Monday, 29 April 2019

The good son

People can surprise you. Even after years of knowing them.

Dear Son - the noisy, beer-drinking guy guy....who tells awful jokes, makes slightly embarrassing comments to people he's just met etc etc...really. he IS a good person.

Well, of course - I met and fell in love with the guy and share his life. So he must be good. But, seeing him with his mother really brings it home to me.

Last week on our visit to the Place Where Two Day Care Company's Operate 5 Meters Away From Eachother.

Okaasan was in bed again. Constipation problems. Feeling tired.
We got her up and in the chair, walking with the stroller.
Major toilet reactions, of course. So the three of us spent a lot of time in the toilet together. 
Dear Son was jokey and kind and surprisingly sensitive with his mother and her most personal of needs. It was wonderful to see him in action with toilet paper and under clothes. What a star ;-)

By the end Okaasan was fine, she enjoyed our visit and we left her by the big TV at the end. Her conversation is very patchy now. A lot of times she just "zones out" and closes her eyes...

Good weather and cherry blossoms are here now and today we are going to take her out in the park.

After our visit last week we spent two hours trawling thru local department stores trying to buy a dark red, wool cardigan for Okaasan. NOT man made fibers. Pretty hard in April because everything was spring clothing. 
Oh. I hate shopping. Give me toilet activities and walks up and down the care home corridor, any day - shopping for Okaasan is hell for me. Such stress. At least now we can go do the shopping without her, so I guess that is one rank down of stress :-)

Saturday, 20 April 2019


Has it really been so many weeks since the last blog posting?
Sumimasen....(Japanese for sorry, for all situations).

April is the month of new starts in Japan: school, job, home, move home...

For us too this year: Okaasan and the care company; me and the English classroom at home...

Oh...and Japan is in the last month of the Heisei era and about to enter a new era (Reiwa) as the old Emperor retires and his son takes the helm.

A lotta new.

Okaasan and the care company

Well, no huge drama...but a few worrying things.
The new company staff have control of the staff desk area, the old staff are reduced to sitting in the lounge with residents, or in resident rooms...and have to take things back and forth from a nearby rented office space.
It seems as if about 5 of the old residents have moved out. Hard to know how many current residents are with the old/new company - there are always staff of both on duty. Okaasan's company staff are a little over-the-top friendly of trying too hard.


1) The general lounge area is empty of any cute season decorations, the little origami stuff, the pictures - the things that brighten the walls of a modern, cement building - the things which tell residents it is now "spring" or "Children's Festival" or "April".
It really is just a room, with big plastic tables, chairs, a TV and not much else.
We hope this is temporary: that they are getting important stuff like resident schedules and staff duties in place, before the decorations.

2) Okaasan seems to be spending more time in her room, in bed, sort of sleeping. Until now, when we went to visit she was almost always in her wheelchair in the lounge with other residents - glued to the TV.
Now she is often in her own room, in bed.
Not actually sick, or tired. 
But why? Is it easier for the new care company staff to just put the old people to bed, and leave them there alone? Easier than entertaining them in the (bare) main room? IT doesn't bode well. The big TV and things happening around her is better than alone in bed in a quiet room.

We will herself she appears fine. Dear Son has visited a lot.

English classroom at home

Finally, getting classes underway in the new space - and I am getting used to essentials such as keeping the house entrance hall clean, making sure I get OUT of cat hairy clothes in time before students arrive...
The room is wide and sunny. Seems like a good space. Parking has to be juggled a little in the schedule, and it's still hit or miss whether students will find the house...or end up in the local builder's parking area.

My old classroom, in the rented apartment - has already got new people moving in. I saw them cleaning the other night. Strange feeling.

But :-) Had a few more tour guiding jobs, getting more into a flow with that after the long, quiet winter...had some fun tours with fun people - seeing Hokkaido winter transition into spring. My whole teaching work shakeup was a stress, and I did it to allow me more time to do the tours...and so far, so good.

Onwards :-)

OH! Oh!!!

And QUEEN and Adam Lambert are coming to Japan in January 2020 - just announced tour dates....going going going!!!!

but that has nothing to do with this blog....

Monday, 25 March 2019

Rooms with memories....

TEN years ago we moved to this house with Okaasan...and really started life together. In a big old house in the Sapporo suburbs. We basically lived upstairs and she had two big rooms downstairs.

The picture at the top of this blog was taken that day. Okaasan and me, sitting on the sofa in her newly arranged room, which we had set up with a big TV, a heated table, clothes hanging place, futons etc etc

She never really used both rooms. The tatami room became a clothes - and SO much more - store...bags...bags...bags...old bits of dance stuff....knickknacks...

She lived in the main room - slept/ate/had toilet accidents/watched hours of TV/fiddled around with magazines and newspapers....SO much of what's happened to us happened in that room. Laughs and anger. Cross-cultural warzone.

And for Okaasan here became too hard. The fall...the broken bone...the incapacity..the raging fury....the hospitals and care became clear she would never come back. In fact we don't risk even a visit here, in case it sparks off confusion about where "home" is. She proudly and happily now calls her 10th floor room and the care home her "home".

Since then it's taken me two years to clear out the rooms here at our home - get rid of stuff/keep essentials. We've used the rooms for guests and drying laundry. The cats have moved in, with great joy, to the old carpet in front of the heater. In our conversation the room has changed from "Okaasan's room", to "Chichi's room" and "the downstairs room"....

And now. A new era is born.

Yes, there is the old sofa....the very cleaned floor (we all know what happened on THAT floor!)...the blue curtains. Cat.

It's about to become an English classroom. Somehow. By next week....
I decided to make some big changes in my work life: close the rented apartment which I've used for over 11 years and move the lessons to home. Rearrange some other teaching too and try to free up more time for tour guide work. That's the grand plan.
The past few weeks have been a stressed time of trying to make those changes. A lot of goodbyes to students. Changes which will be good, I hope. But at the moment, just feel like stress.

So. this room with all its memories....about to make some new memories. :-)

* We went and saw Okaasan yesterday. Took her out in the car to a shopping mall and had a wheelchair walk and coffee. She IS much more confused about doing simple physical things now, getting in and out of the car, the toilet etc And as we sat in a Hawaiian themed cafe we asked her if she'd been to Hawaii...
She said she'd never been. Had no memories of memories of much to do with sad....I listened to that story a million times...and now it is MY memory. Not hers.


Monday, 18 March 2019

Out with the with...???

Okaasan's care home service provider changes.
What a Balls Up.

Another big meeting yesterday.
Looks like the new company hoped to take over the contract and use the existing staff. But the staff are loyal to the old company, because it rescued them from a previous company that went bankrupt...

Some families (like us) have signed with the new company.
Some families have stayed with the old company.
The Old company hopes to open another home, elsewhere in the city - and some families plan to move their elderly to that.
And information about the elderly residents can't be shared between the staff of the different companies - for privacy legal reasons.

And from April 1st there will be staff from TWO different care companies operating on the same floor!! But the old company staff won't be allowed to stand behind the nurse station counter or use those call machines etc, using a telephone system instead.

Yes. That's right.

30 elderly residents on the same floor, using the same shared lounge, toilets etc - will be under the daily care of different company staff....
Can't fathom how THAT will work.
If an old person falls in the toilet and the staff from the "other" company come running, will they actually step away and NOT help?

There were no clear answers at the meeting yesterday. 

While Dear Son enjoyed all of that, I actually did the Okaasan visit.
Bundled her up in her coat and took her for a wheelchair trip round the local streets, to the cafe in the convenience store for a drink.
She is pretty passive now. Happy in a way. But just looks around at life.
NO interest at all in buying a women's magazine - so strange that she used to live to buy and read these magazines just a few years ago. Now, no interest.
We stopped to look in an antique shop window and the friendly owner came out for a chat...Okaasan told him she had been born in Tokyo....a lady who has always felt GREAT pride in her Kawagoe birthplace. Definitely NOT Tokyo. I was surprised...
Such familiar things are falling away from her? Magazines? Birthplace?

Back in the care home I left her with a cup of coffee in front of the TV and joined the families for the Balls Up Meeting.

What a mess.

I just hope that Japanese people being so Japanese - the actual day to day care on the 10th and 11th floors will go well - because they staff of the two different companies will cooperate with eachother. 
But it's a strange situation