Thursday, 1 October 2020

Visiting again. For now...

 Our care home opened its doors again to family visits and we spent another 15 mins with Okaasan head nodding like bobbing-head toys, looking out the windows at a world she can't visit and doing our double act chat about the weather/the mountain/the tall building/the lunch menu/the Tv/my T shirt pattern/Okaasan's socks.

Luckily it's only 15 mins!

Oh I know, that makes me sound like a horrible person...but it IS a relief that we can only have short visits. Once a week.

I am a horrible person.

So, our care home dodged the Corona Virus case at a connected Day Service facility, it seems. But maybe another care home wasn't so lucky, or skilled. About 3 km south of Okaasan's home - there is a CV cluster at another home in the city. 24 staff and residents at the last count. No deaths.

It is SO near to our care home, and it is very likely that people from there go to the same day service facilities. Maybe that's how the infection spread? We are glad that we chose a place that has a basic day care room and services in the same building, and a hosspital. So Okaasan never needs to leave the building.

And this pandemic year - she hasn't.

She last went outside maybe almost a year ago? November 2019? We probably took her out in our car and wheeled her in the wheelchair downtown somewhere. Then winter came and it  got harder to move her wheelchair near the car and get her into the car. So we just visited and sat with her inside.

And then in February a Pandemic began and all chance to leave the building disappeared.

What's nuts is that SOME of the  elderly in her care home ARE leaving, to go by mini bus etc to day service places in the city for a few hours. But we are not allowed to take her out ourselves.

It's hard. But I do understand it. The less contact she, and anyone, has with the world beyond the care home doors - the better. But still, it is strange to think she has not been outside for almost a year.

Her mental and physical condition has gone down this year, although she seems basically content. Sitting in her chair and looking at the TV. Eating  what they bring her. Sleeping calmly.

October - in Japan several changes now, which may lead to an increase in CV cases. Foreign students and business people are allowed into the country now. Universities have started back, half in class/half online. Tokyo people will be allowed to use the government's discounted domestic travel campaign.

And the biggest worry in this part of Japan is the season change. Daytime it is above 20 C, and we can wear T shirts if it is sunny, but there were first snowfalls in the mountains and the nights are cool. We are starting to live behind closed windows and doors, so the air circulation in our daily lives in becoming worse.

But still Japan appears to have a better CV situation than so many countries.

Japan's daily new case average is 400-500. In the UK it is 5,000...

Even allowing for the low testing rates here, (you still have to be pretty sick to even get a test), those are staggeringly different numbers. Japan is a mask wearing, rule following, hand washing that all helps. Japanese people don't hug eachother and talk loudly in public places. That helps.

But it is still an amazing difference.

Stay safe wherever you are, and let's hope for a safe winter.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Covid-19...a step nearer...

We all know it.

It's here...around us...somewhere...near...

Somebody at a day service center for the elderly here in Sapporo tested positive.

Somebody from Okaasan's care home GOES to that center.

The care home is stopping all family visits for now.

We can't see Okaasan again.....๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜ž

Don't know if the infected person is a staff member or an elderly person, don't know if it's one, or many people, from the care home who attend that center, don't know if any of them live on the 10th floor with Okaasan.

But we accept the care home decision 100%.

Luckily, she won't know whether we have been this week or not. 

The news here shows a slight increase in positive cases in the city - mainly night entertainment places like clubs. But somewhere in the city a day service center for the elderly also has a case....and the chain reaction of that fact is happening.

In other, happier news...we had a 3 day trip in a camping car and enjoyed some early autumn scenes in Hokkaido. Had to change our plans, due to rain, but we spent quiet time in the central area I visit a lot when tour guiding. Visited places I haven't been to....learned a few new things about butterflies, wine making, dinosaurs and Japanese art...ate curry...friend fish...drank wine...had an onsen for the first time in 7 months...

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

My body?

 We had a family visit to the toilet yesterday.

First time in a while - when we are only meeting Okaasan for 15 mins a week, the chance that we'll be heading to the toilet together is less. Yesterday Okaasan actually said the word: "Toilet" off we went.

The three of us, plus wheelchair, were doing the dance of : chair/body/handbar/pull down pants/turn/sit...wait...and reverse everything again.

Okaasan could stand and hold the handbars, and with our big encouragement and physical support, she could turn and slump onto the toilet seat.

But slump was the word. If a sack of potatoes needed to go to the toilet. This is what it would be like. Very little independent movement or muscle use. Shocking. And sad.

In the past, if you ripped off some toilet paper and gave it to Okaasan, she did something with it - folding it politely..or rubbing it on the correct part of her body. This time, her hand held the paper....and did nothing at all.

Gently, taking the paper back, Dear Son wiped his mother's body. Returning the favor for all those nappy changes 60 years ago...

Returned to the wheelchair she just slumped. No attempt to push herself back in to the seat or sit upright. We hauled her into a sitting position.

But she made eye contact with us and smiled and did the goldfish pouting gesture with her mouth. A few minutes later, in her room, we washed her hands at the sink and when given the hand towel she made the motions of drying her fingers with it. And we praised her.


But I just feel sad.

This disease, it reduces you so very much. This lively, smart woman - a whole life time of experiences - and now her brain doesn't give her the information of "I need to sit in a better position and should move my legs and arms".

Doesn't give her the information about what this paper is used for.


September. Still hot this week. Two huge typhoons skirted round south Japan. Up here it's been hot and sunny. Our COVID-19 lives go on and on.

I work - but not so much. I meet a friend or two. Spend days out with the kayak. The Achilles tendon damage is getting better...a little. I can do ordinary day-to-day walking, but I still don't set out to do a big walk.

Garden time. Cats time. Watching Game of on Season 6...we recorded and are watching all the Bond films, in order. I do social media posts for the tour company. I am reading books.

My life feels like semi-retirement!

Covid-19 in Hokkaido has settled into about 5-10 new cases a day. Mostly here in the big city of Sapporo, and often among younger people connected to the nightlife area businesses. Or, a call center, or a hospital. There were more domestic visitors here for school holidays last month, now it is quiet again. Maybe foreign students are allowed to come back into Japan this month. Business visitors from some countries.

Next week we are having a 3 day local trip in a camping car, just sea and onsens, good local foods. In October we have another trip (hopefully), to the mountains of central Japan...THIS is the year to visit these places without all the foreign visitors, and the domestic bus tour crowds. We got good discounts on the hotel stays.

But if infection rates increase again, and government advice is to stop inter-region travel, we will cancel.

Such a strange time. 

Economically this isn't a good year for me - but with pretty generous government support money I will be ok. I am lucky. Hopefully, next year, foreign visitors will be allowed to come back to Japan and tour guide work will start again...for now I will just enjoy this quiet, stay home, spend quiet times.

I hope you are well, whatever you are doing in autumn 2020. What a year it has been...and as characters in Game of Thrones keep saying: "Winter is Coming!" and we wonder what Covid will do then.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Better visit...

 Okaasan MUCH better on our visit this week.

Sitting up straight, eye contact...eyes not all strange and filmy...

Still not much conversation, or actual verbal response, but eye contact, strange mouth opening and closing like a goldfish (does she think this is talking?) and smiles and waves.

We are relieved. Still we are only allowed a 15 minute visit, because it is the holiday season and there are other families and a big ban on people from out of state big cities , such at Tokyo and Osaka.

AND....get such worrying times....when hospitals and care homes (and shared dormitories at high schools etc) regularly appear as COVID-19 cluster locations...this care home has decided to hold a Families Meeting this weekend! One of those 50-60 people crammed in a room listening to speeches affairs!

Like. Really?

At a time when you are restricting visitors to the care home, connections between people. Is is really a good plan to have 50-60 people from all over the region come to the building and cram in and out of the elevator? Sit together in a room for over an hour listening to speeches?


I put my foot down. Told Dear Son he shouldn't go. Stupid plan. They can send him an email or a newsletter. His time would be far better spent, prepping to come with me to a friend's small BBQ party....5 people from two families eating and drinking in a garden is a better use of time...and safer in Covid-19 times.