Memories ...November 2015...
There we are, the three of us in Kawagoe, Okaasan's beloved home town. This was the trip we made to meet up with family members - while Okaasan could still enjoy the experience and one of her ailing brothers was still alive.
I can't remember exactly, but I think Okaasan and I went to Tokyo separately from Dear Son (he was already there visiting friends) and then he and I went to an Elton John concert in Yokohama and left Okaasan alone a few hours in a hotel room, with TV and green tea?
It was a successful trip of laughs and memory reliving. Also stressful, because 10 mins before leaving the house she still wasn't packed...and I have a memory that she fell inside a locked toilet cubical at a bus terminal and Dear Son had to climb into the cubical to free her? I should check back on the Blog for clarification. :-)
Anyway. 8 years ago.
Now Okaasan is in an elderly care home hospital in Sapporo. Living in a bed, her body hooked up to tubes which put nutrition in and take out waste. Not speaking anymore. Not eating. Understanding? Maybe....the immediate environment and hopefully happy memories like this.
We visited yesterday - still only allowed 15 mins a month.
AND>>>>> she was "asleep" again.
I say that in "" marks, because I think this time it was less actual sleep, and more drug induced closed-eyes resting. I noticed that one of the tubes had a tag with the words "Dopamine" on it - and reading a little on Google tells me this is commonly used to aid the elderly bed-ridden in swallowing, and to prevent pneumonia onset. I guess it also makes you "sleepy".
So, for our allotted 15 minutes of visit time, again, we sat bedside and talked and stroked her face. She lay there with closed eyes and occasion involuntary arm and face movements. Her eyelids moved more than before, so maybe it wasn't exactly sleep. But she looked peaceful enough.
And, to be honest, this kind of visit is easiest for us. We don't have to fill in the time with bright, friendly chat. We don't have to suffer her angry or sad expressions - and feel guilty. We just sit there and offer gentle comfort.
And then go home and get on with our lives for another month.
But still. 8 years ago Okaasan was chatty and active, enjoying a visit to her old haunts. Eating everything we put within reach and enjoying life.
I'm so glad we did that trip. A few years can make a whole difference in an elderly person's abilities and cognition. If you have elderly in your life - make real plans right now to go do that thing that'll make them happy!