Sunday, September 16, 2012

when life throws you curve balls...

I've said this before, but I started this blog back in 2005 as a way to update my family and friends without overloading their email inboxes.

Since then, I am amazed at how many virtual friendships and "real life" ones have blossomed from it.

I know when most of us blog, it is mostly on a specific topic and most times we are all still very private about "life".

I kinda debated whether to post about this, but think that there are many who may be going through similar situations...

Last August, you may remember I had a medical emergency.

Truth is, we were 10 weeks pregnant, unbeknownst to me. Can you imagine finding out in the emergency room?!

Unfortunately, it was ectopic and baby had to be removed, so did part of my tube.

We were bummed no doubt, because of my age, because having an ectopic apparently puts you at a higher risk of having another ectopic.

It was bittersweet because we were pregnant, just in the wrong place.

Fast forward to 2012, in February, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Yeah, the things you read online about this cancer aren't too encouraging.

I came back in March, thanks to my Aunty's miles, just in time to be with her for her 1st chemo treatment.

I gotta say she's always rolling with the punches and tries to always be very positive.

After her first chemo treatment, it was hard to watch a "foodie" not be too enthused about food.

She still has more treatments to go, her appetite is up and we are still very hopeful.

In April, my brother came home to help out.

Most times when he has come home it wasn't for a long period of time, so I think it was a good chance for him to bond with my parents.

He's now in the process of moving back from the mainland, so it'll be nice to have him around.

Then in May, Satoshi had an irregular heartbeat. He was hospitalized for about a week and is now on meds and seems to be okay.

He has to watch his sodium intake as well as calorie intake, which makes cooking for him, as well as eating out an interesting challenge.

Looking back, talk about being scared! It felt as if everything around me was crumbling.

I mean, even if I speak some Japanese, medical vocabulary is rough, even in English, so you know it must've been 10x scarier in Japanese!

With everything going on, I was feeling a bit helpless at this point.

And then, if that wasn't enough "excitement", at about the same time, my Dad, went in for emergency surgery.

Where his abdomen and intestine are supposed to be connected, he apparently was born with a "pocket" and somehow part of his intestine lodged itself into the pocket and caused him lots of pain.

The emergency surgery was to unblock the pocket and I think, sew the pocket up so that it wouldn't happen again.

To make matters more challenging, he has Parkinson's and was off his meds for close to a month, so I think it had advanced, making his swallowing very difficult and dangerous.

Until he can swallow safely, they put in a feeding tube in his stomach and for awhile he had been receiving liquid nourishment and some physical/occupational/speech therapy at a care facility.

In July, he came home so we've (Mom and I) been taking turns giving the feedings, which are a challenge because they are about every 5 hours 4 times a day!

Sometimes we need to "maneuver" a feeding in between doctor's appointments...

He was going for rehab to get stronger in swallowing, but he's not back to eating "real food" yet.

His bathroom related "issues" also added a little more "excitement" around here too...

Every time I've come back to Hawaii, I've slowly noticed my parents getting a little smaller, their meds increasing. Not to mention they move a little slower.

It's their little idiosyncrasies that you'll get to see when caring for someone 24/7 and if you don't laugh it off or find ways to relieve the stress, it will probably drive you crazy or eat away at you.

I know that aging is something that everyone goes through and that most of my generation is running into having to take care of their aging parents.

It is tough watching your parents go through these things and having some roles be reversed.

I am thankful I don't have to work full-time, that I can spend the time taking care of my parents, it is the least I can do to give back for what they have done for me.

So, this trip home, even if it looks like I've been having fun (and I have had some fun), I've kinda been "working".

Having only done this for the past 3 months was pretty tough, I give credit to those who do this type of work full-time.

While I was here, most of my days were long starting at 5:00 and ending around 21:30.

(Sometimes having to get up many times in the middle of the night to help out with the "bathroom issues" mentioned above...)

During the day I juggled things...caring for Dad & Mom (mostly Dad), taking them to doctor's appointments, while also trying to do some of the chores around the house, I usually got to sneak in a nap when Mom & Dad did (though I usually spent my time on the internet...).

We hadn't been cooking too much because who wants to cook after the long days we had?! (Which explains all the plate lunch posts, we still gotta eat right?!...Which also explains why Dad was never mentioned in these plate lunch posts too)

Though I must add that when we did cook, it was in big amounts to freeze for heating up at a later date.

I was torn because I was not taking care of Satoshi while I was in Hawaii, but am grateful that he has been understanding in letting me spend a lot of time here.

I've also tried to keep blogging, I think writing and photography are some of my passions these days.

Even if I wasn't able to comment on all the blogs I read, I enjoyed being able to stay connected to all of you.

So, while my blogging is mostly about eating and other random things, there are "real life" things going on in the background too.

To say that the past year has been an adventure would be an understatement, and I'm trying to stay positive.

I didn't write this for you to feel sorry for me, I don't feel sorry for myself, nor am I angry at the world or the higher powers around us for all of this "excitement" and "drama".

I do think writing this post has helped me work through some of my feelings.

And I really appreciate all the prayers, emails, comments and words of encouragement, they really brighten up my days.

With everything going on in the world, I just hope the remainder of 2012 will be kinder to us all.

While I wasn't able to visit nor tell all of my friends what was going on, and while I wasn't able to meet some virtual blog friends IRL (in real life), I am pretty sure when they read this, they'll understand.

Sorry this was such a long post...

I'm headed back to Japan today.

Talk to you from the other side of the world. Be well, everyone!


Saburo said...

All the best, Kat! Safe travels back to Nihongo World.

debee said...

Hi Kat,
hope your journey is safe! thank you for sharing a piece of your life even in the midst of such drama and reality. You have and continue to bring a joy and freshness to the little things. this includes those plate lunches, the chocolate, the interesting snacks, etc. While it all is such a struggle, it does help to make those moments a little sweeter. Please enjoy your family while you have them. sending hugs your way-- one of your little cyber friends ... Debi

before28 said...

will keep your family in my prayers!!

- reader from hong kong

Dennis K. said...

Please take care Kat. And thanks for sharing a part of your life with us through this blog, both the good and the challenging.

Anonymous said...

What does not kill me, makes me stronger.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, 1888

Kris said...

That's a lot to manage - sometimes everything happens at once. Thinking of you and your folks.

gtrine said...

Hi Kat,

Thinking about you and all you and your family are going through. Keep taking deep breaths. I am glad writing that post helped you sort out your feelings.


akt said...

Dear Kat,
I found your blog about 2 years ago and look forward to reading it every day. Thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone.
I've never commented but I just had to after I read this post. After reading it I had to tell you how much I admire how positive you are and how strong you've been with all that's been going on. I think we are close in age as I, too am learning how to accept my parents aging. Please be good to yourself and take care. It's hard work being strong for everyone.
Thank you, again for sharing. It reminded me that there are a lot of us that care for our parents while trying to take care of ourselves, too. I will keep you and your parents in my prayers.

KirkK said...

My goodness...quite a year Kat! I'm hoping the next one is better. I'm surpised that you managed to keep things up. Sending you best wishes from this side of the world!

Su-Lin said...

Oh, Kat! *big hug*

Safe flight back to Japan and my thoughts are with you all.

Sarah said...

Hi Kat,
I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now, because I love Japan and I love your perspective on life. I don't even live in the same country but I feel like I know you, and thanks for the advice on Osaka, I have lots of things planned for when I am there in November. I just want to say, good on you for pushing through the hard times and I wish you and your family all the best. Thanks for a great blog that I always look forward to reading and I hope you are doing well.

Anonymous said...

I am sending you a HUGE HUG!!! Because you deserve it!

Sometimes I need to read a post like this to realize how lucky I am because nobody around me (incl. my old parents) is ill.

Take care, and thanks for sharing your story with us!


Rowena said...

I am hoping that writing this took some weight off your chest, although I can imagine that it must've taken some thought before you decided to just do it! Satoshi must be so happy that you're finally coming home, and I have no doubt that you'll be eager to cook what you like in your own kitchen (referring to that one post some time back and I just KNEW what you were hinting at!). Take care and even take a break from the internet if you must...we will be happy to wait for your return. xoxoxo

K and S said...

Thank you everyone! You made my day :)

Take care.
Hugs back at ya!

Lindsay-Jean said...

Thank you for sharing Kat. What a challenging stretch. Thinking of you and sending lots of positive energy your way (and hugs!)!

David said...

I know you didn't write this post to garner sympathy, but you and your family are in my thoughts. You give some of the most thoughtful posts and slices of life that I have found online.

I first found your blog when I was looking for bento and other food that I can't find in Michigan which I had in Japan, and your tastes have influenced some of my cooking. Thank you for sharing this small glimpse into your life. Keep up the great work.

islandgirl1223 said...

Please take care and I hope the rest of the year ends on a positive note for you...I know it must not be easy to leave your family behind because i go through it every time I leave Hawaii...Thank you for sharing your life with us...

K and S said...

Thank you everyone!

I appreciate your comments.

Take care.

K said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us Kat, I'm sure it has been a lot for you and your family to handle.

genkitummy said...

Thanks for opening up and sharing on your blog.
My thoughts are with you and your family.

K and S said...

Thank you K & Genki.

I appreciate your comments.
Take care.

mariko said...

Wow, Kat, I had no idea! You have really been through a lot this past year. I am glad your folks are doing better, and I know they appreciate having you around. It is great that you are focusing on the positive.

K and S said...

Thanks Mariko :)

Take care.

Kathy YL Chan said...

Hi Kat - thanks for sharing, that is a lot to go through in such a short period of time and you handled it with such grace. I'm always impressed by your positive is inspiring :)

Big hugs ^_^

K and S said...

aw thanks Kathy!

Take care.

Phil said...

Hi Kat. I cannot imagine what you have been through. Being away from my family and friends is difficult because of things like this. You have shown incredible courage and grace which is indeed inspiring. Thank you for this. Best wishes to you and your family.

K and S said...

Thanks Phil.

Take care :)