Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Still settling....

Another week of new home uncertainties.
The doctor said the evening meds could be delivered in powdered form, so the staff have been giving them to Okaasan in her evening coffee - fine until she declares (as I expect she will sometime) : "Coffee? I NEVER drink coffee after dinner!!"

But for now good.

Dear Son continued his visits because there is a slow start to his work season. Some days Okaasan was in a good mood, other days the demons were raging and she was angry about going into the lounge, or even using the walking frame.
He came home depressed.
She will start physical training again tomorrow. It's taken the system almost 2 weeks to get THAT going...frustrating. Dear Son has taken her for walking frame walks along the corridor...otherwise she would have been inactive again for 10 days.

So. Fairly ok. A few more things are needed for her room. Things to do.

Last week should have been a week of freedom. But it wasn't because one cat got a bad urinary infection and had a high temperature for days. Vets visits (and bills) and general sleeplessness. An exhausting week.

Christmas party season is starting....

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Settling in ups....and downs...

The cat is settling into Okaasan's old room nicely....along with wintering house plants, drying laundry and the debris of a person's life...
It IS strange. She hasn't died. But I'm 90% sure she will never live in this room again, or use the things that are in it. Actually, she may not ever even see this room again - bringing her to the house may be too confusing.
But there are loads of her things - pink and red little towels, old clothes, hair pins, Hawaiian dance dresses...

This winter I will spend some time - when Dear Son is away at the ski areas - sorting thru stuff and getting rid of a lot of it. 
Is there a word for it? This appropriating of someone's possessions when they've died, or left the home? The kotatsu/heated table blanket that Okaasan lived under every winter has become a cat bed...my gym shirt is one of her old T-shirts...there are a million little things here and there which we might use, or throw away.

How is she?
I've been busy with work, so Dear Son has gone every day to the care home to visit Okaasan. Mostly fine - she was always sitting in her wheelchair in the main lounge - either watching TV with other residents, or looking at a magazine. Happy to see him...basically ok.

The staff said the bed sensor may be too sensitive - she moves in the bed a lot at night, and her alarm song "Hear comes the sun" was playing a lot in the wee hours. Moving in bed is fine, it's the standing up from the bed which is dangerous - and this may have to be changed for a mat.

She will see the doctor next week and start rehabilitation training again.

So. We have freedom. And we skied. Up early and out together to do our first ski. He will start work from tomorrow, he needs to practice...I need to get confidence back after a bad fall on the last day of last season - buggered up the deep parts of my knee and spent 2 months in a lot of pain this spring.

So - there we are - a free, relaxed couple at a ski area.....actually THE ski area where we met...oh God...about 20 years ago....a ski area romance :-)

All good.
On the way home we went to the care home...

Took Okaasan out, briefly, in her wheelchair for a walk round the block. Not very beautiful streets near the hospital in early December. Took her twice....the first time she started talking about toilet needs within 20 meters of the care home doors - so DS had to spin the wheelchair round and head back inside. Her standing and turning ability isn't reliable enough to risk a strange toilet where you can't get the wheelchair right inside...

Anyway. She seemed fine. A little tetchy with us about things. But ok. Encouragingly, she was actually talking a little to the old lady who was sitting near her in the lounge...I never, ever saw her really talk to other patients at the hospital. Will she start to socialise? At another table in the lounge a group of 6 women were chatting and laughing...will she make some social contact? She is a kind of proud lady, who dismisses others as "boring/stupid"...but there IS life and laughter in the lounge.

As we left we went to the staff station to talk to the floor manager.
He'd told DS before last week that Okaasan was sometimes difficult to medicate in the evenings...now he really told us.
She basically refuses her medicine after dinner...and if the staff are lucky they can get her to take it within an hour or two...but she  is getting aggressive with them about it...and it's important medicine for the emotional control of the dementia...she needs to take it in the evenings.

Saying "here's your medicine!" of course is a bad idea...although she has taken medicine mostly acceptingly this year (to our surprise)...but maybe this is a backlash to the change of location/people/routine? The hospital didn't say they had problems with this.
Is it because the hospital staff looked like - and of course WERE nurses? But the care home staff are wearing casual clothes and Okaasan wonders WHY they are trying to give her medicine?

The manager said he will talk to the doctor about whether the medicine can be crushed up and hidden in a drink or yogurt...and I wonder whether the staff who gives it to Okaasan should wear a white jacket, and LOOK like a nurse....

Anyway. A bit of a downer. Dear Son was worried and apologised to the manager.
"I felt so relaxed at the ski area...and now this..." he sighed as we headed for the elevator.

I don't think it's a big problem. There must be a way round the problem. But she does need the medicine...

But it is a little worrying. The  anger is JUST there, lurking in the wings of the smiley, friendly old lady - a situation that isn't what she wants and it steps center stage and starts to perform....and it is a very scary anger. We saw it on the weekends she was home this summer....and we were unable to cope with it. I guess the care home people have more experience with it...but hopefully a way to get the medication down her throat will be found.
I am NOT going to attempt to wrap Okaasan in a towel and hold her down...like you do with a cat!!!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

That day has come.....

When you've dreamed of THAT day for ages.
Then it comes.
And you are too knackered to celebrate it......

That day. When Okaasan moves out of our home and into a care home. Well, actually out of hospital and into a care home. But you know what I mean.

Once I wrote about celebrating with cheese fondue and wine on this day. Eating the food we could never eat while living with his mum.
Well, I am still at the office catching up on paperwork (and blog!), he is probably at home with a beer. We had a late lunch, so we agreed to eat leftovers.

So. The moving day.
As if the saga of the bloody curtains and moving his mum across the city wasn't enough to deal with - we ALSO had to get one of the cars into the car dealer for a winter tire change. Booked months ago and just happened to be on the same day.

So. Cars all ready and packed with last things for Okaasan and winter tires, we were at the sewing shop at 9.30 am to get the curtains.
Then across the city to the care home - curtains put in place.
Then the car dealer.
Then...the hospital where Okaasan was sitting dressed on her bed, a little bemused about all the staff coming to say goodbye to her...
"Where am I going today?" she asked me while DS was away paying at the office.
"Ahh!! Look you have a nice, stylish muffler!" I cried with desperation....and got her looking and thinking about that...and not where she was headed next.

The 3 of us into the car and back across the city to the care home. Funnily enough, it is 4 blocks away from the very first hospital she went into after the fall in April.

Big welcome. Okaasan confused....lots of chat about the height of the bed and walker, and then Okaasan was actually wheeled away to the lounge for lunch with other residents while we sat down in her room for a pow-wow with the care worker, the 10th floor manager, the rehabilitation staff and the lady from the bed rental company. 
There was a general review of Okaasan's situation this year - and what level of care we hoped for now. DS had to sign about 15 documents...add his seal etc...duplicates...etc etc....all very official.

Curtains!!! Look!!!!!!!!!

After that we stole away for lunch and I did a class. Then 3 hours later we went back to see how she was faring.

She seemed a little tense, a little loud voiced...but also smiles and giggles. We took snacks and a magazine. She and I sat in her room watching TV while DS had a meeting with the doctor. Okaasan recognised things as hers, but somehow the room feels bare.
The nice flower wall stickers I had bought to decorate the walls seemed hard to use, I will have to try and do that another time. I still wonder if she needs a table....

When it was time for us to go (car dealer and back to work....) we took her back to the main lounge and the staff wheeled her into place at a table with other old ladies, near the TV. Okaasan did exchange some words with them...and she did wave at us as we left.

Dear Son said: "she looks happy, I think"...so maybe he feels reassured. He will go again tomorrow.
We'll see how the first night goes. 

I think she doesn't notice any difference in the lounge - at the hospital or the care home. Just a room with tables, people and a big TV.
But her room is a different space, and she will be alone there - before it was a shared room.

We will see......

Of course I am happy. Finally got her into a care home with professional care. My winter will be free.
But I worry that the change will make her condition worse again....the current drugs have her basically calm and happy. We don't want to go back to restraints and anger.

So. I am now going home to drink a glass of Yuzu wine and leftovers. And watch War and Peace, BBC costume drama at its best. Tomorrow I have to prepare for a tourism workshop I am speaking at this weekend....and OMG! Just remembered I have the dentist tomorrow...

Onwards :-)

* Thankyou for your messages of support for the blog. I will try to continue - but it will be less. I will probably see Okaasan twice a week....but we all want to know how she gets on in the care home and what happens.....and I promise some pix of Hokkaido snow, skiing, cats and ......whatever....

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Room setting up...


Sunday morning. With slight hangovers from DS's birthday dinner the night before...he and I are sitting in our socks on the floor of the care home room.
Sewing curtains.
I HATE sewing. Really. My mother was a skilled sewer. Hell, she actually wrote and edited books on the subject in the UK in the 1970s.
Me? hate it.

Our moving Okaasan's stuff into the care home started well - bright and early we managed to pack all her things into one car and arrived just after 9 am at the next stage of our life with Okaasan. The staff were so welcoming, we had 3 trolleys of stuff to take to the 10th floor. A slight wait for the room key and then - we were in and setting up.
As you can see - the rental bed, wheelchair and walking frame were ready.
We set to with TV and table, clothes boxes, clothes rack, trash box, personal knickknacks...and curtains.

They were too long.
Dear Son had measured the window for me. I'd sized up all the curtains we possess. And chosen the green ones. And washed the net curtains to go with them.

Dear Son hadn't noticed the small heater/air con unit on the wall below the window....both net and green were about 20 cm too long.

Luckily it's Japan on a Sunday morning and 100 Yen shops sell everything. So we went and bought a travel sewing kit and double sided tape for easy-hemming.

No problem! Curtains down again. Both of us in our socks with curtains spread out on the floor. He tried to tape up the net curtains, I attempted sewing on the heavier green ones....the travel sewing kit scissors disintegrated every time I tried to use them...designed for tiny TINY fingers??

Intense concentration. Sounds of the care home echoed around us. The resident who has "Hi ho, Hi ho" - yes, the Disney dwarf song - as their motion sensor alarm song was apparently trying to get to the toilet endlessly...we could here the staff chatting...people moving around.
We sewed and taped on.
Hate sewing. Okaasan may notice bad sewing. May complain. Have to make it look ok. Wish I hadn't sold her sewing machine about 6 days ago.....the tape didn't work. I sewed the net curtains too. Swearing at the scissors.

Finally done.
We hang them up. Um. Not hanging right. Gaps. Looks bad. Even to me. And Dear Son. I try to make them better. Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
If Okaasan notices them - she may throw a hissy fit and hate the room. Obviously.

"I think we should get them professionally done?" ventures DS.
I agree. We sigh and take them down again.....finish up the room and head out to lunch, exhausted. Later, deliver the curtains to a local sewing shop - professional lady will do a rush job and have them ready by Okaasan moving day - in 3 days time.....

The rest of the room? We hope it looks ok. We hope she will enjoy the familiar things...
Wash basin area.

The photographs, the clothes, the scarves, the Tv.....
The view....not great today...but there WAS a naked man opening his curtains at 10 am!!!!! I may have to move in myself...

Why did Okaasan cut this pic out of a newspaper ages ago and pin it to the wall? She loves flowers and pink and red - pretty things. Why THIS picture? Anyway, it's come with her to this new home...

Still things the need doing, before Wednesday.
A small shelf near the sink for towels.
Washing stuff.
A nice bath towel.
A curtain to hang above the entrance door, so she feels it is HER room...
Bedside table?


And curtains.

This will all be wonderful eventually.
Now, it is just tiring.
Her old room has great big dusty gaps in it now. I will spend my winter cleaning it and getting rid of a lot of her old stuff. Downsizing....the cats are already living there.

My Okaasan and me time is coming to an end...
9 years.
What will I do with this blog? Living together with Okaasan is coming to an end.
But I will continue, because I sense all of you lovely readers want to know what happens to Okaasan from now on.

And me?
Maybe so? I feeeel your lurve...