Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

Lori dropped by this morning with her parents and some food. She brought over macaroni salad, poke, and mochi. In Japanese culture, mochi is very important for the New Year. For lunch Mom wanted mochi, so I put some kinako on a plate, topped it with mochi, & microwaved it. Mom loved it!

There was a replay of the Lantern Floating Hawaii celebration in May 2016. I have seen the From Hiroshima to Hope remembrance in Seattle in August, where 3,000 lanterns are released on Green Lake. Hawai'i's Memorial Day lantern floating releases 6,000 lanterns at Ala Moana Beach Park, along with larger lanterns on small boats. The Hawai'i lanterns are on bases with bows, while the Seattle lanterns are just on squares of wood. I think the difference is because the Hawai'i lanterns are released in to an area with some small waves. The lanterns in both Hawai'i and Seattle are collected at the end of the events. (The small boats are similar to those that I remember being set adrift as part of the Obon celebration when I was a child.)
Lanterns floating off Ala Moana Beach Park, with many more still to be released. (screen shot from TV)
Aerial view of lanterns, stage illuminated in upper left. (screen shot from TV)
Small boats with lanterns. (screen shot from TV)
When I was growing up, New Year's Eve got very noisy with all the firecrackers going off, especially at midnight. If you weren't prepared for it you would be in for a big surprise. The air would get so smoky that asthmatics would need to use their inhalers for relief. Now you have to get a permit & each permit has a limit for the amount of fireworks that may be purchased. During the early part of the evening, when it was illegal to set off fireworks so there were only a few pops here and there, the cats were fairly relaxed. After 9 pm when it became legal and it got a little louder and more frequent, Shiro decided he needed to hide for a little while so he crawled behind the TV wall. He came out about an hour later when he realized no one was coming after him. I hope he remains calm at midnight when it will get really loud. I hope Xander's asthma stays under control. (I gave him his prednisolone pill this morning. I'll give him another in about an hour.)

Happy Birthday to Amy & Trevor! Happy Anniversary to Terry & Pam! 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Dr. Choy & the MRI

Mom was dizzy again today but had additional symptoms. This afternoon her left inner ear started hurting and when she turned her head to the side she got severely dizzy. I called the Kaiser nurse help line, they were able to get her in to see Dr. Choy at the Kaiser Mapunapuna clinic. On our way Mom began complaining about her right inner ear hurting. Then as she got out of the the car she got very dizzy. Dr. Choy checked her out within 15 minutes and found ... nothing! Even the pain in her ears stopped; very frustrating. He sent Mom in for a brain MRI to check for a cerebellar stroke. He said it could account for the dizziness and would not have shown up on a CAT scan or anything else. Mapunapuna is on the other side of the freeway from Moanalua where the MRI is done; we were able to get in immediately so that was handy, no running back again tomorrow. They sent us straight up to the diagnostics lab.

The MRI scan went well, they got it on the first try. Mom got dizzy getting in and out of the MRI as well as when they were wheeling her back, there were a lot of turns to get to and from the waiting room to the actual diagnostics room. Results will be back tomorrow. Since Dr. Choy will not be in, he gave us a number to call to get them.

Here's the kind of diagnostics Mom really likes.
CAT scan

Mom wanted miso shiru for dinner, so I had to stop to pick up some things she absolutely had to have in her miso shiru: tofu, kamaboko, & daikon. When I stopped at Foodland, I had Mom stay in the car so that I could get in and out quickly. I tell her to stay in the car, then I lock it so if she opens the door to get out, the alarm goes off. When the alarm goes off, it startles her and she stays at the car trying to figure out how to turn it off. It also lets me know she has opened the door so that I can get back quickly just in case she does leave the car.

Curt dropped by to check in and see how Mom was doing. He brought us some leftovers from a year end party that DT was at, so we had pork spare ribs and orange chicken with our miso soup.

Happy Birthday to Bria!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Visiting Mrs. Vea

We went to visit with Mom's good friend Mrs. Vea today. She fell about 2 months ago & fractured one of her vertebrae so has not been getting out of the house until recently. Earlier she was in a wheelchair because she was in so much pain. She is now getting around with a walker and her spirits are high. She told Mom she had to listen to what Curtis & I tell her to do.
Mrs Vea & Mom.

It didn't make a difference, Mom still argues that she doesn't need to do what we tell her to do. Tonight she did not want to walk with her cane, sit down on the seat when she was in the shower or later when we were putting the lotion on, or put enough lotion on to keep from itching. This side effect of the dementia is very frustrating, because she doesn't make any sense when she argues. Tonight she said I did not need to take care of her because she was not paying me so I was not a caretaker. Then she said she would sign a statement saying I was not her caretaker so I was not responsible for anything that happened to her; she did not realize that with the dementia that signed statement would be meaningless. Oh well. After her shower it was all forgotten, my main strategy to deal with the less than rational thoughts is to wait.

I am getting closer to getting a new 2016 Subaru Outback, which will be a lot better for Mom & Dad; it will be a lot easier for them to get in and out of than the RAV4. I stopped by the dealership to put down a deposit to hold the car while I get the rest of the paperwork together. I need to contact my insurance agent & have an insurance binder showing that the credit union is the lien holder. Then I need to take the purchase order & insurance binder to the credit union to get the loan approved & the check sent to the dealer. I need to give the dealer 2 days to prep the car for pick up. It turns out, if I had bought the car on the Big Island there would be an additional dealer fee. It's probably a wash since it will cost me about $450 to ship the car to the Big Island when I move there permanently; but in the meanwhile it is easier on Mom & Dad.

It will also be a lot safer; it has 7 airbags, one in front of the driver, the front passenger, & the left and right rear passenger seats, curtain airbags on both sides, and 1 at the driver's knees. The other feature that I think will be great is the seat warmers in the front seats. Kai's old Volvo had seat warmers and they were great in the winter; I could overlook all the other idiosyncracies of that car when I drove it as long as my butt was warm. I don't need that here, but Mom really does due to the anemia caused by the leukemia. That along with the individual heating/cooling controls for the driver and front passenger will really help keep her warm when it is 80 degrees F in the car and I am sweating and she is freezing.

Happy Birthday to niece Sarah! And also to Jesse, Eric, Lynne, and Ava!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Anti-Itch Lotion

Even with 3 bottles, we ran out of lotion for Mom last night. So I went to Longs Drugs today to get more. As I mentioned before, I decided to go with the Curel since it had "itch defense" in its name. While at Longs I discovered the CVS store brand right next to the Curel has a similar formulation. It is conveniently named Anti-Itch Lotion. And its about half the cost of the Curel. So that's what we now have.

Mom is still having dizzy spells. Which is a good news, bad news type of thing. Bad because she is dizzy & needs a lot of supervision when she tries to do things, like stand up. Good because the dizziness makes her not want to do much so she spends a lot of time sleeping or lying down; which means I can run errands while she is asleep.

Today while running errands I stopped at the Subaru dealer to check on the cost for a 2016 Outback. Earlier this morning I had searched on-line and got a quote of $30K. When I stopped in I asked if that was really the best they could do. It turns out the one shown had a moon roof which I did not want so that brought the price down, then they wanted to move it off the lot; so it went down to $28.5K. Then I went to the Hawaii State credit union to find out how much I could get a loan for. In a matter of 10 minutes Patrick the loan officer approved me for a $29K loan at 2.49%.

Dad likes peanut butter. And a lot of friends & family know that. So sometimes he receives gifts of peanut butter or similar things, like Speculoos Cookie Butter. I'm out of my regular peanut butter which is just ground peanuts from the co-op, no salt, no sugar, just peanuts. I found the cookie butter in the cabinet and decided to eat it since Dad never would; it's got to be Skippy's or he won't touch it. And we really couldn't give it away since the Best By date was April 2016. The first day I used it like I do my regular peanut butter, I filled all the holes in the waffle. Not a good idea! It was sooooo sweet it gave me a headache. Today I used it very sparingly and it was better.

Happy Birthday to Jennifer!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Still Dizzy

Mom was dizzy again today. I couldn't really tell if she was less dizzy than she has been for the previous 2 days since she spent a lot of the time lying down. I gave her the meclizine so it might be helping. But, still hard to say if anything is helping. I talked to Dr Chan's nurse today; he is Mom's oncologist. With the current symptoms, he is not concerned. I just need to keep an eye on her and walk with her whenever she is moving around to stabilize her if she starts to list. Which means I could not run errands today while she slept, just in case she got up & needed to go to the bathroom.

I spent a bunch of time cleaning up Mom's collection of disposable containers and styrofoam trays. Amazingly, Mom was not upset by it. She actually started the clean up herself but could not stand up to finish it.

While I was cleaning up in the living room I found the book, Christmas in Scandinavia. It was about traditions and recipes from Scandinavian countries. I don't drink, but this recipe sounds like a bad idea. It would probably make you dizzy ...

Happy Birthday to Rosalinda!        

Monday, December 26, 2016

ER #11 & Transfusion #15

Well I could not end the year without another trip to the emergency room. This is #11; if it were spread evenly throughout the year it would mean I was at the ER every 4 weeks & 5 days. However, since it started on June 12th, I have been visiting the ER on average every 2 weeks & 4 days since then; although for the first 6 weeks I was at the ER every week. (FYI - I was the patient only one of these 11 times.) This time it is for Mom's dizziness which has continued from yesterday when none of the things I tried to reduce the dizziness helped (more water, food, elevate legs). And now she sometimes feels a little dizzy even when she is lying down. I called the Kaiser nurse advice line and they wanted her brought in to the ER.

Dr. Fujiwara checked a bunch of things and found nothing. He did a CAT scan. Nurse Steve also took 4 vials of blood; the only thing they found is that she is low on platelets so they gave her a platelet transfusion. That's #15 on the transfusions this year. Mom got sent home with a prescription of meclizine and an admonition to ask for help when standing & walking in order to reduce falls. They really didn't give her a diagnosis; they're just treating the symptoms right now. I need to call Dr. Chan tomorrow to check in with him on whether there is anything else he wants Mom to do.

When we arrived at the ER there were no wheelchairs because there were so many people in the ER waiting room. And although Mom keeps telling medical staff that there is nothing wrong with her, they took her in rather quickly. So quickly in fact, that she was already in a bed by the time I got back from parking the car. Being old has its perks!

Mom got to use one of their new pieces of equipment today, the Sara Stedy. As usual, she needs to go to the bathroom frequently, so Nurse Kamaki brought in the Sara Stedy and helped her get to the bathroom. After she was done he left it in the room so that it would be there for her next trip.
Mom & Nurse Kamaki with the Sara Stedy.

Nurse Kamaki was assisting on another occasion when Mom was in the emergency room. He's the only one of the 5 medical staff that we saw today that worked with Mom before.

We were there about 6 hours. During that time we saw at least 3 patients that were in beds in the aisles because there were so many people there today. It was looking like one of those TV medical dramas. I started dinner as soon as we got home; while we were eating Dad asked Mom what the doctor said and she told him she didn't go to see the doctor today, she was home all day! Even though I know what the dementia does to her memory its still surprises me when she says things like this.

Mom continued to be dizzy throughout the evening. She was not too good about telling me she wanted to stand up & do something, I had to observe her having difficulty and step in to help. I hope I can hear her waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Mele Kalikimaka!

After breakfast, we opened presents. Mom & Dad had different ideas about opening presents. Mom was totally focused on opening them very carefully so she could give the wrappings back to Lori to use next year. Dad honed in on the cookies; he didn't open any presents.
Mom started on presents, while Dad finished his coffee.
Mom meticulously unwrapped presents, Dad ate cookies.

Mom got a cat shirt and purple pajamas. Purple is her favorite color. And she now likes cats; she tolerated them but didn't like them when we were growing up.

We spent a quiet evening at home. From the time she woke up Mom had been having dizzy spells. In fact, when she woke up & tried to go to the bathroom, she was so dizzy she fell on the bed. Throughout the day she had bouts of dizziness. I think it might be a positional vertigo since she also experienced the dizziness once when she went from a sitting to a lying position. Positional vertigo can occur in older persons for no underlying reason. Dad was feeling too cold to get out of bed. Curtis came over and picked up the rolls, pie, and salmon and took them to Aunty Judy's house.

Merry Christmas to All! And Happy Birthday to Lorna & Alvin!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Good Bye, Cheryl!

My friend Cheryl passed away last night after a valiant fight against breast cancer that metastasized to her liver. Cheryl's husband Dan passed in March of this year from a brain tumor; they will be together for Christmas. Here she is at a luncheon with co-workers back in October.
Cheryl is in the front row, 2nd from left with the bunny ears.

Curtis, Lori, & Brent dropped by this morning with Christmas presents. They also brought a Christmas pineapple for us since Mom & Dad no longer have any tree hardware or Christmas decorations.

We're all going to Aunty Judy's house for Christmas dinner. I spent several hours today making the Fluffy Dinner Rolls to take as part of our contribution. I really like this recipe since I can make it a day ahead and the rolls are still nice and moist. Tomorrow I will be busy baking a pumpkin pie and a salmon.

This afternoon Mom was worrying over 2 Veterans Administration letters she found that Dad had received. In March. One needed to be returned within 60 days or any dependents would be removed, since it was way more than 60 days and Dad really has no dependents, it was moot. I told Mom it was no longer valid and she said it was OK to write that no action was needed, so I did. The other was just requesting a copy of Dad's Advance Directives. After dinner she was bugging Dad about them. Then she read the note that she told me to write on one of the envelopes. She told me to stop opening their mail and reading it and making decisions without their input! Note to self: Make Mom write her own notes on the envelopes.

You may recall that when we returned from Las Vegas in early November, Mom's skin was itching a lot and Dr. Pham recommended applying a moisturizing lotion twice a day. I found an article on lotions & bought 3 of the higher rated ones and have been using them on Mom every day. After almost a month of using them I am ready to release the results of my less than scientific "test". They all worked well at stopping the itching and subsequent open sores & bleeding BUT only if I had Mom use them every day, twice a day, AND in generous amounts. Palmer's has a great fragrance of chocolate when it is initially applied. Gold Bond seemed to work the fastest in the beginning when her skin was really dry, but later all worked equally well. Due to the dementia Mom is fixated on wanting her "itch cream", she doesn't understand that the benadryl cream is not what has stopped the itching. Because all the lotions work well, I have decided to use the Curel since "itch defense" is part of it's name and I can point it out when Mom demands her "itch cream".

Happy Birthday to Vernon!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Jane's Christmas Trees

Today's highlight was going to visit Jane & her Christmas trees. Each tree she sets up has a theme, usually she has 3 trees, this year she added another.
Mom & Jane
Precious Moments tree
Handmade ornaments tree; Kaiau in foreground by tree.
The moving ornaments tree ...
... with a color-changing Death Star tree topper.
The Disney tree is the new tree.

After the tour of the trees, we had lunch.
L to R: steak, somen salad, chicken, shrimp in wonton wrappers, salad, & rolls.

Mom's thumb looks great! I took the last bandage off on Monday ( 4 days ago). It is totally healed, now she needs to spend time moving it and bending it to get the full range of motion back and ease the swelling.

I did 2 loads of laundry this morning before we went to Jane's house. Both loads were primarily things from Kohala. I brought them back to clean them up, some had become a little damp while in storage & were starting to mildew, others were in drawers full of termite frass. I had to tie a rag on the outlet of the hose to keep water from splashing out of the laundry tub.

I washed all the dish towels from the kitchen drawers. One of the things I discovered while I was folding the laundry was 2 Russian dish towels. Not sure where Grandma would have picked them up; I can't imagine any of the stores in Kohala importing goods from Russia and I know she never made a trip to Russia.
From Russia, With Love.

Happy Birthday to Jody & Mariangela! Happy Festivus to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mom Meets Ellie's Relatives

Mom had a great day meeting with her friend Eleanor's relatives, some of whom are here visiting for a reunion of 70 or so family members tomorrow. Ellie's granddaughter Dynke, her husband Jens, and sons Johan & Aksel are visiting from Denmark. They arrived in Hawai'i about 3 weeks ago and were actually on the Big Island almost the same time we were; but they were in Hilo on the east part of the island and we were in the north end. Dynke brought a bunch of photos of Ellie in Denmark and also some of herself when she & Ellie visited Hawai'i when she was 11 years old.
Mom & Dynke

While we were there, Ellie's sister Sally and Sally's daughter Ann came in with relatives from Okinawa. Suruya & Junko had just arrived from the airport and were on their way to their hotel.
L to R: Junko, Mom, Suruya, & Sally.

All this happened at Paul & Yvonne's home in Kailua. Paul is Ellie's sister Betty's oldest son. He is also the oldest of the cousins, while Ann is the youngest of the cousins. It turns out Ellie actually passed away in 1991, not in 1951 or so as Mom had told me.

Here's what I learned today: Ellie is one of 7 sisters; in order they were Betty, Lorraine, Tsureko, Sally, Eleanor, June, & Nancy. After their mother died in childbirth with Nancy, the sisters were adopted out to other family members but still remained close. Ellie & Mom were roommates in Honolulu either part way through the war or shortly after; they lived at 808 Alder for a couple of years until Ellie moved to Maine for college. When they were roommates, Mom & Ellie would frequently get on the bus to go to Kailua to the homes of Ellie's sisters Betty & Lorraine. While on the east coast Ellie met her husband and they moved back to his native Denmark, where she worked at the Japanese embassy. Ellie had a son & a daughter, Dynke is the daughter of Ellie's son. Dynke had lunch with Ellie about once a week, they went to a Japanese restaurant close to her school. I also learned that Jens is a runner and participated in this year's Honolulu Marathon, finishing in about 4 hours. Congratulations, Jens!

Sally told us that Mom was one of her bridesmaids because Ellie was in Denmark and Nancy was at Leahi Hospital with tuberculosis. I found out that Mom & Dad lived in the basement of Sally's home in Kalihi when they were first married. I knew that I lived somewhere other than Grandpa's house during my first year but did not know it was Sally's house. I actually have one very vivid memory of looking down a steep driveway at that house. Ann shared with us that she drove a car down that driveway and hit the wall when she was learning how to drive. Sally still lives in that house and she and Mom talked about getting together again. I would really like to take Mom back to Sally's house and see if what I remember is what is really there!

Happy Birthday to Noel & Rae! Happy 4th Anniversary to Brienne & Dawn!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Transfusion #14

Mom went in for another transfusion of 2 units of packed red blood cells (PRBC) today. AJ from Dr. Chan's office called on my cell phone yesterday evening; Mom had been on the house phone talking to Mrs. Vea for a while. They wanted her in today, Dr. Chan said her levels were so low he did not want to wait an additional day. I later found a note about a lunch arrangement that Mom had apparently made while I was taking a nap; she did not tell me about it when I told her about going in for the transfusion today. When I found the note I asked her about it and told her I would arrange to reschedule the lunch because of the other things on her schedule.

While I was on the phone with Paul, Mom got very agitated about me calling to reschedule. She said she could handle everything herself, even though she could not find the message with the number to call. (I had to go back through her cell phone's recent calls list to find it.) I volunteered to drive her to Kailua so that Paul did not have to make an extra trip to come and pick her up and I would also be present to take care of any medical-related issues. The interesting thing about this anger is that she is not sure what this lunch is about. She knows that Paul knows her friend Ellie, who appears to have passed away in Europe about 60 years ago. Ellie's granddaughter is visiting and Paul is hosting a lunch to get them together, along with his other aunt (Ellie's other sister, Sally) so that the granddaughter can learn more about her grandmother through Mom & Sally. I am not sure how well this will work due to Mom's dementia. Some of the things she has told me about Ellie have changed over the last few months of her talking about Ellie. Hopefully, Sally can provide more information.

The other thing that was interesting about this is that as soon as we got home on Monday, Dad gave Mom the note he had taken from Paul. He had Paul's name and phone number along with Ellie's name. Mom told him she did not know Ellie or Paul and she left the note laying on the counter and went on her way doing other things. The next morning she found the note and began to make up stories about who they were. Mom said Paul is Ellie's friend and he lives in Europe and is visiting Hawaii, so she needed to call him before he left town. In actuality, Paul is Ellie's nephew and lives in Kailua (as explained to me by Paul). Since she thought Paul was only here visiting, Mom got really upset that Dad had not told her about it when we got back (I told her he did, she ignored it) and ranted about it for most of the drive to her blood draw that morning. When she confronted him about it, he said he did give it to her, so she dropped it and then went on a rant (to me) that he should have called her cell phone as soon as he got the call. I told her he was having problems remembering things, she said he didn't try to find the paper with her number. Interestingly, when she tried to call Paul she was going to leave her cell phone number and could not remember it or find the paper she had written it on. After this she stopped saying Dad should have called her while she was in Kohala. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

Usually Curtis brings lunch when we are at the ATC since he works about 5 minutes away. But today he had trouble with finding his 1st lunch source closed, then getting stuck in traffic on the way to the 2nd source. Fortunately, its Wednesday and the farmers market is at the Kaiser Moanalua facility. I told him I would get lunch and he should just show up to eat. As promised a few weeks ago, I went to G-Town for the monchong. I also got the furikake salmon and a side of stuffed cabbage. It has been such a long time since I've had stuffed cabbage! Curtis really liked the monchong and the stuffed cabbage.
L to R: furikake salmon with 'nalo greens & brown rice, monchong with nalo greens, & stuffed cabbage.

As we were leaving the ATC we saw a cat sunning itself just outside the parking structure. It seemed to be very relaxed and comfortable.

On the drive home from the ATC, Mom was wide awake, no nodding off like yesterday afternoon. She also had more energy in the evening. Hopefully, she will do well tomorrow at the lunch in Kailua; although it has not improved her memory. She still thinks Paul is a friend of Ellie's from Europe.

When we got home, I found a box hidden behind a bin near the back door. I had guessed it was the photo that David had sent to Mom & Dad. It was a photo he had taken of Sarah & Kaia when he was visiting after Kaia's birth.
Sarah & Kaia (photo by David)

Happy Birthday to Micah & Kulsoom! Happy Belated Birthday to Lembi, Santiago, Michelle, Delbert, Georgia, Uncle Bruce, Crystal, Deandra, BJ, Stephanie, & Richard!

Mom's Big Island Visit, Day #7

Mom woke up on 12/19 spitting out blood. It turns out she had bitten the right side of her tongue in her sleep. It looked really bad and very swollen. She had a hard time eating breakfast and it must have felt really bad, too. She asked me to call her doctor and get an appointment for the following day. It surprised me since she always wants to find ways to avoid going to the doctor.

The weather was drier than the day before. Which was a relief to Mom, she did not want to fly in the rain. Mom was very cold, tired, and grumpy. She did not want to wear any of her warm clothes because they were not "good" clothes acceptable to her for traveling in. I finally got her to put on the big fleece with the hood by telling her she could take it off when it was time to leave.

When we went to say good bye to Uncle Kazu we found out he was on one of the outings that the hospital takes the residents on; they were at the Mauna Lani resort. (They said he goes on all the outings.) They had taken box lunches and would be out all day, so we just left a message for him.

We took the coast road to the airport rather than the mountain road. On the way there were great views of both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. But Mom did not get to see them, she was fast asleep for most of the ride. 
Looking across Kawaihae Bay at Mauna Kea (L) & Mauna Loa (R).
Mauna Kea
Mauna Loa

On the way I also saw a male wild goat just standing alongside the road. Later I saw a bunch of does and kids near the turn off to the airport.
Male Capra aegagrus

We went to lunch in Kona but Mom's throat was scratchy and she was not able to swallow much. We got a pork & squash soup & BLT sandwich combo at the Pine Tree Cafe. (I was too preoccupied with Mom's tongue and throat to take a photo.) Mom was only able to eat some of the liquid part of the soup.

The flight was delayed coming in from Honolulu so our flight leaving Kona was delayed. Since the Kona International Airport is an open air building the tradewinds were blowing pleasantly through for most people. For Mom it was too cold even with my heavy fleece jacket with the hood; she forgot to take it off when we left the house and I decided not to tell her. I parked her in the sun but that was too bright for her eyes. I ended up pulling her back so that her head was out of the sunlight but her lower body was in the sun; it turned out to be the perfect solution. She fell asleep while we waited to board.

Curtis picked us up and we got back home about 6 pm. It was fortunate that cousin Baron had dropped off a nice big batch of Portuguese bean soup on Sunday evening; that's what we had for dinner. Mahalo nui loa to Baron! Mom fell asleep on the couch.

Mom's Big Island Visit, Day #6

When we woke up on 12/18 it was raining. A lot. Mom had originally wanted to go to the cemetery for one last visit but decided she did not want to do it in the rain. I continued working on packing up the dishes, pots, and pans in the cabinets. I also moved things out of the drawers.

Mom wanted to help but was unable to do anything. She isn't stable enough on her feet to stand up on the step stool to move dishes off the upper cabinet shelves. She can't get down to get pots & pans out of the lower cabinets because she has trouble breathing when she bends over and can't stand up when she squats. She needs her cane to walk from the cabinet to the boxes so she can't carry anything. (Due to the size of boxes I had available, the boxes would be too heavy to carry so I packed them in place.)

Although Mom was cold, she did not want to get in to bed with the heating pad to stay warm. She just wanted to complain about the weather, so she sat on the couch, every so often saying, "It's so cold." And she kept rereading the same edition of the Hawaii Tribune Herald newspaper that was not being used for packing material, one of the benefits of the dementia! 

Since I had to check us in for the flight tomorrow, I needed to find a wi-fi hook up. I dropped Mom off to visit with Uncle Kazu about 3 pm and went to the Kohala Coffee Mill. The flight was at 4 so I couldn't check-in until then but I needed to do it by 5 pm since that's when the Kava Bar closed and I would need to leave. When I returned, Uncle Kazu was sitting out in the Day Room by himself. It turns out Mom was in Akimi's room talking with her. I went to let Mom know I was back and asked if she wanted to leave since she had been there for 2 hours, she said she wanted to stay longer to talk to Akimi. I went to talk with Uncle Kazu. An hour or so later one of the nurses said Mom was looking for me. When I got to Akimi's room she was angry at me for leaving her there so long, she did not remember that I had returned and she had wanted to stay longer.

Mom was very tired today which makes her grumpier. It is also one of the signs that she is due for a transfusion.

Mom's Big Island Visit, Day #5

Current:  We're at the ATC, Mom is getting 2 units of packed red blood cells (PRBC). Which means we will be here at least 6 hours, plenty of time for me to get caught up with the Big Island posts!

Previous:  On Saturday (12/17) we started out with eggs-in-a-hole for breakfast. Some people call them shadowbox eggs, but I think eggs-in-a-hole is more descriptive. I couldn't find the oil so I left the bacon grease in the pan and cooked the eggs and bread in it. Onolicious!

Last month I found someone to cut my hair in Kohala. Jessie referred me to Petra at The Hairspectrum, it's down at the bottom of the hill. I went in again for another haircut. Mom decided the next time she comes to Kohala she will come to get a haircut from Petra. She liked that Petra washes your hair before she cuts it.

We took Uncle Kazu out to lunch. Sort of. He wanted to get a box lunch and go to Keokea Beach Park, so that's what we did. While we were at CSC Cafe getting lunch, Lem came over to the car to talk with Mom & Uncle Kazu. Uncle Kazu had shrimp tempura, Mom had lemon chicken, and I had the mahimahi plate. We parked in the shade in the parking lot to eat our lunch and watch the waves. Later Mom walked out to the wall to get a better look at the waves.
Mom at Keokea Beach Park, Maui in the background.

Uncle Kazu says it is only 35 miles from Keokea to Maui and only 25 miles from Upolu Point to Maui. He says people are able to swim to Maui from here, and some of the early Hawaiians probably did, I'll pass. It was very interesting listening to the conversation between Mom & Uncle Kazu. Mom was bemoaning the fact that so many things from her youth are no longer there. Uncle Kazu told her she should not feel sad, she should enjoy the improvements. He said if she lived in the past it would make her feel older. He used himself as an example of how he likes to go holoholo and see new places. He also said she needed to exercise and do more things to keep active. Uncle Kazu is 91, his father lived to 97. He said he heard people are now living 7 more years than their parents so Uncle Kazu is planning to live to 104!

When we left Keokea we drove down to the end of the road to the parking area overlooking Pololu Valley, but weren't able to enjoy the view. The parking lot was packed and people were illegally parked along both sides of the road all the way up to the old mule stable. The website I linked has some nice photos, but also shows a lot of damage; people are loving it to death. Previously there might be one other car in the parking lot when we would go to spend the day down at the beach at Pololu. Mom remembers when she went to visit friends that lived in the valley.

When we take Uncle Kazu to lunch we always end with ice cream. This time, on the way to Pololu, we passed a small nameless roadside "stand" that had ice cream. It was a small travel trailer with 3 or 4 picnic tables with umbrellas set out in a pasture. In the time it took us to order and eat our ice cream we saw at least a dozen people stopping by to buy ice cream, fruits & vegetables, and other items.
A great day for ice cream!

Later in the afternoon the Arlene and Joyce came by for a visit. Their mom, Kimi who is 93, was too tired to come for a visit. We had a great time visiting with them. We sent them home with a bag of tangerines. Joyce has been spearheading the fundraising for the Kohala Jodo Mission obon celebration, she comes over to get lemons to preserve for sale during the bon odori. Both of them put in a lot of time making the bon odori successful.
L to R: Joy, Mom, & Arlene.

After dinner Lem & Jessie came over for dessert. I had bought a Holy's Bakery pumpkin pie at Takata Store. I had heard last month that they were not making the pumpkin pies this year. I found out from an article in the Kohala Mountain News, that their oven had broken so during Thanksgiving they were not selling baked pies as usual; they sold them frozen for people to bake at home. I got a surprise when I went to put the frozen pie in the pre-heated oven, the pumpkin custard was frozen in a separate bag! Fortunately I had the microwave set up so I quickly defrosted it and poured it in to the shell. It was excellent!

Mom, Lem, & Jessie had very spirited and humorous recollections of various locals and relatives. They talked about the old Halawa Camp and where the various neighbors were & what they are doing now. We also talked about Auli'i Cravalho, the young woman who is the voice of the new Disney movie, Moana. She was born in Kohala! There was an article about her in the Kohala Mountain News, apparently she lived here for a few years until her parents divorced, her father still lives here so she comes back frequently for visits.
Moana (2016) Poster
from IMDB website
One of the topics of discussion was Arlene's name. Lem recalled that we always used to call her "Eileen" and no one ever corrected us. I remember when I saw her a few years ago at obon after not seeing her for several decades, in my mind I thought "Eileen" and figured I was misremembering when she introduced herself as "Arlene". Now I know why I was thinking her name was "Eileen"!

It was a lot warmer at bedtime, it was 70 degrees F. But for Mom it was still feeling very cold, got her to wear her leggings and a sweater to bed along with the heating pad.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mom's Big Island Visit, Day #4

Mom had been having difficulty putting her shoes on while standing or squatting, so she was bringing them into the house and sitting on the couch; she didn't like wearing outside shoes inside the house. So I started 12/16 by finding and cleaning up a bench for the front porch. I took one of the benches that are usually in the patio area adjacent to the garage. It fit perfectly on the front porch.

I met with Brad & Kai from Aikane Nursery later in the morning to talk about the fruiting trees. I would like the trees to be shorter so that the fruit are easier to harvest. When they examined the approximately 40 foot tall avocado tree they found a very large, hollow, rotted portion in the main trunk making it hazardous to keep around; they also found 2 suckers, one large enough that it is bearing fruit already. The rotted main tree will be completely removed, the 2 others will be trained to grow more laterally so that the fruit is easier to harvest. Kai will be doing most of the work trimming the trees and shaping them. The lychee tree had already lost 2 main branches and young shoots were growing from the sides of branches adjacent to the gap that had been created. They will be shortening all branches back to the level of the new shoots. The tangerine trees will also be pruned down. The persimmon branches hanging over the garage roof will be removed and the new shoots lower down will be trained as the fruit-bearing branches. The very tall panax hedge to the east of the persimmon will be completely removed so that the persimmon can expand towards that direction. The mountain apple is at just about the right height, it will be encouraged to put out more lateral growth. The shrubby lower growth on the macadamia nut will be removed, but it will be allowed to stay tall since macadamia nuts are harvested when they fall off the tree. The 30 or so banana plants will be thinned out and the area they covered will be pushed back to be closer to the pasture fence. The fence itself will be reinforced with hog wire to keep the pigs out; they have been coming in and tearing up the ground around the trees to get at the fallen avocados. Forgot to get a 'before' picture, so here is a photo of part of the area.
July 2014: Mom checking out the lychee tree, before the branches broke; avocado in background.

After that I met with Masa. He comes by every other week and mows the lawn. Sometimes he thins out the plants near the house to keep them healthy. Last month I marked a bunch of invasive tree species - African tulip tree, octopus tree, & Christmas berry - that I want him to remove. We talked about exactly what I want done, timing, and payment.

Then we went to visit Uncle Kazu. We arrived about the same time as the carolers from the Girl Scouts. The turnout in the Day Room was sparse - just the 3 of us - because both Sadie & Cheryl were off.

The Girl Scouts gave each of us a hand drawn card. The carolers left the Day Room then went from room to room singing for the residents.

Here's the card I was given.

I changed Mom's bandage and her thumb is looking really good. By the end of next week it should be all healed up.

Mom has been complaining about the cold even though it has warmed up and the evenings are only getting down to 68 degrees F. I even turned the heat up on the tankless heater to 120 degrees F so her showers will be warmer. I think it is the anemia that is causing her to be so cold all the time. It wouldn't be so bad (on me) except she won't do anything to try to keep warm. I tell her to put various things on that she brought to keep warm like her leggings and her vest but she doesn't want to do that. And I have a really nice heavy fleece with a hood that she refuses to use. I even brought a heating pad but she refuses to lie in bed to keep warm.

The task of the day for me was removing everything from the kitchen cabinets to get them ready for Chris to repair the termite damage. The uppermost cabinets along the south wall were very interesting, I had never looked in them before.
Upper cabinets along the south kitchen wall.

Here's what the inside of the cabinets look like. It's one loooooong cabinet.

There has been a lot of termite damage throughout the house. It has been most noticeable in the kitchen since that is the place where we spend the most time. When you don't know exactly what it is, termite frass is annoying, but when you now what it really is termite frass is very unappetizing. Frass = insect poop. So when I had earlier written about having to wash things before cooking it was the frass I was needing to remove.
Termite frass anyone?

Last month I put out some sticky traps to catch various unwanted guests. Here is one I found in the corner of the kitchen. It wasn't here the day we arrived. It came in some time over the first few days we were here. The card was originally in the corner to the right. Even with only a couple of its feet on the floor this centipede was able to move the card all the way over to the left!
Centipede on sticky trap, quarter in photo for size.