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 :-)

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

2 years on...

Facebook helpfully reminded me that in May 2017 Okaasan fell down in the kitchen and ended up by November in the current care home.
I was surprised it was only two years. I felt so much longer...so many things have happened.

Now her room is a bright and welcoming English classroom, where students are beginning to settle in and the cats are free to come and go. HER room is at the top of a building downtown - with kind care workers to assist her every move, regular meals and a big TV....loving family visits every week.

I think it really was for the best. The few months after the fall with all the hospital treatments and the awfulness of being tied to a bed and changes in medication - that was grim.
But by late summer and into autumn she finally was physically and mentally stronger, and our care home choice was good. I wish she could see a garden from the windows - not just a cityscape, however I try to tell myself that her focus now is mainly on the TV or the cup of drink in front of her.

We went for Mother's Day, took a pink scarf as a present. Unfortunately, she had an itchy back for some reason and she was complaining about that constantly - the scarf was a momentary concern....but we had tea and snacks with her and Dear Son turned on the charm chat which made her laugh and relax.
The care home doctor has said that she is able to do MORE walking that she currently does, and should be got up out of the wheelchair more and urged to walk....the staff don't really have the time for that, although she walks on the 3 times a week day service visits.


I guess I will have more time...because the old students/friend who has been in hospital for over a year with a brain wasting disease - she died at the weekend. I attended the wake - with a room of crying bus drivers and guides (she was a bus guide) and I have other stuff to do in connection with her death - helping another foreign friend write a letter to her family.

I am happy she has finally died. To see someone, once so active, just in a bed unresponsive for so long. It was hard. Her mother doesn't even live in this city and had to take a 3 hour train journey to visit her.
In the last week her condition became worse and many friends went to say goodbye. On the morning of the day she died I had dropped off a clean bed towel.

Visiting that hospital and walking in the fields of the agricultural college nearby have been part of my routine for over a year. So now I can turn my energy to Okaasan more and help her to enjoy the summer season.

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 see....in 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....