Friday, 23 September 2022

Trying to focus

 Another month

Another online visit to Okaasan.

Strange times we live in. ๐Ÿ˜–

She was...well...I don't know. Okay? She was in bed, on her side and had a tube up her nose. And her hands were in big gloves to stop her pulling the tube out.

Her hair was cut short, and with the pressure from the pillow had quifted up in a little grey spike, like Tintin in black and white. With a lot of encouragement from the attending nurse, Okaasan focused in one the tablet screen for a few minutes. Every now and then her eyes would slip to the nurse, or the bedside curtains.

She appeared to nod. Maybe smiled? Hard to know.

These online meetings leave us grasping at tiny straws for some evidence of connection to our "visit". Does she know us? Is she happy?

We grabble on about the changing season, the temperature, the cat, Queen Elizabeth, our grey hair....anything to fillout 10 mins between the endless: "Hi! Okaasan! It's us. Can you see us? Okaasan! Hi!". Until the computer clock that we have successfully filled out the time and can start doing a minute or goodbyes and see-you-next-time chat.

Then the nurse/we click End Meeting at the bottom of the Zoom screen and it's over for another month.

We go back to watching Stranger Things 4, and prepping dinner.

Okaasan goes back to lying in a hospital bed, with tubes for nutrition in and out. Staring at a bedside curtain or wall. Listening to voices and sounds around her.

I don't want her living in the house with us here. I'm no saintly daughter-in-law who will camapign to Bring Mother Home, so we can have the tube changing/bed baths right here in our lives. But still. I feel sad that her life is this now. ๐Ÿ˜ข

If she were MY mother. Would I feel differently? If this were England, and I could raise hell in my native language, with a care system I can easily understand? Like a heartwarming movie, would I Bring Her Home to Die? Set up the living room with the care bed, and have quirky care helper come in to do the medical stuff, so I could sit at my mother's bedside and have meaningful end of life conversations?

Maybe. I am certainly up for being the difficult customer and fighting a hospital/care administration - mainly because I watched my own mother battling unfortunate service workers over the years. But I'm not sure I would sacrifice my own time and easy life to care for somebody in my home. That's a huge thing. Respect to the people who do it. But, most of us are pretty selfish and are relieved to let strangers do the caring at the end of our elderly's life.

I used to have a middle aged student, whose severely invalid mother had months to live. As her sister was a nurse with necessary skills, the hospital allowed mother to move back to the family house where she amazed everyone by living for almost two years - enjoying her favorite icecreams, visits from the great grandkids and hand massages. It was a wonderful situation. 

But I know I don't want to do that. Can't do that.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Normal...but not for all.

 Yes - still here.

Still can't go into the care home to meet Okaasan face to face.

Once a month, 10 mins online meeting is all we are allowed. New infection numbers are falling all over Japan, after an August 7th wave. The Japanese government has cranked open the borders a little by allowing fully vaccinated foreign visitors to come in on approved escorted/planned by unescorted tours - the tourism industry is whirring into action.

All over Japan there are summer and now autumn events - beer gardens, music festivals, sport and concerts. Japanese people are jetting off for holidays around the world. Classes and work are pretty much face to face.

Quite a few friends who travelled overseas this summer caught COVID and had their return delayed - when the J government still demanded negative tests 72 hours before flying. Or, others got back into Japan ok - and THEN tested positive and had to stay off work for a further 10 days.

Even I toyed with the idea of going back to the Uk for a trip. But 15 hours rerouted via the Middle East or Alaska, crazy prices with fuel surcharges...and a work pattern that is JUST starting to return my earnings to pre-pandemic levels...all of that knocked those idle fancies on the head.

Next year. Next year.

We're ok. The cats are ok. Okaasan in her cocoon/prison is ok.

Summer is sliding into autumn and I've done a lot of kayaking with a friend. Normal life.

But not.

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Zoom meet....


Another Zoom meet and greet.

Guess this summer will pass and we won't have seen Okaasan face to face again. So strange to think we delivered her to that care home last year in November. And we haven't been allowed to be in the same room as her since then.

She was rather puffy faced and hot looking on this Zoom meet.

We sang Happy Birthday - oh my God...the irony of those sentiments....and chatted at Okaasan and the nurses in screen view. Chat and waves. And then it was done. 10 mins is kind of hard to fill.

This weekend is the Bon Festival, when Japanese travel back to home towns and visit graves and remember ancestors. We don't have any of that to do, and I injured my toe (cut RIGHT next to the nail, but the doc says no infection and the toe nail is ok), so I can't go near water and kayak.

Spending my time close to home and enjoying meeting so many friends, their homes, my home, the beer garden. The Pandemic really showed us how valuable face to face time is with people we like, and it's nice to be able to meet and chat again.

Infection numbers are starting to level out and maybe go down here now, as scientists said they would. But, looking around a happy beer garden scene it seems normal is returning. Although - friends in the UK who saw my video of a beer garden commented on the plastic/wood table screens between drinkers. I guess in the UK all of that stuff has been done away with?

Here, at the beer garden - you have to go in at the entrance. temperature check, contact trace info and assigned seating, screens and a 90 min time limit.  But SO GOOD to sit outside and share a beer with friends.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Birthday memories....


Long, LONG ago when we were all a bit younger....

The happy family in our messy kitchen. I think this scene was captured by a Japanese artist who was doing a photo project about foreigners in Japanese families, or something.


We sent this happy scene to Okaasan in our birthday card to her last week because she reached 92 years young, but of course we couldn't be with her and will have to sing Happy Birthday to her next week over Zoom.

Remembering years past when we took her out for a big dinner of crab, making sure to control her intake of sake and celebrating a life of daughterhood, wifely cooking duties, super mum and more.

7th wave of Covid is roaring around in Japan at the moment. Daily new infections are topping 7,000 in Hokkaido, but it's summer holidays with many visitors in town and summer events happening. The care home is still on online visits only.

I've got a few empty days in my work schedule, and visits from out of town friends...the beer garden...some enjoy. And then I stubbed my unsocked toes on a metal door frame and did a nasty cut just below the toe nail - dripped blood all over a museum carpet and was luckily helped by an old man who had bandaids in his pocket :-)

Now I'm a-hobbling, putting my foot up a lot to stop the bleeding and swelling...and kind of wondering if I should go to a doctor and have the toe nail ripped off by an expert.

Would you like a photo of THAT??? No, I think not!