Sunday, 22 October 2017

Nothing new in the West (feeling homesick and reaching my limit)

Yes, that is a double-entendre again.  

Of course, people in the West STILL have not figured out that mindless consumption does NOT bring happiness. I'm starting to believe that they simply don't know what REAL happiness is because they only know the Ersatz delivered by buying useless crap.  So you have people being miserable while drowning in luxury ;-)

But then I didn't know any better either before I first went to the East. 

Not Mystic enough for you yet?

 LOL, OK here is another one:  Less REALLY is more.

But this post is not about that.  It's about trying to kind-of take care of someone who makes that really difficult for me.  

NO, not the least thanks to a comment made my good friend Zu ('That was the worst decision of my life'), I will NOT move in with Grandma, because my gut always has told me to stay FAR away from that move.

September 19th

Grandma got released from the hospital today.  She is back home alone.  It's silly, really:  Even while she was complaining about the nursing staff at the hospital, it was obvious how she liked their attention.  But she still adamantly refuses ANY outside help around the house.  

But there is also good news.  Today I got confirmation that Richelle, former head of the housekeeping staff of my hotel, is indeed in town.   And if Richelle is up to an adventure, I will risk a fight with Grandma to get her the help she NEEDS.

And that already sums up the reasons for my homesickness. 

Which home you ask?   

Phu Yen Province, of course ;-)  

It has happened.  I've been telling Zu that one of these days it might happen.  I could FEEL towards the end of every one of my trips that a fundamental change was about to happen in me.  

And it DID happen during the last trip to Vietnam.  The East, Vietnam in particular, is HOME now. 

Simply because life there is matter-of-fact, none of this bloody unnecessary BS to complicate life, which really is so simple.  The word 'natural' comes to mind, but people here in the West don't even get the meaning anymore.  Otherwise they would never come up with the crazy idea to buy something 'natural' or 'organic' in a friggin Supermarket, LOL.

Tuesday, September 19.
Grandma got released from hospital today.  I delivery her home and manage to get her up the various stairs.  At this point, I have NO IDEA of how HARD the coming 4 weeks will be.

6 pm.

I call Grandma and she can't lift her legs onto or off the couch by herself.  After INSISTING that she be released as soon as possible from the hospital, she now blames the hospital doctors in unquotable language for releasing her too soon.  

What is that Gnarls Barkley rhyme again?  

Anyone that needs what they want and doesn't want what they need, I want nothing to do with.

 NB: I only manage the pictured facial expression after 10 oz of Rose wine and a chat with fabulous Eda.  Tesekku"r Eda !

Grandma doesn't answer the phone when I call her at 10 am.

OH NO, not another one of those days.

When I arrive at the house at 11:30, she points at the TV remote and says "I couldn't reach the phone".

It gets worse.  At some point in her life, she picked up the idea that being difficult is a sign of high breeding.   So she does the duchess by making it difficult for me to decide what food to bring her from the kitchen. 

The sad part is, when Grandma witnesses the IDENTICAL behavioral pattern (To the manor born) in my mother, she denounces it in the most condemning terms.  At least I now know where my mother picked it up.

I'm happy to help with the resolution of a problem, but if Grandma continues to actively increase the size of the problem just for her own self-gratification and self-elevation, I'm not going to play along for long.

Hint: how many 99-year old people does anyone know who do NOT reside in some kind of assisted-living-home ?

Thursday, Sept. 21.

Fall is here

I would have liked to be in Manila today !

You can recognize Adolf even without seeing the mustache !

Grandma hasn't had breakfast and not taken her pills.  When I tell her that she has to manage this on her own, she replies that she relies on me.  As if being served breakfast at the couch wasn't good enough, she insists that I replace her large china plate by a small one.  WTF?  Double Duchess?

When I ask her what she would like for dinner, she replies "Duck".  Just because I told her that's what I ate in Germany.  Needless to say, that in North Vancouver it's impossible to find a restaurant that has Hong Kong Duck on the menu.  The fact that Grandma will probably HATE the food that I will bring her and will have the audacity to tell me so only adds to my overall level of well-being. So it is BBQ duck from Jade Garden Kitchen.  When I ask her whether she likes it, she replies "It's edible".  I manage to suppress a sarcastic "You're welcome".

She only eats a tiny amount of it and asks for the rest of it to stay on the table.

Friday, Sept. 22

I feel like crap in the morning but I'm still early enough to put her garbage bins out on the street.  NEED to do that; While slowly cleaning up the kitchen I'm also throwing out a vast accumulation of used dirty plastic containers, sandwich bags, and the strangest other things that have been accumulating there for a long time.  

a scattered mind ...

I put her breakfast food and her pills on a tray in front of her.  What kind of pills are those?, she asks me.  It seems that a woman who was strong-minded for 99 years and was used to ALWAYS run the show, has finally lost it.

The days are sunny but still unbearable.  I know that I have to do SOMETHING.  But I can't figure out WHAT to do.  And I am also sure that Grandma will HATE whatever help I can find.   So I descend into a catatonic state of paralysis.  Better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing, right?  NO, of course not, and mulling it over in my head and writing it down is another sign that this blog as a self-analyzing tool is working.


The fortune cookie I I pick up with the shredded duck for Grandma at Won Lee Restaurant reads "More money and travel is in your future".  A small consolation, but I knew that already and I'm more concerned about the time frame.

I get to Grandma's with the duck.  I can't find the house key.  WTF?  I search the car.  NO.  Drive back to the hotel.  

I can't find the key in the hotel either.  I call Grandma and tell her that I'm on my way and that she should open the balcony door so that I can get in.

When I get there the balcony door is still closed, and instead of opening the latch lock Grandma insists on walking down the stairs to the main entrance door. 

October 2.

After a week of barely managing, I know that I MUST call Social Services today.  I'm no longer able to handle the situation.

October 3.

I make the phone call in the morning.  I get an answering machine and I leave a message.

No one calls me back all day long.

The resulting feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. No wonder everyone in this city takes Prozac.

By Oct 6 I have to get used to having caught the Cold from Hell (TM). Explosive sneezing and extreme tiredness are just some of the symptoms.

Oct 8, Sunday

As if dealing with Grandma wasn't enough, I get to deal with garbage bins.  North Vancouver has an Organics garbage bin now.  Complete with carabiners to lock the lid shut. 
This is very welcome since I have to dispose of the ~20 cartons with eggs filling Grandma's fridge, some of which date back 4 years.  Add to that all the left-overs from her dinners that she doesn't eat.  The bins are filled with duck, eggs, ham, bacon, etc.  I assume that the District of North Van has done thorough testing on the carabiner locks of the bins.

I have to realize that the opposite is the case when I arrive this morning and find BOTH bins tipped over and their contents strewn all over the driveway. A quick inspection reveals that the bear had a LONG feast.  NONE of the goodies like duck, ham or eggs are left.

bon appetit !

Oct 9. Monday

Last day of the long weekend.  Thank God.  I can NOT deal with this anymore.  In addition to the cold, my lower back is killing me every morning and my eye-sight and general disposition are deteriorating rapidly. 
The situation with Grandma is driving me mad, almost literally.  For 2 weeks I have not received an answer to my question of "What would you like to eat tonight?".  OK, there IS an answer:  "How am I supposed to know NOW what I want to eat TONIGHT?" I guess I still have not hit rock bottom yet because I still don't resort to "You know where you can shove such a smart-arse question?" 

Between feeding trips I hide in my hotel room, too depressed and angry to deal with people.  It's not only Grandma of course.  Just driving a car in Vancouver is a nightmare.  Vancouverites have perfected a very particular style of atrocious driving that is hard to find anywhere else.  The result?    I have become literally afraid of having to travel anywhere and having to face all those idiots in their cars.   

What a difference to only 6 weeks ago where my mind and my body were flourishing and jubilating while enjoying being swept along in the scooter flow of Viet live. 

This morning I finally had to accept the fact that Grandma is losing it.  She insisted that she and her husband were staying in the same hotel on the same day that a famous German politician was shot in that very hotel.  My question of "So did you get questioned by the police as well?" only gets me an angry look and a "Why would you ask that?".  "How should I remember that after all that time?" is the answer to my question in which city that is supposed to have taken place.

On the one hand it is tragic, but I'm so worn down already that I just look at the bright side:  Putting my 2 nearest relatives into places where they will be well taken care of within one year will actually give me an opportunity to focus on my life, which in a curious series of unfortunate events I have allowed to be dominated first by one and then the other of those two nutters.  What is worst, this affected me at the time when all my attention should have been on my now departed partner.  Yet another one of those things I will never be able to make up to him ;-(

Tuesday Oct. 10

I've called the Home Care Intake number.  Of course, I only get voicemail.  I left all the details and they will get back to me.  Hopefully soon.  We'll see how long that takes ;-)  My plane takes off in 13 days.

I feel full of resolve this morning, despite having been woken frequently through the night by neighbours slamming their doors causing the outside walls to shake, which in the old wooden structure of the hotel travels right to my bed-frame. NOT pleasant ;-(

I make all the phone calls I can make today, head for a quick breakfast at Denny's (Carlos arrives at the same time and I actually have to ask him to sit at my table), and head to Grandma's to serve her breakfast. I've bought the replaceable mopping part of her wet mop a few days ago, attach it and sweep the kitchen floor, which was overdue for a long time.  When I dump the dirty water bucket into Grandma's toilet, I discover that things have progressed to the point where the toilet doesn't get flushed after use.  


Dark Days !

I finally manage to pull off a visit at my in-laws (George's family), which has been overdue for 3 weeks.  Things are going more smoothly today but not for long.  By 6:30 pm the constant outside noise has worn me down again and I curse every one of the idiot car drivers when I take the bicycle to pick up Grandma's Chinese dinner.

Only 12 days until lift-off.  No one called back from North Shore Home Care Services today.  Hopefully tomorrow!  If the Government service doesn't kick in soon, I will have to hire a private service for the duration of my absence.

Sun. October 15th.

What's new?  Nothing.  I feel like I'm drowning.  I visit Grandma twice a day, leave her more and more depressed, and the public servants still haven't called back.
Can this get this ANY worse?

Ah well.  Eventually I will break down and then I'll know whether it is SCREAMING or CRYING that this desperate constant feeling wants me to do.
Yes, it is POURING all day long.  Vancouver is SO BEAUTIFUL, LOL

October 16.
The people at North Shore Community Care still haven't bothered to call back.   Chantal, a public servant herself, hints that "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" and that I should call back.  Are you kidding?  If they exhibit this kind of work ethics when returning phone calls, what do you think the home 'care' will look like?

October 17
I called Nurse Next Door yesterday.  They return phone calls promptly and we have scheduled a consultation for tomorrow morning.  It's amazing how much my spirits have lifted ;-)
Brief Relief from the downpour
Grandma repeatedly states that a home-care nurse is NOT something she considers necessary or proper, but I'm too worn out to listen to her.

October 18
It is DONE.  I think I might just have my life back.
I met a representative of Nurse Next Door this morning.  And despite Grandma's LOUD complaints, they will visit her EVERY DAY.

Back in the hotel, Vancouver exhibits its finest sides:  Persian Drivers LOUDLY shouting and gesticulating at each other outside my window because they can't agree who will get to occupy that parking spot.  The weather probably does not help to appease their minds either. 
The brightness level at NOON

It's windy.  It's pouring.  It's cold. It's dark.  As soon as the wind ends, it will be less than 24 hours until the air will reacquire its characteristic smell of cold wet exhaust gas.

I am SO RELIEVED I am getting out of this HELL !  It's not only the actual Status Quo in this city.  What is MUCH more depressing is that Vancouver is a prime example of how dumb people manage to turn a nice place into a hell hole within just a few years.  THAT is what appalls me about this place, where I not only witnessed the incredible rise in the numbers of the Porsche SUVs but also spied the first Maserati Bimbo-Van of my life and where the planned Ferrari Family Van (I kid you not) for dumb blondes who sold their souls will indubitably sell like hotcakes.  THIS is the place where 'HAPPY' affluent families streaming in HUGE crowds to the SANTA Parade in freezing weather COMPLETELY IGNORE the homeless digging for food in garbage bins not more than 10 meters away from them.

Ah well, it's not all bad. At least this place has taught me an important lesson. The REAL meaning of the sins of Sodom & Gomorrah. And trust me, it has NOTHING to do with Sodomy, LOL.

And one last quip (relief really must be hitting me after these weeks of despair, or maybe it's just the second glass of wine):  Chantal, upon reading all of the above, would say: "I read what you wrote.  The typical ranting of an ANGRY old man".  And I'm HAPPY to be back in the RIGHT head space to be able to reply:   "YES, It is true. I am ANGRY.  And I think I have more than sufficient reason...
But why aren't YOU?"  
1984 was 33 years ago !
Thursday October 19
The first thing Grandma says when I arrive to serve her breakfast and tell her the Nurse Next Door coordinator is coming again is "I do NOT want her here".

Another month of this routine and I would be worried that I'm about the right age for my first heart attack !  I refrain from hissing at Grandma and let the NND coordinator do the convincing work.  But I don't care anymore. My life has been turned upside down during the last half year by Grandma's inability to look after herself and that stops NOW.

October 20
It is done.  The first Nurse Next Door shows up despite Grandma's protests. 

3rd most livable city on the planet?  Laughable.
At the time of my evening visit, Grandma doesn't seem to mind that much any more.  But when I tell her that her kitchen is now clean, she still protests "It was clean before".  I should have taken pictures of the grime before.

Sunday October 22nd
Again I am faced with Grandma telling me to cancel the Nurse Next Door visits.  How can some people get so OLD and accumulate so little wisdom?  Again, I tell her that she doesn't really have a choice.  

Tonight will also be the LAST night that I deliver take-out food to Grandma.  In 4 weeks she has not prepared a SINGLE meal for herself.  I could not possibly leave without having someone look in on her every day.

But I'm still glad once I reach a place where my cell phone doesn't roam and consequently doesn't ring.

And let's end this post with a message to the people responsible for Public Community Home Care Services in North Vancouver (Vancouver Public Health).  I called them 3 times (and got an answering machine EVERY time) and explained the situation with Grandma. I left all the relevant information precisely as requested in those messages. The voice mail outgoing message assured me that someone would contact me 'within the week'.   2 weeks later, NO ONE has followed up.  Yet another country where Public Servants have forgotten what those words actually mean.
What is worse:  I DO have the means to hire a private company.  So do a lot of people.  And they do.  The following assessment is highly inflammatory, and FAR from politically correct:  The people being hurt by the inability of mid-40 to mid-50 at least once divorced overweight under-motivated and overpaid Government employees to get their head out of their arse to return a phone call are the ones who always get screwed in Canada: The Poor.  Because they don't have a choice but to WAIT for that phone call.  Remember THAT next time you're eating your extra doughnut at the water cooler!

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