Thursday, 23 September 2021

Another move. Another hospital bed...

 Okaasan has moved again.

Back, in fact, to the hospital unit of the care home where she is no longer a resident. She'll be there for a month maybe, while they monitor how the arm feeding is doing and whether the system is stable enough for her to be moved again to a more permanent care hospital.

This week in Japan it was Respect for the Elderly Day, and the Residents' Association came to the front door - with a present for Okaasan! They know she is in hospital now, but she is on the list for this we received shopping vouchers on her behalf - worth $30.

Dear Son went and did all the necessary admin stuff for her hospital moves this week, since I was working.

He said that she was fine, in herself. Knew him and smiled. Seemed herself.

Now we just wait again. State of Emergency for COVID in this region may end next week, so maybe the hospital will allow us to visit her more.

Her furniture and clothes are also still waiting back here at the house: for distribution to a charity drive, or the recycle shop. I had a VERY bad week after my 2nd Covid vaccination shot - the arm pains went on and on, the lymph glands under my arm specially bad...swollen boob. Exhaustion coming at me in waves.

I did the work that was unavoidable, and cancelled the rest. Went to bed when I could. Didn't drink alcohol all week!

So, processing Okaasan's things took a back seat. It's all still around our hallway, kitchen and my classroom. Maybe tomorrow. One of the cats is also poorly with asthma, so he needs attention. 

Plodding on in life a bit. Good news - I can now walk one mile and a half with the Achilles tendon damage of this spring. So, there's a good thing.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

All vaccined UP!

 As a family we are now full vaccinated.


Okaasan got her 2nd shot this week in the hospital that is currently "home", and Dear Son and I got our shots last Sunday.

NEXT week Okaasan will transfer back to the hospital unit of her former care home...for how long we don't know...and then? Don't know.

I can't go next week as I've got work scheduled the same morning, but Dear Son will go to check her in and out of the two facilities and follow the ambulance/transfer special taxi between places.

Our vaccine week was eventful. The day itself went smoothly - although my process thru the vaccination line was slow as both the check in staff and the checking doctor wanted to do the instructions in English with me (kind of sweet, I told them Japanese ok, but can't begrudge people wanting to use their language skills).

Our stresses started Day 2. Dear Son was completely knocked out for 24 hours. I mean: he didn't even drink alcohol!

He was in bed, emerging to use the toilet and eat a bit. Then back to bed.

Day 2 night I started feeling it. The Moderna Arm, the fever.

Day 3 and 4 was crashing exhaustion, arm and then pains in lymph glands where I didn't even know I HAD glands. Specially arm pit and side...swollen, throbbing, pains. At one point my left boob looked like I'd been trampled in a stampede of overweight cats and I read online that women with a similar reaction have been inundating cancer check clinics this year - because THAT's what it looked like.

The exhaustion came and went. I did a class downtown ok. Started feeling tired, came home and cancelled the rest of the day - laid out in bed for hours.

Yesterday was Day 6 and I managed a 20 minute creep round my local park, using the handrails for the steps and taking a rest on a bench.

Hoping today will be better.

Wow. Hadn't expected all of that post-vaccination reaction. We'd bought fever reducing meds, but didn't use them. The exhaustion and headaches were far worse. And my lymph glands.

On the latter, I read online that some scientists believe the lymph reaction is more common among people who've had the infection at some point. Maybe true - looking back to the few days in winter/spring 2020, when they news was full of the new from-China virus that caused coughing and fever.

I had several days of fever and exhaustion, but no cough. So, maybe.

Whatever, I don't want to experience anything like this past week again. Heavy.

I see ex-pat online groups this morning are full of chat about the UK government relaxing some of the travel rules, so that doubly vaccinated people can get into the Uk more easily, and that the Japanese vaccinations will be recognized. It's wonderful news for so many people. I have friends who haven't seen their elderly/sick/or new family members in over 2 years - so these changes will make a big difference to so many.

I'm ok. Japan is home. I've got friends I want to see one day - in Manchester/Surrey/Cambridge shire/Hampshire/the West Country, but no urgent family situations. When international travel becomes somehow more normal again I will plan a trip. For now, happy to be where I am.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021




Goodbye to this care home room, after...what is it? 3 years?

We spent an exhausting day on Sunday packing up everything in Okaasan's care home room and moving it all back in to our home again to decide whether to keep/sell/throw away/give away.

Yet more downsizing of Okaasan's life. I feel as if I have done this so many times, picking up her clothes and stuff and deciding what to do with it. I know each scarf, each T-shirt.

The actual stripping of the room was fairly easy. Took us an hour. Checking with the staff to remember what was ours: the curtains, the little table, the trash box, the clothes rack, the TV, the TV table, the clothes boxes...all the clothes....scarves....

It seems only recently we were furnishing this room, trying to make it pleasant. Dear Son did all the final documentation at the care home, and we bowed our official thanks. It was an ok place, not great - the first lot of staff were wonderful - but after the company was taken over - and there were all those family meetings about staff changes - it became just a sterile system kind of place. Okaasan was ok there, but it wasn't ideal.

After clearing we came back home. Our hallway and the classroom filled with stuff, and after lunch we set to sorting through it all.

Clothes: how many does she actually need? Will she ever get out of hospital pajamas, in to a wheelchair and outside into sunshine? Does she need her coat, gloves and hat? I'm sure she would LIKE to wear her old red cardigan again, to see her colorful scarves. But do elderly care hospitals allow that kind of thing on or near a bed-living patient?

And ...sometime in the unknown near future...what clothes will we ask a funeral company to dress Okaasan in for the final time? I chose her favorite blouse and some black slacks.

I kept some things, that I know she likes. I kept some nice scarves/shawls for myself. Made a small pile of clothes for the recycle shop. Threw away a whole LOT of clothes that were dirty, tatty, unsellable.

Dear Son did the non-clothes sorting...the photographs, the knickknacks, the clothes hangers, the papers...

The recycle shop refused to take the 12 years old TV, but I found a new home it thru the foreigner's buy/sell mailing system and we drove to the north side of the city to deliver it to a nice Filipino woman. Gave it away, 12 years old and when it dies there will be recycle costs.

The rest of the stuff - furniture and curtains...still downstairs now. I'm cleaning them and then we'll try to get rid of them.

Curtains!! OMG! Now I remember the setting up hassle with this. The care home room window was a strange shape. My sewing service woman did a  rushed job to shorten one curtain, and the net curtains. At the time it had to be a rushed job...but the result is that NOW I have one curtain longer than the other!!

So, do I try to sell them like this? Or do I pay her to shorten the other one, and try to get some of the money back on the resale?

Decisions. All of this downsizing is exhausting because it is the physical part or moving the stuff around...but more than that it is the endless decision making. 

SO! I'm saying it again. To you, to me. While you still have the energy - SORT THRU YOUR STUFF AND THROW OUT WHAT YOU DON'T USE/NEED!!!!

Because at some point, your family or a stranger will have to do it for you. At some point you won't be able to. Make a plan to spend 30 mins a day looking at the things around you and deciding if you really need to be keeping it!!

Just looking at the bookcase to my right now I can see an old broken bedside light stand. Like, really?? What am I keeping that for? I am going to stand up, pick it up and take it downstairs to the trash box.

Thursday, 2 September 2021



Visited Okaasan yesterday and spent a wonderful whole 30 mins with her!

She was very alert, knew us, knew the TV cooking show was switched on, laughed, smiled...even spoke a few words. Did the goldfish gesture with her mouth. Looked from us to the nurse as we talked. Responded with her eyes and nods to conversation about her home town and the Tokyo Olympics (in 1964).

All great. When we arrived she was due to have a bath, but the staff delayed that and let us sit for ages with her. It was a good visit.


The meeting with the doctor and discussions about what to do next about the feeding. Continue with medicine thru the nose pipe, and nutrition thru the arm into the vein. Or, a small operation to insert a tube direct into the stomach. And/Or wait for a few weeks to see if the infection at the chest feeding port clears, and that entry point to the vein can be used again.

If she has the stomach feeding, she wouldn't need to wear mittens to stop her pulling out tubes.

And yes, best to cancel the care home contract - because Okaasan won't ever be going back to care home life. From now on it will be hospital units. But...and this is a crazy thing about health care insurance in Japan...she WILL have to return to the hospital unit of the care home...for a short time...and then (probably) back to the current hospital (which is in the same group).

This last point has nothing to do with care. It's all to do with health insurance rules in Japan. There's a 3 month limit on stays - I guess to stop hospitals keeping patients forever for money reasons. But, like all systems, the work around it is: move the patient out and then back in again....

Anyway. The central question.๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Dear Son decided: "No" to the stomach feeding tube, because a) Okaasan herself wouldn't support this idea and b) her problems this summer started because of stomach ulcers and bleeding, so it seems risky to start activating the stomach again.

So, that's what he hopes will happen. Back to arm/vein feeding, with the option to use the chest port again if that becomes possible. Ironically, the doctor said Okaasan has GAINED weight recently as the nutrition feeding has progressed.

It's such a hard subject. Food is a life essential, and feeding somebody you love is a given. Medical technology has created whole systems of ways to keep to body alive, but are they getting in the way of a natural course of events? I think yesterday's decision would have been easier if Okaasan had been lying in bed, unresponsive. But she wasn't. She was alert and happy.

So. That's where we are now.