Wednesday, 29 November 2017

That day has come.....

When you've dreamed of THAT day for ages.
Then it comes.
And you are too knackered to celebrate it......

That day. When Okaasan moves out of our home and into a care home. Well, actually out of hospital and into a care home. But you know what I mean.

Once I wrote about celebrating with cheese fondue and wine on this day. Eating the food we could never eat while living with his mum.
Well, I am still at the office catching up on paperwork (and blog!), he is probably at home with a beer. We had a late lunch, so we agreed to eat leftovers.

So. The moving day.
As if the saga of the bloody curtains and moving his mum across the city wasn't enough to deal with - we ALSO had to get one of the cars into the car dealer for a winter tire change. Booked months ago and just happened to be on the same day.

So. Cars all ready and packed with last things for Okaasan and winter tires, we were at the sewing shop at 9.30 am to get the curtains.
Then across the city to the care home - curtains put in place.
Then the car dealer.
Then...the hospital where Okaasan was sitting dressed on her bed, a little bemused about all the staff coming to say goodbye to her...
"Where am I going today?" she asked me while DS was away paying at the office.
"Ahh!! Look you have a nice, stylish muffler!" I cried with desperation....and got her looking and thinking about that...and not where she was headed next.

The 3 of us into the car and back across the city to the care home. Funnily enough, it is 4 blocks away from the very first hospital she went into after the fall in April.

Big welcome. Okaasan confused....lots of chat about the height of the bed and walker, and then Okaasan was actually wheeled away to the lounge for lunch with other residents while we sat down in her room for a pow-wow with the care worker, the 10th floor manager, the rehabilitation staff and the lady from the bed rental company. 
There was a general review of Okaasan's situation this year - and what level of care we hoped for now. DS had to sign about 15 documents...add his seal etc...duplicates...etc etc....all very official.

Curtains!!! Look!!!!!!!!!

After that we stole away for lunch and I did a class. Then 3 hours later we went back to see how she was faring.

She seemed a little tense, a little loud voiced...but also smiles and giggles. We took snacks and a magazine. She and I sat in her room watching TV while DS had a meeting with the doctor. Okaasan recognised things as hers, but somehow the room feels bare.
The nice flower wall stickers I had bought to decorate the walls seemed hard to use, I will have to try and do that another time. I still wonder if she needs a table....

When it was time for us to go (car dealer and back to work....) we took her back to the main lounge and the staff wheeled her into place at a table with other old ladies, near the TV. Okaasan did exchange some words with them...and she did wave at us as we left.

Dear Son said: "she looks happy, I think" maybe he feels reassured. He will go again tomorrow.
We'll see how the first night goes. 

I think she doesn't notice any difference in the lounge - at the hospital or the care home. Just a room with tables, people and a big TV.
But her room is a different space, and she will be alone there - before it was a shared room.

We will see......

Of course I am happy. Finally got her into a care home with professional care. My winter will be free.
But I worry that the change will make her condition worse again....the current drugs have her basically calm and happy. We don't want to go back to restraints and anger.

So. I am now going home to drink a glass of Yuzu wine and leftovers. And watch War and Peace, BBC costume drama at its best. Tomorrow I have to prepare for a tourism workshop I am speaking at this weekend....and OMG! Just remembered I have the dentist tomorrow...

Onwards :-)

* Thankyou for your messages of support for the blog. I will try to continue - but it will be less. I will probably see Okaasan twice a week....but we all want to know how she gets on in the care home and what happens.....and I promise some pix of Hokkaido snow, skiing, cats and ......whatever....

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Room setting up...


Sunday morning. With slight hangovers from DS's birthday dinner the night before...he and I are sitting in our socks on the floor of the care home room.
Sewing curtains.
I HATE sewing. Really. My mother was a skilled sewer. Hell, she actually wrote and edited books on the subject in the UK in the 1970s.
Me? hate it.

Our moving Okaasan's stuff into the care home started well - bright and early we managed to pack all her things into one car and arrived just after 9 am at the next stage of our life with Okaasan. The staff were so welcoming, we had 3 trolleys of stuff to take to the 10th floor. A slight wait for the room key and then - we were in and setting up.
As you can see - the rental bed, wheelchair and walking frame were ready.
We set to with TV and table, clothes boxes, clothes rack, trash box, personal knickknacks...and curtains.

They were too long.
Dear Son had measured the window for me. I'd sized up all the curtains we possess. And chosen the green ones. And washed the net curtains to go with them.

Dear Son hadn't noticed the small heater/air con unit on the wall below the window....both net and green were about 20 cm too long.

Luckily it's Japan on a Sunday morning and 100 Yen shops sell everything. So we went and bought a travel sewing kit and double sided tape for easy-hemming.

No problem! Curtains down again. Both of us in our socks with curtains spread out on the floor. He tried to tape up the net curtains, I attempted sewing on the heavier green ones....the travel sewing kit scissors disintegrated every time I tried to use them...designed for tiny TINY fingers??

Intense concentration. Sounds of the care home echoed around us. The resident who has "Hi ho, Hi ho" - yes, the Disney dwarf song - as their motion sensor alarm song was apparently trying to get to the toilet endlessly...we could here the staff chatting...people moving around.
We sewed and taped on.
Hate sewing. Okaasan may notice bad sewing. May complain. Have to make it look ok. Wish I hadn't sold her sewing machine about 6 days ago.....the tape didn't work. I sewed the net curtains too. Swearing at the scissors.

Finally done.
We hang them up. Um. Not hanging right. Gaps. Looks bad. Even to me. And Dear Son. I try to make them better. Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
If Okaasan notices them - she may throw a hissy fit and hate the room. Obviously.

"I think we should get them professionally done?" ventures DS.
I agree. We sigh and take them down again.....finish up the room and head out to lunch, exhausted. Later, deliver the curtains to a local sewing shop - professional lady will do a rush job and have them ready by Okaasan moving day - in 3 days time.....

The rest of the room? We hope it looks ok. We hope she will enjoy the familiar things...
Wash basin area.

The photographs, the clothes, the scarves, the Tv.....
The view....not great today...but there WAS a naked man opening his curtains at 10 am!!!!! I may have to move in myself...

Why did Okaasan cut this pic out of a newspaper ages ago and pin it to the wall? She loves flowers and pink and red - pretty things. Why THIS picture? Anyway, it's come with her to this new home...

Still things the need doing, before Wednesday.
A small shelf near the sink for towels.
Washing stuff.
A nice bath towel.
A curtain to hang above the entrance door, so she feels it is HER room...
Bedside table?


And curtains.

This will all be wonderful eventually.
Now, it is just tiring.
Her old room has great big dusty gaps in it now. I will spend my winter cleaning it and getting rid of a lot of her old stuff. Downsizing....the cats are already living there.

My Okaasan and me time is coming to an end...
9 years.
What will I do with this blog? Living together with Okaasan is coming to an end.
But I will continue, because I sense all of you lovely readers want to know what happens to Okaasan from now on.

And me?
Maybe so? I feeeel your lurve...


Thursday, 23 November 2017

We have a date :-)

Oh yes indeedy. Double kneedy. Don't get greedy...

We have a date for Okaasan to enter a care home!

Next Monday? Tuesday?  Ok...we have two possible dates.
Moving stuff into her room this Sunday, then moving her next week.
A new chapter of our life.

Dear Son spent THREE hours in discussions with the hospital/carehome/social work staff yesterday. 3 hours. A group of Japanese people can talk any possible decision into the ground and round and round.....
All about the rules of the care home and what they will do/we will do. What Okaasan needs.

DS said Okaasan didn't really understand what the visitors were coming for...anything about the impending move. Just smiles and greetings. Thankfully, she trusts him.
We will rent bed, wheelchair and sensor mat. Pay for bed lined and cleaning service. Hopefully we can furnish the rest. Starting to look around our home and my classroom to think what furniture could be used.

Funny, this blog started...9 years ago...with us doing the same. Prepping a small apartment near our then-home for Okaasan's imminent arrival to live "with" us. It was early December and we'd just come back from a holiday in India, celebrating Dear Son's 50th birthday. He'd decided his mom in the Tokyo suburbs wasn't coping well living alone and that she'd be better moving to our city.
A small apartment two doors down was free and we came back from holiday to finish furnishing it with new carpets and kitchen stuff, curtains etc And I was worrying about life in close proximity with a woman I hardly knew.

And here we are again.
This weekend is DS's birthday...and we are prepping a room for his mum. Her last home? Probably.

Meanwhile I am making plans to talk to my accountant about a business change as we are asking the house owner about moving my English school here...and Okaasan's old room in this house has become a cat dozing space, a plant wintering room and a laundry.


Sunday, 19 November 2017

"She is AMAZING!"

This exciting news greeted me Friday night as I came home thru the door from work.
Dear Son. Very excited.
"Okaasan. Today! Rehabili! I took video, I'll show you later...she is amazing!"

My heart sank.....

As we talked about the weekend ahead I mentioned how we must sort out the things necessary for Okaasan's room move. I'd measured the curtains etc And if we were going to do that next Wednesday I needed at least 24 hours notice so I could reschedule one student.

"Ah. Next week might be difficult. I don't know..."
Heart sank a bit further.
Oh God. He'd seen her trolley around at speed. He imagines her coming home. He is doubting the whole care home scenario..oh god.

But he was just prepping dinner, it was Friday night after a longish work week. I was ready to pour a glass of wine, eat tacos and forget about hard things. So I did. Alcohol and food masked the fears.

Saturday morning we returned to the subject of Okaasan.
He showed me his smart phone video of Okaasan in the hospital rehabilitation room.
Walk round the whole room, at speed with a walking frame on roller wheels !!!!!!
Actually followed closely by a staff member, ready to catch her - but still. A big change from a week ago, when she was still walking about 3 m between parallel bars and sitting down for a rest.
There she was trollying around the whole room.
It was amazing.

Short silence.
I bit the elephant in the room.

"It IS amazing. But she still isn't safe to leave alone at home. She can't come home. You know that, don't you? Are you thinking she can come home now?"

"I feel I a good son...."

"You ARE a good son. I'm a good daughter-in-law. We've been good for 9 years. Now is the next stage beginning. We can't cope with her at home. Even with 5 days a week day care....she won't be safe. Really. You will be away skiing, I will have to get her ready for day care every morning, she will have to walk down the front door steps in the snow to the car...we can't leave her alone at IS the best thing to do for her. I'm done. I've done the winter care for years. Sorry, I am not doing it again. It isn't safe for her alone here....etc etc etc...etc"

All of it, again.

"I know. I know. She won't be safe here..."

"But you said last night that moving her next week may be you want to stop the care home plan? Leave her in the hospital more? Will YOU give up this ski season to stay home with her? Will you????"

And on we went....all the cards on the table...all the emotions out...all the fears swirling across our breakfasts.

He explained that:
* he feels guilty
* but he knows she should go to care home
* the "difficult" about next week isn't due to him - but actually due to two more meetings that need to happen from the care home and the hospital. On Monday.
* so it might be another week before we can furnish the room and move her.
* he doesn't plan on giving up a ski season to care for his mum
*  he even showed me the official documents he is preparing for her to move
*  he convinced me that we ARE on the same page about this

And of course what had happened was a confluence of miscommunication: my fears/his elation/his vagueness about next week/my misinterpretation of that/fears/guilt...confusion.

But I tell you. In the midst of that bare-it-all conversation I felt all you dear blog readers with me - all standing on the sidelines cheering me on: "Go Amanda! Go! Stand up for yourself! Don't let your delicious, new-found, winter freedom slip away! Fight!".

And I did. Thankyou.

Turns out my winter freedom wasn't in serious jeopardy. But I was worried there for a few hours...a sickening feeling.

I want it all this coming winter: the skiing, the friends, the movies...and I've even been offered a big tourism writing  job, which I think I will have time for....
And moving the English school in the early spring....that is a big thing to come...

All dependent on Okaasan being safely homed in that nice care home, with twice a week visits from me....

So. Still waiting...wish they'd all get a move on. Before Okaasan starts doing the can-can across the rehabili room and swinging from the rafters.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Still waiting for care home action.
The doctor at the hospital has written a report on Okaasan. The care home has received it - now they have to decide whether they will let her in.....
SHOULD be no problem...but....

I mean, she isn't destructive or aggressive as the meds are working. She is just an old lady needing help constantly.

We went to see her on Saturday for about an hour.
When we arrived she was in the day room in her wheelchair with another old lady. Both of them parked in front of the TV happily.

We did the usual: went to the 5th floor lounge for a coffee and a cake snack, then round to the other windows. Mostly silent, but a bit of repeated chat about the main road and the UNIQLO signs, the trees, the weather....she was mentally bright, but repetitive. And copies our gestures - if we talk about our chair design and stroke the arm rest - she does the same to her wheelchair...if I mention my sweater - she fingers with her own sweater.

After an hour of idle chat...and  a diaper change by a nurse - we parked her back in front of the TV and came away.

So. Waiting. Soon....

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Okaasan's Care Home!

Just writing that title makes me happy!!! :-)

Forgive me if I break off every now and then to go do a happy dance....

One stage of Okaasan and Me life is finished, and the next stage is in motion.

Wednesday we went back to the hospital/care home to check out various points, got shown round by 3 staff...bathrooms, rooms, recreation room again, huge confusing discussion about financing (even the people working in welfare in Japan are confused by the government's latest tweaks)...and finally...

We were standing in the recreation room - when Dear Son said to me:
"So? What do you think?"
"About here? It's good. It's got everything. Yes, I think we should choose a room..."

And he agreed. The staff laughed, because it was obvious who wears the pants in decision making in this couple, and we all went back upstairs and looked at the three vacant rooms. Proximity to nurse station, wheelchair toilet, view, light...

And decided on Okaasan's room :-)    :-)

One of the smaller rooms, but big enough for bed and furniture - that we will rent and bring from home. A view of an apartment building, a bit of the city and mountains. Next to the toilet. Within sight of the nurse station.
The atmosphere on a weekday in the whole place was different: residents, families and various care workers around. A gaggle of old ladies watching TV, an old man sorting thru newspapers and more mobile residents taking walks around. It felt all good.
Her floor has about 15 rooms, a lounge with TV etc where that floor residents eat together. Lots of toilets, bathrooms. Downstairs is the recreation room with exercise machines and a central table where handicrafts etc take place.

It's not Florida. No garden. Just a nicely decorated tower block in the city center. But it is light and clean. I hope Okaasan will settle into life there - her own room with things around her, the lounge with the TV and outings with us locally.
He chose downtown because it will be easy for him to go before or after work in summer. In winter I can get there on Tuesdays after work, and by car at other times. There is a hospital in the building if she needs help in any way.

After the room was chosen we went downstairs again and he filled out the application forms. He looked knackered after it all. I was doing happy dances in my brain - finally!! Finally! - but we quietly went out separate ways to work. Had a quiet dinner and small discussion that night.

Okaasan is going to move from our home and daily care to a care home.

Never thought I'd be able to write that!

When? In the next 2 weeks maybe? Lots of official paperwork to be done.

I've started thinking what things from her room here at home we should move - and we already started to make plans to move my English school here. have to ask the house owners etc and make plans for THAT. It'll be interesting too see which of my students reads this blog and understands that the school may far students have heard me talk about moving Okaasan, without making the next-thought-step: what about your big house?  It's a home we rented for three people to live. far too big for just two of us - and I will be very very Home Alone here this winter.
But moving the English School will be financially a good idea, and will use the space.

I haven't told the cat yet. He thinks the room off the kitchen, the blanket, the sofa....all his....

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Done. Applied for a care home. He's signed documents.
The next stage is in motion.

Gotta work now - more later.