Sunday, 25 August 2019

Quiet August...and changes

Okaasan IS ok...we actually saw her sitting upright yesterday...first time for me in about a month.

We visited the care home before lunch, to make sure we got her in the vertical position and awake. She was watching TV in the main room and we did a quick wheelchair trip outside in the local streets to enjoy fresh air.
Then a toilet stop inside.
Her standing in the toilet was very weak...and she was pretty confused about what to do with the toilet paper etc. AND not quite sure of her son's name...

Generally a decline cognitively this summer...and physically.

We will try and do a car trip to a lunch one day. But the staff say that she doesn't eat so much and often needs feeding to get her to take a little more nutrition. They have a stock of nutrition-in-a-can drinks to boost her, too.
Maybe a coffee shop trip is better. A whole lunch thing is unnecessary.

Ho hum. 89 years old....

Yesterday was a memory of our lives 10 years ago because it was the 10th anniversary of my dad's death (thank you "On this Day" Facebook). At that time we'd moved into this house with Okaasan and she was trotting out for a walk every afternoon. Often taking the subway downtown to her fave coffee shop and meeting another old lady.

MY life is much better now. Freedom from caring and cooking, and cross-cultural mis-understandings. Hopefully Okaasan's life is good too? Familiar and routine. Caring people bringing her food and drink, helping her exercise? A kind word, a laugh?
I hope so. Every time we go to the care home I feel the Leaver's Guilt...as we wave and smile and bow...heading for the elevator and our freedom. She doesn't strongly complain, but looks a little sad...and if we go back for a forgotten something she is soon engrossed in the TV or a drink cup, or food.

But still. A bit of guilt.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Not so happy birthday...

Okaasan was 89 years old last week.
In past years we've had trips out to crab restaurants etc - this year was very different, for planned and unplanned reasons.

I was not free at all - 3 days of tour guiding back to back - fun and challenging for me to show Hokkaido off to a lovely family group from Canada and the Philippines. But bang on the weekend that we hoped to celebrate with Okaasan.

Dear Son went in to the care home with a pudding and some decorated cookies, which Okaasan enjoyed with him. She knew he was him, she knew it was here birthday. All well.
Hokkaido has had a crazy 10 days straight of sizzling temperatures - about 30 C. Unbelievable here. We moved downstairs to sleep, leaving the front door open etc. Most homes here, and many businesses, don't actually have air con. So prolonged heat is hard.
But also hard to take Okaasan in her wheelchair outside...

But next day the care home called.
Okaasan had a fever, the doctor had visited...which of course is the main reason we chose this particularl care home. It is attached to a hospital and a doctor is never far away.

Dear Son went in again...Okaasan was so so.

Then yesterday we went together. The heat had broken and we hoped to do a wheelchair walk. Took in 3 pink T shirts I'd bought for her.

But fever again. In bed. Quiet. Not eating so much.

"What food does she really like, if we can tempt her with something?" asked the staff.

!!!! crab...gyoza...aloe yogurt...pizza....

We stayed for a short time to chat to her a little. But then left her to sleep some more. The doctor will check again. Recently they've been giving her regular IV supplement nutrition....to make sure she is taking in enough.

So. Not the planned birthday celebrations. Hopefully she will feel better later this week and we can go out together. BUt now is Obon time in Japan - when families all over return to hometowns and visit graveyards to remember the ancestors. Restaurants tend to be packed.

We'll see.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Back...with a "bang"

Almost injured Okaasan yesterday!

I bumped the wheelchair and she shot forwards and half fell into the road - screaming in pain and shock!

Me too.

Dear Son and I hauled her back into the chair and stroked her face and arms, reassuring her she was ok - praying she WAS ok...it was awful....I felt terrible...guilty as hell.
She seemed ok...maybe...but a few centimeters more she'd have been thrown face down on the pavement, or broken a leg or an arm in the fall - because she had no natural bracing-against-impact reaction. Fell like a sack of potatoes.

Happened just as we were heading back to the care home after a wheel chair push round the local streets...looking at flowers, pointing at things in shop windows. A windy day. Okaasan not very chatty...but we were doing the round.
Dear Son was walking next to the wheelchair and slightly in front - so she could see him. I was in charge of pushing - up and down the curbs - making sure to tilt the chair over steps etc. But this place looked almost flat..and I was not really focusing at walk-end...

OMG. It was awful.

The good thing was that she had forgotten about it within minutes.
But in the local shop as we bought drinks she was whole-body shaking - from the cold? from delayed shock? We didn't know. So we rushed her back to the care home and staff checked her vitals. All seemed ok. She could stand, move her legs. Heart rate was usual...they will monitor and let us now if there is any result from the incident.
Oh God. I hope not. It would be terrible that I am the cause of injury...

So. There we are. Mid-summer...that's us.

VERY sorry I haven't written for ages.
My life is a whirl of teaching and tour guiding. The latter particularly is busy of course with Hokkaido holiday season. People from all over the world here to see flower fields, blue pond, mountains and volcano scenery.
It's hard for me to turn down teaching work too - because the guide job is a feast or famine work situation. And a couple of big writing projects are hovering too.

Dear Son visits Okaasan every week. I didn't for almost a month...
Apparently she is ok, but the staff are worried that she is eating less. She is not so friendly to other residents...and walks a bit.

It's her birthday next month. Is a restaurant visit a good idea?  Easy, quick eating place with good toilet access. Have to find that. She also needs more summer style clothing.
Have to find the time to do that.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Mind not muscle?

Okaasan really is stronger than we thought - it's the brain power that is lacking.

Yesterday at the care home we found her in an ordinary chair by the TV.
She needed a toilet trip, so the staff brought the walking frame and guided Okaasan to stand up from the chair and...holding onto the table... to shuffle sideways and and shuffle some more into the frame.

She really could do it. It was surprising.

But she doesn't do it of her own volition. Each movement - hand grasp for support and foot movement - was guided, She just waited to be told what to do next.

I guess it's a bit of both. We, and care home staff, have over-supported her and she has got used to that and lost the power to make a decision about what to do next.

Anyway. Good visit.
We walked to the temple gardens with the wheelchair and had an ice cream in a convenience store.Shared some laughs.

I haven't been to see her in weeks...but of course she doesn't know that. Just smiley and happy to see me....and him. 
Onwards into summer :-)