogs - like guide dogs for blind people, but dogs to live with dementia sufferers and help them thru the day with gentle reminders about eating and medicines, and a focus to talk to and walk with.

Wonder if we could train our cats to do this with Okaasan? Come and paw her arm when it's time to go out for a walk? Nudge her about going to the toilet? :-)

The other report, is on CNN - about a wonderful care community in Holland - a real COMMUNITY - a home designed around a courtyard of shops and hairsalons, seating and public spaces, where all the staff "act" as shop assistants etc to the residents who come out and walk the community every day. Sort of like the Trueman Show, that Jim Carrey film. Seems wonderful. Giving dementia people the feeling that they are independently doing normal things, but within a controlled environment.

Interesting stuff.

Meanwhile here, Dear Son remembered to take Okaasan to the dentist again this morning. Getting her out so early was a bit hard. She fussed about stuff endlessly.

But it's a good week : I took her to the hair salon on Sunday, Monday she stayed home and Tuesday she went to day service. Life ongoing. I feel we are giving her the safe routines.

Laundry: when we first came to live here Okaasan was always doing her personal laundry, pants and things. Now she sometimes starts doing it - but leaves the wet clothes in the bathroom or in her room on the floor, or she puts clothes in plastic bags "for later". I'm doing 95% of it now.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

How does this place work?

Family trip to the revolving sushi restaurant last night.

After we sat down in our box seating the chef welcomed us and said: "Place your order with us, just tell us what you'd like".

It's the routine of a sushi restaurant.

It flummoxed Okaasan.

"Eh? this food here (pointing at the plates going round) is for other people? Can I take from here? This is other people's orders? That's right, isn't it? This is ordered food?"

We were flummoxed too. She's been to revolving sushi many times. She knows the system. It was very odd. How she put together the words spoken with the thing happening in front of her eyes.

After that we settled down to pig out. Okaasan grabbing plates she liked the look of. Grabbing plates she heard us talking about....and then HORRORS!trying to put one plate back on the revolving belt.

Nooooooooooooooooooo! Major rudeness in a sushi bar. Don't take a plate, peer at it, and put it back.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Recovery mode

Okaasan seems ok after the stresses of Sunday - physically after her fall and mentally/emotionally after the angery and stress.

He was working Monday night, so I came home from work and cooked up BBQ leftovers into a semblance of a dinner and sat quietly with Okaasan chatting about this and that. She did many repeats in her chat, but seemed happy enough. More focused on the two flies in the kitchen than on the food on the plate.
She'd taken herself out for a walk downtown in the afternoon - so there isn't any physical problem.

We guess.

Mind, first class on Monday monring has an 80 plus lady in it and SHE came to class this week with her arm in a sling and a bandaged wrist: she fell and cracked the wrist...but didn't realise there was a problem till 24 hours later when it swelled up!
Of course my head was full of Okaasan and the latest fall...I checked her hands etc and asked her, but she seems ok.
I think we are on borrowed time with these falls. How many times can an 80 year old fall down until it is a serious far only bruises and cuts.
i'm wondering if we can change the steps outside the front door, so it is safer for her?

Okaasan went off to day care today and I asked the staff to check her body when they are helping her at's SO lucky that she is going there and having a bath. Here at home she was taking a bath by herself (after we'd told her to do so and preppped everything) - so there was no chance for us to check her body for injury. But at day care it's a big Japanese style bath and the staff can be in the same room with Okaasan helping her with clothes etc.

How much longer can these falls be lucky?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Anger, anger...

NOT a good day for Okaasan.
Brilliant day for us.

I am sure we will pay for it somehow.

She sat ready all morning to escape our BBQ party. We'd arranged for a lunchbox delivery for Okaasan, so that we didn't have to do her lunch prepping just as guests were arriving for the BBQ. Seemed liked a good idea...we kept telling her, so she  wouldn't go out.
Also kept telling her that she didn't NEED to go out, that she could just sit and have her normal day with the TV etc...tried.

But the delivery didn't arrive at 12 o'clock.
Instead the temperature rose, the noise in the garden rose...and Okaasan's hunger and tension matched it all. I started giving her food from the BBQ on little plates....and she got stressier and stressier.
Finally at 12.45 pm she decided to evacuate. Pretty unhappy with all of us. Pretty rude to me when I checked to make sure she had money for outside food purchase.

The fact is, with our house layout - Okaasan could just stay in her rooms and use the toilet without hardly seing the BBQ. But she could hear people arriving and hear the alcohol-juiced noise.

At 1.20 pm the delivery lady arrived with the lunchbox. We complained a bit.
"Oh! The lady we deliver to said later was ok, she said she was always home and not doing anything and that anytime was ok, 1 pm or anytime!".

agghhh.......THAT'S why the lunchbox delivery has often been late recently!
Okaasan herself had told the delivery people that "anytime is ok".
But it isn't. Really isn't. She doesn't eat breakfast and usually has lunch anytime after 11 am.....
Okaasan unknowingly made her own life harder by saying her usual little spiel of food-isn't-important-to-me-anytime-I-once-didn't-eat for-a-year-and-look-at-me-I'm-healthy...

So, standing in our garden with a BBQ party in full blast around us we set the nice delivery lady straight and asked her in future to follow instructions by the customer who pays: Dear Son, and not the person who eats....


Not sure how many people came - awesome BBQ though. A good mix of people, food and drink - and various friends meeting eachother for the first time - oh YOU are that person on Facebook comments! etc - and the crazy noisy man two streets away came and shouted at us, and the neighborhood kids came to hang...and the sun blazed...and the whole upper body and head heat rash I've had since Friday blazed too....

About 2.30 pm Okaasan came home, surprisingly soon. Seemed more settled.
She walked thru the party to the front door, saying "Hello" to people. Headed for the steps.

And fell. Staggered and fell into the flower bed.
Huge gasp from our guests and the strongest guy rushed forward to pick her up...bruises and little cuts only...maybe...LUCKILY about 20 cm away from the stone garden ornament carved by my Dad.
Wouldn't that be darkly ironic, if my late father's stone bird was instrumental in seriously injuring my partner's mum???

So, I got her inside and settled in her room with the fan, a cool towel and the TV....


6.45 pm I start prepping Okaasan's dinner (actually replating the uneaten lunch box).Okaasan saying "Yes" to wanting dinner.
Then"No", then "Yes".
Then angry about the guests still being outside...worried about the neighbors, worried about the noise, worried, angry, DON'T want dinner....angry...angry....

We get rid of the guests by 8 pm...and finally Okaasan comes to the table to eat food in silence.

And we have a garden and house full of BBQ stuff to clean.....

Next year? What do with her?
One year I bought her a ticket to go to a jazz concert while we were having a party, but that kind of plan also means she would be fussing to leave the house amid a kitchen full of BBQ prepping AND she might need help getting to the place.

Obviously make sure her lunch is ready at 12.
But you can't send BBQ guests home much earlier than 8 pm.
We have one big BBQ party a year and Okaasan just has to lump it...but...but...she hates the whole thing.

I'm sure there will be repercussions of her anger this week. Hopefully just emotional angst from the anger and nothing seriously physical from the fall.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

BBQ Day dawneth...

...and Okaasan is ready to leave the house.
At 7 am.

Every year we have a big BBQ with 30-40 people and 3 days of prepping/having/cleaning up.

Okaasan gets stressed about it. Strangers coming to the house - and she prefers to go out walking downtown. The worst times were when she didn't want to come home and hovered down the street in the evening, peering at the house and garden and waiting for it all to be finished.
Even yesterday she knew something was up.
"Is there some schedule today? Can I go out?" she asked.

This morning at 7 am she was already half dressed and sorting thru her handbag. Usually at 7 am she is in her pajamas, stretched out on the carpet and watching TV. And will stay like that until lunchtime.

But today she tuned into us in the kitchen prepping stuff and obviously noticed the mountain of BBQ stuff in the hallway....

We talked to her several times AND gave her a large note for her table: there IS a BBQ today, but you don't have to change your routine. Lunch is ordered for you, dinner will be made for you. The guests won't come into the kitchen or your room. Relaaaaaaxxx!!!
Hmm... she is still sitting there with her handbag, ready to take flight.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A MODEL son.....and a model.....

He remembered - took Okaasan to the dentist. Mass apologies all round.
Son duty done.

And then....meanwhile...100 km north of that...more interesting......

Oyomesan cast off her domestic shackles and became a model - for a day.

A friend whose daughter does model work introduced me to a local model agency who were looking for a middle aged woman to play MOTHER of the bride in a brochure photo shoot for a Hokkaido wedding company.
Mother of the bride. I am officially middle aged. Despite wearing shorts and Tshirts and no make up (ever)...I am now publically typecast as a Middle Aged Woman.
It's everyone's dream, right? We all secretly prance around our bedrooms, hand on hip and do a twirl. Hope to get spotted for our true beauty in the supermarket?
This was my chance. Night before I shaved my legs, shaved my moustance, attended to the nose hair and fretted over the cat scratches and bruises. Ready for my close up.
Took the train north with a fellow teacher/part-time model who was my husband for the day and we arrived at a European castle style wedding complex in Asahikawa.
Met our "daughter" - a sweet faced 17 year old professional model from the Czech Republic (who WAS scouted in a supermarket whileout with her mum!) and the son of another local teacher who doesn't talk much at his Sapporo high school about his model gigs. Modeling for a young guy isn't cool.
After lunch with the camera crew, dresser, make up guy, lighting guy and casting director The Family were ready for performance time.
Enjoy....(we did!)


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Is dementia catching?

Dear Son.
FORGOT to take his mother to the dentist.

He took the day off - actually so he could watch his team Brazil in the final game of the Confederation's Cup - and then he twittered around the house all day, watching TV, playing with cats, scratching his bollocks....and sometime after 3 pm the dentist's staff telephoned to check whether Okaasan was ever coming to her appointment!
He completely forgot.

Embarrassing. Last week Okaasan got to her appointment 40 mins late after failing to find it. This time Dear Son had a mind blank. It's a one-man dentist business - so two mucked up appointments is very much wasted  time (like my business, so I sympathise). There will be major apologies when they go for the rescheduled appointment. He may even have to take another day off work to make sure she gets there because I am working out of town (more of THAT later!!!).

Actually I think he was pretty shocked. Recently he forgot several other appointments too - he is just a little paranoid about what this means.
I think it just means he should stop scratching his bollocks so much. And focus.

Otherwise all well here.
Last week day care took their charges out for a cheap sushi lunch at a revolving sushi bar. Okaasan loved it. She was ready to go well in advance, and she has been talking about it since then. She hardly ever talks about day care after she's been - not much more than a general "Yes, it was fun" - but this time the sushi outing clearly made her happy and she has remembered it.

And I escaped for the weekend and went to visit friends who run the family onsen - and to visit 5 big gardens out in the center of Hokkaido. Mainly British style gardens - blue sky and sunshine - flowers and food such as carrot cake and scones.....happiness for an ex-pat Brit.