Monday, 14 May 2018

Mother's Day

A year ago....Okaasan was curled up on the carpet of her room at home, in great pain from a broken back bone...3 days after a fall in the kitchen...and still refusing to accept help. We were changing her soiled diapers and pajamas, putting newspapers and pet toilet sheets under her in a bid to keep it halfway clean....

And finally...on the Wednesday, after the Saturday fall, Dear Son agreed to call in professional help and she was taken off to hospital...one after another.
A hospital for the broken bone, then a mental health hospital after the dementia went batshit, then a recovery hospital, then another recovery hospital....and finally a care home.

Yesterday we were at the care home for Mother's Day. A display of pink flowers in a basket, some drinks and snacks.

Okaasan was happily sitting with her gang of old ladies at the table near the TV and chatty and funny. She talks about herself in the 3rd person now: "Oh, grandma is happy/healthy/sad/able to walk/wants to go to the toilet etc"
very odd. Not sure why. And the singsong, happy voice...

Windy, cold day - so we did a quick trip to the care home main doors for fresh air, and then spent the rest of the hour chatting inside. We took in a photo album of Okaasan as a young mum long ago in the 1950s....holding (now dead) older brother, and now middle-aged, farty Dear Son.
"Who is this baby?" she kept asking on every page...and didn't really seem to remember anyone, or anywhere.

But happy. 

Our life is so much better, too. We have more freedom about eating and planning. My winter is FAR more relaxed. We have got used to being in the house...just the two of us.

And she has got used to life in a care home:
"Which floor do I live on? Is my home the door with the pink curtain?" she constantly asks. She became used to the routines, the baths, meal times and exercise  programs. She can stand better now. But gets tired quickly with any standing still or walking. 

What a difference a year makes!!


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The weeks slip by...

Blogger gone missing :-)

Just getting on with my life.
Oh? Partner's mother? Oh yes..she is in a care home. We visit once a week. He visits...actually. I go less.
My life.
It's cherry blossom season here - one week early - and JUST timed right the Golden Week of public holidays. I have a few classes on two days, but the rest of the time is free. 

DS and I went to visit Okaasan a week ago. Sunny day.
We took her out in the wheelchair to the local temple grounds, looked at early flowers and green trees. Kids playing. Felt the warm breeze on our faces. Back via the cafe in the convenience store for coffee and sweet sake drinks. She loved it.
She had been having a a hard time with constipation when we arrived at the care home and continued to chat away about how she felt like she was dieing in the toilet...all the time in the temple gardens.
But all was well. The care home staff said she has really settled into routines now. When we arrived she was sitting at the main table in the lounge - facing other residents, rather than the TV. Some kind of social interaction. Much more now.

DS has been again since and reported all was well. A bit of walking with the frame, chat, a wheelchair trip outside. We had hoped to try and do a short-trip in a car to a cafe or restaurant - but decided crowded public holiday time isn't the best idea.

I'm still doing hospital visits every week to my seriously-sick friend. Now she can't speak, and can hardly eat even sloppy foods. A lot of pain. Visits are so hard. I prattle on and on about stuff. Hold her hand. Cry. So, I let Okaasan visit slides a bit. I haven't seen her for 10 days.

Her two rooms in the house are slowly returning to us. Cleaning out her stuff still - this last week I managed to sell the Hawaiian dance dresses and a table. We had two Couch Surfing guests to stay in the actually very nice traditional Japanese room. I still have to go thru all Okaasan's stuff in the chest of drawers.

It's been almost a year since her fall, then hospitalisation...and a whole summer and autumn of physical and mental decline. Last year was so stressful.
Now seems so calm.

Oh! Before I forget.
A quick shout out for a book about living with early-onset dementia. Wendy Mitchell is a feisty campaigner in the UK. Her book is now out and has been a popular feature on British radio shows and TV.
Now published in America. I know some of you here are in America, so here is the cover and title. Wendy's blog Which Me Am I Today? 
Of course, early onset is a different situation from Okaasan, but Wendy articulates so well much of the experience of dementia. She is well worth reading, blog or book.




Monday, 16 April 2018

Settling in to a routine

Okaasan well - calm and happy in her life.
We visited yesterday - walking round the corridors with the walking frame, snacks and drinks in her room, family TV time, arm flapping exercises...chat.

"You work as a ski instructor??" she quizzed Dear Son. I guess it IS a year since she has seen him coming home with skis and boots in the kitchen...the reality of his working life. So we did all the "rich Chinese visitors - teaching in English - season - Hokkaido snow business boom" conversations...that are all routine.

I washed one of her rose-pattern smocks the other day at home and discovered a train ticket and a receipt in the pocket. 
2016...September...she went downtown with this subway ticket...but then forgot she had bought it and probably confused the subway staff by producing her Elderly Travel Pass at the other end. And then she went to her favorite coffee shop at 4.58 pm and bought a matcha tea drink and a chestnut puree cake.

The old routines. Two years ago she was doing that alone.

Now she is mainly in a wheechair. The TV. Exercising. Waving and even TALKING a little to "friends" in the care home...and the staff. A few months ago she always looked a little suspicious and unfriendly when we turned her chair round from the communal TV and wheeled her out of the shared living room - as if she was unaware of all the other people in the room behind her and wondered who they were.

Now she waves and smiles at them. And they at us.

It's all great.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Doing our exercises

Okaasan, me and Dear Son are gathered round the table in her room - flapping our elbows up and down like Easter chicks and then throwing our hands out sideways with accompanying noises.

Family exercise!! And Okaasan is our leader.

She initiated the movement, which is obviously one of the exercises they do in day care, so of course we joined in and all laughed together as we did it. Then, went back to drinking and eating snacks.

It's a good sign. That she remembers, with enjoyment, the exercises from day care and does them unprompted.

All well in her world. Dear Son and I went to visit the other day and found Okaasan friendly and chatty. We pushed her wheelchair around a few blocks of city streets, did two toilet visits, snack time and chat. The care home staff reported that she was in a good place mentally this week - and after an hour or so we parked her back in front of the big TV and left her to relax.

It was a relief for us to have a happy visit. On the same afternoon we went to a hospital to visit a friend who has a terrible brain and muscle deterioration disease....in 9 weeks she has gone from a working, active adult to a shaking, pain-cramped invalid. Can hardly talk now, can't really feed herself anymore.....it is so hard to see her. We both came away from the visit shocked and sad. Recently I go to see her once a week...because it is a weekly worsening. I reckon Okaasan hardly realizes whether we visit or not, and our friend needs visits more.

Anyway. Okaasan good.
Next we are going to try and take her out in the car and do a short coffee or lunch visit somewhere....we hope....