Sunday, 16 December 2018

Navel gazing

Tis the season to get sentimental.
Christmas baubles, memories and all.

A grey, strangely warm day with Sapporo streets full of dirty melting snow. I walked and rode the streetcar to spend time with Okaasan.
Sometimes a bit of a toss up: Should I go spend time with the old demented lady who knows who I am, but not when I last came? Or should I spend time with my comatose friend who probably doesn't know who I am/when I came/that I'm there?

Okaasan won. Dear Son was home for two brief nights and  day of car problems. So he hadn't been. I felt it right that I go to Okaasan.

There we are. Cans of fermented rice drink, sweet bean and rice snacks. Eating at the little table in her room, where we watched a fascinating nature documentary about unusual apes in the Amazon jungle.
We walked with the walker around the care home corridors. Briefly went out to the entrance area and fresh air. One toilet visit. 
She was ok enough. A little down, I felt. Any topic I tried to chat about - rich Chinese paying her son to teach them skiing/Korean food/holidays bin America - nothing seemed to spark much interest. She glanced around and said "Oh, I don't know, this old lady doesn't know anything, I don't know anything" in a pitiful voice...
But she made eye contact and smiled as I tried to babble on. We enjoyed the amazing apes program together.
I made a promise to my guilty heart that next time I visit I should get her out in the car or a taxi - to some department store and Christmas lights and fun. It IS hard to feel a spark of anything in a care home.

Guilty heart.
Today's sentimental theme.

I've been hooked on the US TV drama "This is US", a two season drama of family - race/addiction and lots of guilt. Almost at the end of Season 2 now. Hooked completely.

Made me think about my own childhood and parents....unfinished stuff and guilt.
All 4 of my parents have died. Birth parents and stepparents. I'm the product of a divorce, but to be honest I never know any different -so I was/am entirely happy with the way I grew up. Lived with mum and her partner, holidays with Dad and his partner.

I inherited good and bad from them all: Good includes a lot of independence and adventurism, adaptability...Bad list could probably be headed by too emotional/too independent/too judgemental/apt to fly off the handle and go my own way...

Guilt? Like in the TV drama?
They all died when I wasn't there. I was here in Japan.
Long term readers of this blog will remember the awful 2 years when I flew back and forth between my two lives - sometimes in a wheelchair after knee damage and an ovaries operation - as my dad and his wife were hospitalized and in care....and finally died at home. I had to go and sort out the house. The most exhausting, emotional thing to do.

On the other side. My mum died almost 20 years ago when I first came to Sapporo. Her partner got a new lady friend - moved her into his and mom's home and she looked after him  (so I dodged that care giving), then when HE died - he left the house to use as long as she needs....he and I - never so loving - had a kind of rapprochement when he was sick. A few friendly letters...

If I have guilt about unfinished stuff. It is mum.
I went back to the UK when she became sick - I got a job and shared a house with strangers - to try and share the sickness with her etc. But it was hard - she and her partner had been doing it all together while I was away in Japan - and, of course, they couldn't really open up that cancer fight togetherness battle to me....there was a lot of friction between me and stepdad. 
Finally, in a very unhappy time - I escaped to the last part of my life that had felt happy- back to Japan. Bought an air ticket and had to tell the family that I was leaving. Again. Leaving my dieing mother. Not being dramatic. She really was. We all knew it. She knew it.

I can't think how painful that must have been for her. To know that we would probably never meet again. We didn't say that, of course. But by them, she was sick enough and a realist know it.

I left her and my step-father to battle the cancer with the doctors.
I came back to Japan to start a new life. Here in Hokkaido - where eventually so many great things have happened to me.
A few months later mum died in England.

One of mum's friends told me later that she'd been happy to get letters from me in Japan, telling her about life there. Happy that I was happy. As parents are. I hope that is true, and not just an adult's comforting words to a child.

But I do have guilt. That I escaped the sickness and death. The family fights and stress. I wasn't there.

Which a very long Me and Okaasan. 
I think I am trying to absolve some of that guilt with my care of this old Japanese woman. It is my time to care for an elder and do the duties. To help someone end their life happily. The boring visits, the snacks, the TV watching, the toilet jokes and laughs. Happy to get a smile and laugh out of her.

Mind you - it's a LOT easier to be kinder now she isn't living with me :-) A lot. Once a week I can be kind and generous with my time. Ease the guilt and do some good.

Long, waffly confession. My god. Am I really going to push the button and put this out there in blog land.Guess so. Not a Catholic. but good wallow in inner feelings and stuff.

This is Us. Good drama. Give it a try. Will make you think a lot...and then spill it all over the internet.

Finally. Let's leave on a lighter note. As I was on my way to Okaasan today, the screenshot below came up on my Facebook memories...two years ago...when I came home to find Okaasan had probably eaten grass seeds intended for feline hairball easement....Oh the fun times we had then :-)

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Winter routine

So. Another winter of Okaasan and Me.
But I am here at home. And she is there in HER home.
Relaxed!! That's me...I think she is relaxed...

Dear Son left for 10 days work at the ski resorts and the house became a Cat Super Playground day by day....pieces of string on the carpet, chairs and boxes made into tunnels...mangled bits balls of fluff.
And I got deeply hooked on an American TV drama called "This is Us".

Occasionally I emerged into daylight to go and do some work or shopping, and then returned to entertaining cats and watching TV.

And Okaasan. At the weekend I bought cans of hot, sweetened sake and some rice cakes - went to the care home for an hour. Impossible to take her out in the wheelchair now, because the roads are icy and snowy.
 She and I sat in her room, with the food and drink - watching her TV and chatting. Then I got her up and into the walking frame to totter around the corridors. Took her in the chair to the care home front door for some fresh air. Did a toilet visit with the help of one of the staff - I haven't actually changed Okaasan's diapers at all - the staff rush in to do that ....thankfully.

She seems happy. Chatted about the food on the TV, the snow, the Christmas decorations....we talked about travel...and she had no memory of going to America or Australia....those stories seem to have vanished. Long ago I sat night after night listening to her talk about her travels...revolving stories with the same she doesn't have those memories....

Did I tell you that the doctor thinks her Care Level is better now? Last year they thought it was Level 4. Now level 3. Mentally and physically she is improved from this time a year ago....not near the level where she could be alone at home OF COURSE!!! But a calmer level.

Onwards to Christmas...

Friday, 30 November 2018

A year of care home

It's been a whole year: Okaasan living in the care home.
Facebook kindly reminded me, along with pictures of snow and Dear Son birthday parties of the past years, that in November 2017 Okaasan started her new life.
As did we.
And the cats finally claimed the room with the oh-so-soft carpet and heater.

It took her over two months to settle into life there. But she has done. And that is still surprising because she is/was such an independent person. But now she chats with other old ladies and the staff, enjoys the entertainments they have in the lounge, takes her meds and walks around with a stroller (not strongly, but walking).

Last weekend we took her by car to the department store and wheeled her around the Christmas displays and sat in the food court to eat snacks and coffee.
She was mainly silent and smiley. But once, when I talked about the herb used to make the traditional snacks - she became very animated and told me clearly about the little white flowers on the herb.
It is a reminder that talking doesn't indicate intelligence or understanding. She may be quiet most of the time, while we prattle on - but she IS understanding. I read the blog of a woman in the UK who has dementia and she writes eloquently about the days when she can form the words in her brain, but can't speak them.
Okaasan too.

So. Snow is falling and ski season is about to start.
Dear Son will head off for his first 10 days of work this weekend. I wil head into the month of parties and special classes...and skiing....and hopefully more tour guide work.
Okaasan visiting duties fall to me. Once a week for sure...but since my very sick friend is still hanging on in alive in a hospital bed my attention is divided. She has been sick since January, with a disease where the life expectancy is 7 to 10 months. I never thought she would survive the summer...

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Couple time on holiday...

A couple of middle aged fools on holiday with a camping car :-)

It was fun and gave us many ideas for our future life. Camping car in Europe and driving and living at many different ski areas....a life after Okaasan and cats in only live once and gotta follow the dreams!

We spent a week exploring central Japan - some machine-snow ski areas in Shizuoka and Nagano (to look, not ski), and a wonderful day on rented bikes in stylish, autumnal Karuisawa...and then to Tochigi to see the Oya Stone quarry caves and the oldest stone Buddah in Japan...and finally a long boozy night with one of his friends in Yokohama.

I came back at the weekend to start work. The cats survived animal hospital stay - a little clingy and very hoarse voices. But fine, and (disappointingly) didn't lose as much weight as I'd hoped.
Dear Son is carousing with old friends in the Tokyo suburbs still - so I did the Okaasan visit on Sunday.
Now ski season is arriving it will be me more and more going to the care home - so this was the start of OUR season - Okaasan and Me at the Care Home!

This time I took in some sweetend rice drink and snacks. We sat in her room eating. Then I bundled her up in a coat and took her by wheelchair round the streets - all the way to a local department store ground floor.
She was happy and positive - had an obsession with pointing out each and every Lawson's convenience store and saying: "you can get any kind of shopping in there...".
I told her Dear Son was working at a ski resort with rich Chinese. She was happy enough with this familiar story.
Then back to the home...she had a toilet trip with one of the staff and I showed the floor manager the new pajamas I'd bought Okaasan and marked with her name. After 90 mins I left...had a delicious ramen late lunch on the way home.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Autumn ends...

Okaasan enjoys autumn. :-)

What could be more perfect? A seat in the sunshine with this view, a cup of coffee, loving family members and leaves/dogs/babies/happy people?

One of our city parks yesterday was glorious. Everyone was out to enjoy the day - which may be the last warm day of the year. We walked with the wheelchair around it and saw two of our friends (Okaasan had no idea who they were, but enjoyed the feeling of meeting someone). Okaasan was happy and smiley..very little conversation - apart from observations about sunshine and leaves...and cute dogs.
It was a lovely day.

And now? It's 4.30 am Monday...and HE and I are going on a couple holiday!!!!! Camping car trip in mainland we come!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Autumn windfall..

So, Dear Son finally got all the paperwork together to go along to a post office and close two of Okaasan's old accounts so he could transfer the monies into one account.
When he took over her affairs he discovered that she had multiple accounts, multiple seals for identification etc. Took a bit of time to sort it out. A fine day and time to take her along to a local post office to show that she was in agreement with closing the accounts etc.

The staff came to the counter with the print out of the accounts. Nothing had happened in them for over 10 years. All the time she had been living with us.

The combined amount in two accounts was close to what I earn in a YEAR! That kind of money. Just salted away into these accounts and forgotten.

Dear Son was stunned.

Now the money is all together in her main account.....and Okaasan is very comfortably off :-)

I bet this is repeated in banks and post offices all over Japan. The elderly who opened accounts, stashed away monies and then forgot. And I wonder what will happen to my generation, because we do so much online - when passwords get forgotten and family members don't even know what we have.

Anyway. A happy occurrence.
Autumn is really here now...the leaves are glorious. Starting to clean the garden for winter.
I've done 3 tour guiding jobs. All fun. Now is apparently a quiet season, before winter holidays start.

And WE are having a holiday! Next month Dear Son will be 60 years old. I am taking him to the mainland of Japan for a 5 night camper van trip. He loves the idea of camping cars - hit the road and stay anywhere - so we will see if the reality matches his dream.

Monday, 8 October 2018


Or...long time no see :-)

Thanks to Kentucky Lady for prodding me with her "Are you ok in the typhoon?" make me realize...haven't been here for a whole month!!!

Yup. Hokkaido now has earthquakes and typhoons. Really amazing. It never did before. Well, the odd shake which made everyone comment on it for days afterwards and stray typhoons that after causing destruction in mainland Japan - came up north for a rare visit.

Not in September 2018.
2? 3? typhoons...and then the big earthquake...and many many aftershocks. Last week, just as I'd stopped my daily checks of the Earthquake section of the Japan Meteorological Agency website...came 3 large aftershocks - magnitude 5 and 4 at the epicenter - and considerable shaking 100 km north here.

Sigh. A new norm.
Luckily the last two typhoons slipped south of Hokkaido and here in Sapporo it was just rain and some wind. But bad for the earthquake devastated areas.

And me.

Well. Okaasan is fine. I can now, guiltily report that. Because since the earthquake day when I hauled myself up 10 floors of stairs to check on her...I didn't actually go and see her for almost a month! Yes. I am that bad.
Dear Son went, of course. Once or twice a week. Took her out for walks in the wheelchair. Good son.
But me? I only actually went 2 days ago - after one month of not visiting!!!!
We drove her to a local park and walked all over it pushing the chair and looking at autumn colors and kids playing. She was mellow. Not so communicative now. But seemed happy enough. Laughed to watch the kids play. Commented a lot on the sunshine.

She also comments on any old person she sees who is walking slowly, or walking with a stick. Kind of smug comments about: "look at her, that's terrible to see old people like that, I'm not like that! I can walk....look at that..."....all the while sitting in a wheelchair and huffing and puffing when it comes to stand or walk a few steps.

She IS physically weaker for sure. Despite the day care and physical training...she is never going to walk unaided again. A year of bed and wheelchairs...all the old muscles are gone. It is sad, because she loved walking. But that fall changed so much in her life.

I guess for most elderly people it's the same. The families say: "Oh, he/she used to be so fine until that fall...that bad cold...that slip..." So we all gotta do as much as we can to keep our muscles as strong as possible.

Ok. That's the Okaasan update. As much as I can....for someone I've seen once in the past month.

Well, hold onto your life has taken a turn for the exciting...

I have got a part time job as a tour guide!!!

OMG. And all that.

It's the reason I have let family duties slip. Been busy and a bit stressed. One extra day a week of work....

But for me: a dream coming true??? I kind of think so.

It's been a bit of a dream for me, after years training tour guides and writing and advising on Hokkaido tourism. To actually be out there, in-person with visitors.

Last year the guiding laws changed in Japan, and now unlicensed people can work as tour guides under the management of a registered company. For ages I've followed a small local company on Instagram etc - because they had great pix of their tours in nature and it looked fun.
Then, in early September they suddenly said they were hiring full and part time guides. I recommended several friends and students to apply. Then...what the heck...actually: "What the fuck? I think I could do this? What have I got to lose by applying...."

So I did. Took a whole weekend of stress at the computer to rehash my resume, angling it all from education and writing, to tourism and writing. Applied...just as the earthquake interview was delayed because of the power cuts...then interview...job tour day with another guide...and...and...

I have now taken two day trip tours with family groups from the Philippines and Singapore. Driving the company car and visiting local beauty areas, delicious, volcano, history...
Think I love it. I can only do weekends and holidays as my main job IS still English teaching. But OH WOW!!! I think I love it.

I feel it's a kind of khama too. For the long, stressy years looking after Okaasan. Now is MY time. Something I want to do. :-)

Funny how life goes...

Friday, 7 September 2018

Hi. Here we are.
All ok.
Friends and students. Neighbors.

The whole area of Hokkaido? not so good...7 dead and 30????? missing in landslides about 80 km south of here near Tomakomai and the epicenter of the Magnitude 6 earthquake that struck at 3 am on Thursday.

Huge. Biggest I've ever felt.
And this was 24 hours after the strongest typhoon I've ever two sleepless, shocking nights.

Our home and neighborhood has no damage. Stuff fell down - mainly from the Dead Family memory drawers..the pictures of his brother/father; my parents...the old cat.....the plants...

But many areas of Sapporo city are still without power and water. Roads have been ripped up. Subway and train services..and buses are stopped for a 2nd day. The airport will open...
And beyond, in the rural area south of Sapporo a lot more damage and a whole village gone under large scale landslides.

We jumped from bed at 3 am with the shaking and rumbling. One cat ran outside. The other returned very nervy about 2 hours later.
We watched TV...and then 20 minutes later the electricity went out. Only the emergency lights in the subway tunnel next to the house were on. Fantastic stars...

Many aftershocks...

We had smartphone connection at first...and then that weakened as the phone company system got overloaded. Our work was cancelled - my NHK Culture School work was cancelled by a phonecall from NHK in Tokyo...because local staff couldn't do it.

Strange day.....we helped our 93 year old neighbor....who spent ages wondering why her TV wasn't working...and why she couldn't call her family. Luckily we could call her son on the smartphone...
Helped a friend charge her ipad from my car battery...
Cut off from information really - as the rest of Japan..and then friends abroad...started seeing TV pictures. We didn't know...

Traffic lights out. Long lines at shops which were open, but dark....standpipes for water...helicopters...ambulance and police sirens. The subway line next to the house silent (today too).

Mid-afternoon I drove to a friend's home to get give her ipad charging from the car...and we drove carefully to Okaasan's care home. I climbed the stairs to the 10th floor...lights out, but they had a pump for water for toilets and drinking.
Okaasan and her friends and staff all gathered round the living room in the TV...but happy enough.
"The weather is bad there are no lights" Okaasan told me....

I stayed about 10 mins to chat brightly to them all...and then left. The care home staff were doing all they could...

Back home Dear Son and I had an impromptu BBQ because the meat in the freezer was defrosting and our cooking system is electric. So, amid disaster we are sitting in the garden in sunshine, eating sirloin steak and warm beer....

This is what happens at times of disaster....humans do seemingly strange things...because...well...we are human and life goes on...we get on with it.
100 meters away residents of the apartment were taking cooking pans to the nearby water stand in the park to get water...we offered them our water...but the park was closer...

About 5.30 pm our power came back on and we could join the disaster-watching-on-TV with everyone else. And realise how lucky we were.

helped the elderly neighbor again...get her rice cooker going..and the TV....and contact her family by phone. (Although we were impressed - 3 lots of day service/home visiting staff came to check on her during the day!!).

The aftershocks go on and on...jolts...vibrations..rattlings...

The biggest earthquake i've experienced. Even more than the quake/tsunami/nuclear crisis a few years ago - because the epicenter of this was much closer to us.

But we are lucky.
Today, maybe I have work. A Couch Surf guest may come...if his flight can land...I have Wifi...water...some gas in the car...and all-important electricity.


Monday, 27 August 2018

Don't count your Okaasans before...

...they fall.

Probably JUST as I was writing the last post about "nothing" on Friday afternoon, before leaving work....
Okaasan was taking herself to the toilet in her wheelchair...and somehow fell.
Dear Son got the phone call from the care staff to report they'd found her on the toilet floor.
She was ok. Didn't know what had happened. No apparent injury.
Of course we went the next day - she was the falls of kids and drunks...where you land and don't, amazingly, injure anything.
We took her for a wheelchair push around the neighborhood and ended up having to use the public toilets in a nearby hotel. The doors were a little narrow for a wheelchair (disabled access regulations???) and there were no grab rails, so I had to get Okaasan grabbing onto ME, while Dear Son hovered at the door way to the Ladies apologetically. With his shoulder injury he can't do much anyway.
So, I'm in the toilet stall - straddling the bowl - and Okaasan has her arms wrapped around my waist while I reach over/behind and under her to pull down her pants...and pull out the diaper pad....personal boundaries well and truly DOWN in this relationship now!
To think I used to be shy about going into the bathroom while she took a bath. Now I am fishing around between her legs for the soiled diaper...

Anyways....she is fine.
Onwards into more nothing...

Friday, 24 August 2018

Update on nothing...

Knowing you are clicking on this blog link on an daily, nay HOURLY, basis to check what is new....

Not a lot.

Since Okaasan's birthday our life has pottered along thru the summer. Such a strange summer here in Japan, scorching hot weeks, then rain and typhoons chasing typhoons.
I blame Donald Trump. Somehow.

Okaasan is good. 
We have visited several times - walked the local streets and had drinks and snacks in the nearest convenience store. 
At the care home we arrived one day to find a traditional Japanese flute concert by a volunteer in progress. Okaasan and her companions were in their wheelchairs in an appreciative circle.
It's quite clear now that she does have friends and hangs out with them. So wonderful to see her with friends of her own generation and chatty and smiley. One even told us that Okaasan is able to go to the toilet alone in her wheelchair now...which gave me a panic about could-she-come-and-live-at-home-again....but Dear Son reassures me he isn't thinking like that......relief :-)

OUR health hasn't been great though....I damaged my sole and heel,something-plasticizes? Stupidly banged by sole on a metal chair...many many times...and then found I'd damaged the muscles. I've spent August in cushioned sports shoes and hunting the internet for foot strengthening exercises.
And Dear Son is nursing a delicate upper arm and shoulder - maybe ligament damage - after a car crash last week! His bike taxi AND another car were hit by a private taxi that jumped red lights. A lot of damage to the vehicles, but all three drivers were ok.
Friday night at the hospital, insurance company and police phone calls....and he is off work.

We both feel a bit old...tired....
The cats are fine - doing what cats do and bringing home young mice to leave just outside the bedroom door at night.

So. That's our August. Soon to be into autumn.
Not a lot of scintillating stuff to write about Okaasan.
She is.
We are.
And another typhoon is barreling our way...

Monday, 6 August 2018

Happy Birthday Okaasan

88 years and going strong ...Happy Birthday to Okaasan for another year.

We enjoyed cream and strawberry cake at the care home in her room, drank ice canned coffee and went for a stroll in the local streets by wheelchair. Lots of laughs and chat. 

She knows it is her birthday - knows her date of birth - knows us - knows that this building and that room is her home - all appears well in her world. A year ago we were in the middle of the hell of broken back bone/off the scale dementia and anger and drugs and hospitals.
This summer. All calm.

Recently she had another dementia assessment interview, with the results later this month. Hard for us to gauge HOW her dementia is now - because we only see her for short periods of time at the care home. Her walking is just about ok with the walking frame - but not very far, and not very strongly.

Meanwhile at home I've noticed we've stopped calling the downstairs rooms: "Okaasan's room"...because now it is actually "Chichi's room"....the cat has made it is own. Sleeping on the tatami where it is cool, dozing on the guest bedding.
And we are enjoying a summer without Okaasan duties - our big BBQ again - without me having to sober up at 6 pm to cook dinner for Okaasan and get rid of the noisy guests that made her so angry. A summer of casual eating...sudden dining out decisions...

The house still seems huge for just the two of us. But we won't move while Okaasan is still alive. After she's gone we'll consider the next stage of our lives. But for now, we will stay here and in this working/living pattern - occasional guests fill the space...and the cats are happy to claim what they've craved for years.

Onwards :-)

Monday, 16 July 2018

Family lunch :-)

Lunch out! Mission Accomplished!

A success - after lots of worry about Okaasan's ability physically and mentally to deal with a car trip/wheelchair transfers/toilet trip to an unfamiliar place/lunch in public...this is the first time in 18 months we have gone out together for a meal. Many short visits to convenience store cafe spaces for short sits and coffee - but finally a trip out as a family.

And on a horrible day of wind and rain. Couldn't be helped because we have to fix our schedule ahead of time and give the care home 2 days notice to cancel Okaasan's lunch. Hokkaido has had the worst summer of rain and wind...and yesterday was more of the same. Not good for car/wheelchair transfers.

But she enjoyed it. Quieter than she used to be. Had no idea now what a car seatbelt was for. But responded to our conversation. A bit messy eating her food and got a little mixed up with what sauces go with what foods - but SUCH a look of happiness when the food was placed in front of her :-)
A huge set lunch of sushi/steamed savory custard/tempura/rice/veg/soup...Dear Son had ordered himself a small lunch because he expected to eat her leftovers...there weren't any. Okaasan's appetite is as healthy as always.

And Dear Son stealthily got the necessary medicine hidden away in after meal coffee, which she happily drank - so there was no danger she would transform into an aggressive, howling banshee and eat a waitress.

The restaurant was full before 12 noon. We arrived at 11.20 am and it was already fulling up with other family groups - Take Your Aged to Lunch Day. Three other groups included a wheelchair user. A big family restaurant chain which has space for chairs and wide toilet spaces...also covered parking...

After we'd taken her back to the care home and sat back in the car again: we both exhaled and fist-bumped a la Obamas...a good day. To be repeated.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Another month, another (short) blog...

Still here..

Deep in a completly different waking/sleeping pattern as the FIFA World Cup reduces us in Asia to starting at 11 pm and 3 is HARD!!!

Japan did amazingly well and earned respect.
England is somehow amazing us all and got through to the semi finals.

Apologies if all of this means nothing to you :-)

Yes, she is fine. 
I haven't actually seen her for 2 weeks because I had a trip away to see a friend...and then there is football...and guests staying...and a tree in the garden infested with aphids holding a mass rally...

The care home said they had an extra place in another day of day service. Still in the same building, on the 5th floor, same staff, bigger group.
Singing, exercises, handicrafts, chat, and lunch....all very good.

Dear Son went on Friday to help Okaasan on her first day in the group. The staff were worried that she might panic because it is a bigger group, so they asked him to attend. But she was fine....friendly with people and no sign of aggression.

Really we are pleased she has settled into the routines of the care home. Talking to other residents and understanding that this place is her home.

While we focus on football, the lack of summer, and aphids.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018


Okaasan got wheels - or at least has realized she HAS wheels and how to use 'em.
DS showed her recently that you don't have to sit and wait for someone to push the wheelchair...and to our surprise, when we visited the home a few days later - there she was: wheeling!

She was away from the shared lounge. At the far end of the corridor, looking out of a window at the city.
Very happy to see us....and happy to show how she can use her hands to move the chair.

We've visited her twice recently: basically happy both times. Sing song voice and slightly loud, odd laughs and chat. But ok. The 2 nd time she seemed to be sad when we made moves to leave...and didn't want to be left back in the lounge....
But we wheeled her round the local streets and shared snacks and coffee.

The weather has been awful, so our plans for a car trip to have a family lunch got shelved. Too hard to move her from the home to the car and then car to a restaurant in wet/windy/cold weather. goes......this blog is really boring. But I guess someone somewhere might want to know how Okaasan and we are's a record of this family situation anyway....

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Smiles and giggles

That's what I think of now when I think about Okaasan: smiles and giggles.
She flaps her arms around and makes sounds of effort as they do in physical therapy sessions.
She talks cheerily about herself in the 3rd person.
She laughs and smiles.
Makes silly sounds.
Claps her hands.


In between she dozes in a wheelchair near a TV, wakes up and smiles at a familiar gaggle of old ladies around the table, waves at staff...smiles...

It is just amazing. And, thank GOD, good - how she has settled into life in a care home. This feisty, proud lady who fought off a lot of help and wanted to do things HER way.
People say to me - and I know what they mean: "Oh, I don't want to be in an institution, being cared for my strangers. I want to be independent".
But maybe, when you can't be independent, when your needs get real simple...maybe most of us can be surprisingly adaptable to the care situation?

This isn't my mother, of course. Would I feel the same if this was my Dad, my own mum?
If it were one of them flapping their arms and chitchatting like a child. Would I be able to accept that the parent-figure had gone and this elderly with a small world of self was in place?

These rambings are just to fill out some blog space, give you a reason to be here.
Cos nothing else very interesting is happening.
2 weeks ago Okaasan was sick after a lunch, but fine again by evening. Dear Son goes about twice a week. I go less. Much less. She walks with a frame, sometimes. We walk her round the local streets. We share can coffee and snacks in her room.

Dear Son has just finished a month of work with a special customer. The weather is good. We will have time to try and take her out in the car. That is our next plan.

Watch this space...patiently.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Mother's Day

A year ago....Okaasan was curled up on the carpet of her room at home, in great pain from a broken back bone...3 days after a fall in the kitchen...and still refusing to accept help. We were changing her soiled diapers and pajamas, putting newspapers and pet toilet sheets under her in a bid to keep it halfway clean....

And finally...on the Wednesday, after the Saturday fall, Dear Son agreed to call in professional help and she was taken off to after another.
A hospital for the broken bone, then a mental health hospital after the dementia went batshit, then a recovery hospital, then another recovery hospital....and finally a care home.

Yesterday we were at the care home for Mother's Day. A display of pink flowers in a basket, some drinks and snacks.

Okaasan was happily sitting with her gang of old ladies at the table near the TV and chatty and funny. She talks about herself in the 3rd person now: "Oh, grandma is happy/healthy/sad/able to walk/wants to go to the toilet etc"
very odd. Not sure why. And the singsong, happy voice...

Windy, cold day - so we did a quick trip to the care home main doors for fresh air, and then spent the rest of the hour chatting inside. We took in a photo album of Okaasan as a young mum long ago in the 1950s....holding (now dead) older brother, and now middle-aged, farty Dear Son.
"Who is this baby?" she kept asking on every page...and didn't really seem to remember anyone, or anywhere.

But happy. 

Our life is so much better, too. We have more freedom about eating and planning. My winter is FAR more relaxed. We have got used to being in the house...just the two of us.

And she has got used to life in a care home:
"Which floor do I live on? Is my home the door with the pink curtain?" she constantly asks. She became used to the routines, the baths, meal times and exercise  programs. She can stand better now. But gets tired quickly with any standing still or walking. 

What a difference a year makes!!

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The weeks slip by...

Blogger gone missing :-)

Just getting on with my life.
Oh? Partner's mother? Oh yes..she is in a care home. We visit once a week. He visits...actually. I go less.
My life.
It's cherry blossom season here - one week early - and JUST timed right the Golden Week of public holidays. I have a few classes on two days, but the rest of the time is free. 

DS and I went to visit Okaasan a week ago. Sunny day.
We took her out in the wheelchair to the local temple grounds, looked at early flowers and green trees. Kids playing. Felt the warm breeze on our faces. Back via the cafe in the convenience store for coffee and sweet sake drinks. She loved it.
She had been having a a hard time with constipation when we arrived at the care home and continued to chat away about how she felt like she was dieing in the toilet...all the time in the temple gardens.
But all was well. The care home staff said she has really settled into routines now. When we arrived she was sitting at the main table in the lounge - facing other residents, rather than the TV. Some kind of social interaction. Much more now.

DS has been again since and reported all was well. A bit of walking with the frame, chat, a wheelchair trip outside. We had hoped to try and do a short-trip in a car to a cafe or restaurant - but decided crowded public holiday time isn't the best idea.

I'm still doing hospital visits every week to my seriously-sick friend. Now she can't speak, and can hardly eat even sloppy foods. A lot of pain. Visits are so hard. I prattle on and on about stuff. Hold her hand. Cry. So, I let Okaasan visit slides a bit. I haven't seen her for 10 days.

Her two rooms in the house are slowly returning to us. Cleaning out her stuff still - this last week I managed to sell the Hawaiian dance dresses and a table. We had two Couch Surfing guests to stay in the actually very nice traditional Japanese room. I still have to go thru all Okaasan's stuff in the chest of drawers.

It's been almost a year since her fall, then hospitalisation...and a whole summer and autumn of physical and mental decline. Last year was so stressful.
Now seems so calm.

Oh! Before I forget.
A quick shout out for a book about living with early-onset dementia. Wendy Mitchell is a feisty campaigner in the UK. Her book is now out and has been a popular feature on British radio shows and TV.
Now published in America. I know some of you here are in America, so here is the cover and title. Wendy's blog Which Me Am I Today? 
Of course, early onset is a different situation from Okaasan, but Wendy articulates so well much of the experience of dementia. She is well worth reading, blog or book.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Settling in to a routine

Okaasan well - calm and happy in her life.
We visited yesterday - walking round the corridors with the walking frame, snacks and drinks in her room, family TV time, arm flapping

"You work as a ski instructor??" she quizzed Dear Son. I guess it IS a year since she has seen him coming home with skis and boots in the kitchen...the reality of his working life. So we did all the "rich Chinese visitors - teaching in English - season - Hokkaido snow business boom" conversations...that are all routine.

I washed one of her rose-pattern smocks the other day at home and discovered a train ticket and a receipt in the pocket. 
2016...September...she went downtown with this subway ticket...but then forgot she had bought it and probably confused the subway staff by producing her Elderly Travel Pass at the other end. And then she went to her favorite coffee shop at 4.58 pm and bought a matcha tea drink and a chestnut puree cake.

The old routines. Two years ago she was doing that alone.

Now she is mainly in a wheechair. The TV. Exercising. Waving and even TALKING a little to "friends" in the care home...and the staff. A few months ago she always looked a little suspicious and unfriendly when we turned her chair round from the communal TV and wheeled her out of the shared living room - as if she was unaware of all the other people in the room behind her and wondered who they were.

Now she waves and smiles at them. And they at us.

It's all great.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Doing our exercises

Okaasan, me and Dear Son are gathered round the table in her room - flapping our elbows up and down like Easter chicks and then throwing our hands out sideways with accompanying noises.

Family exercise!! And Okaasan is our leader.

She initiated the movement, which is obviously one of the exercises they do in day care, so of course we joined in and all laughed together as we did it. Then, went back to drinking and eating snacks.

It's a good sign. That she remembers, with enjoyment, the exercises from day care and does them unprompted.

All well in her world. Dear Son and I went to visit the other day and found Okaasan friendly and chatty. We pushed her wheelchair around a few blocks of city streets, did two toilet visits, snack time and chat. The care home staff reported that she was in a good place mentally this week - and after an hour or so we parked her back in front of the big TV and left her to relax.

It was a relief for us to have a happy visit. On the same afternoon we went to a hospital to visit a friend who has a terrible brain and muscle deterioration 9 weeks she has gone from a working, active adult to a shaking, pain-cramped invalid. Can hardly talk now, can't really feed herself is so hard to see her. We both came away from the visit shocked and sad. Recently I go to see her once a week...because it is a weekly worsening. I reckon Okaasan hardly realizes whether we visit or not, and our friend needs visits more.

Anyway. Okaasan good.
Next we are going to try and take her out in the car and do a short coffee or lunch visit somewhere....we hope....

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Togetherness anniversay

Cheers! Here's to us!
Okaasan and me celebrated...OMG...9 ? years since we moved in to live together? 
Facebook tells me that 2009 March we moved with Okaasan into this big old house in the suburbs of Sapporo and started life together. Before that for a few months she was living in a neighboring apartment after moving up from her home near Tokyo.
And I was frantically trying to cook multi-plated traditional foods in a tiny kitchen.

Sunday afternoon DS was away on spring ski work and I took Okaasan out in a wheelchair from the care home. Enough snow has melted that we could actually trundle a few blocks in sunshine and then go to a convenience store for coffee and rice dumplings filled with red bean jam. 

She was happy and mentally healthy. Chatty and friendly. Near us in the cafe were two bar workers and a gentleman friend...the care home is just near the night district of the city...and so a Spanish and a Mexican lady with a lifetime of experiences written all over their faces chatted to us and told Okaasan how lucky she was to have a great daughter-in-law.

Bar mamas tell it like it is. :-)


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Waiting for spring

We did a joint visit yesterday - kind of rare for us in winter.

Okaasan was asleep when we arrived. Sitting in her wheelchair, in front of the TV...dozing after a busy morning of physical therapy and then lunch.

She seemed happy enough, we chatted, wheeled the chair outside and around the corner to the lobby of a hotel...and then encouraged her to walk in the care home corridor with the walker.
She is fast walking now. But her whole body weight is forward, on the walking frame. She isn't standing upright at all.

But, the time - and season - is coming when we will be able to take her OUT of the care home for a visit to a different environment. A hotel lobby or convenience store for coffee, and maybe even a restaurant for a meal? If the toilets are accessible etc. If SHE doesn't panic in an unfamiliar place.

We will try. Days are getting brighter and warmer. Had a snow storm 2 days ago, which was a wonder for skiers - I'd given up my skiing for this season, but even I got out for just-one-more-day.

I also had to do another shopping trip for Okaasan. Bath towels and long-sleeved shirts. Hopefully what I bought will be ok. Dear Son passed along the care home request for clothing  to me - because OBVIOUSLY I am a WOMAN and can do shopping.....Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Don't get me started on the sexist assumptions in this....he is a Japanese male and lives in the stone age.

Anyway. Waiting for spring and a time to take Okaasan out in sunshine.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Writing failure....

Yup. I KNOW! Another month and no blogging.

Work has swept me along...and visiting my old student in hospital...and worrying about what to do about the stray cat near the house.
And end of winter funk? Blues? I had one really bad week where I could hardly get up energy to do anything, just about made it to work with a smile. Then a falling out with an old friend. It wasn't a good time.

Dear Son is now back home for a break between ski work - so at least I have a cook :-) Things are getting better.

DS went to see Okaasan in the care home and tried to get her signature on the mobile phone contract. Something about cancelling the contract for her phone.

He was shocked to realize that she couldn't sign her name. She could hold the pen, but however much he pointed and directed her hand to the place to sign - she was struggling. And struggling to write the correct characters.
"Oh, I became so stupid!" she said...and finally he gave up.

It was something she could do before. Make notes of things on TV and in magazines, write her name...and with prompting her address. And now...gone.....
A shock to him. And reinforces how hard it would ever be to get her, legally, to sell the house. He is waiting until end of March to get all the care costs for 3 clear months - then he can apply to the family court for status to be her representative etc. THEN finally...if that is approved...he can sell the family house near Tokyo. Could take months and months.

Anyway. Still waiting for spring. Huge snow storm for 2 days here. People died in their cars, including one rescue staff. Spring is coming strom.

And I am sitting here in my classroom on a Saturday morning with a hissy/angry stray cat in a cage on the carpet - under a blanket. I got a cage and advice from an NPO and last night we finally caught him. Today I am waiting for the go-ahead from the NPO to take him in to their vets for neutering and check, so we can decide what to do next.

He isn't at all friendly. I did exchange one Jackson Galaxy slooooow blink with him/her, but I wonder if he is feral, or a former pet who had to live wild for too long. I spotted him in January, living under a neighbor's house and my cats were yowling and chasing him. No neighbors know about him. I've fed him. But...not hopeful he will make a pet now.

Will keep you posted!!
Oh - and also about Okaasan....

Monday, 19 February 2018

I want to die...ho ho ho...

"I want to die!" Okaasan moaned. Then laughed. Then moaned.

Our latest, joint visit wasn't a happy one.

Okaasan was slumped in her wheelchair by the lounge TV. Here eyes all sleepy, her speech slurred. Her mood bad.

Even Dear Son, with his funny chat, couldn't change it. She wasn't in a good place.

We weren't either. We'd just heard that a friend/old student of mine has contracted a serious disease and we were on our way to see her. Okaasan's care home was nearby.

That morning Okaasan had, apparently, successfully gone to the 3rd floor and day care again. Physical exercise, handicrafts, chat and lunch. And now she was exhausted.
We took her back to her room and put her to bed. At home she slept a LOT. Hours and hours every day. In the care home - of course - they try to keep people up and in the public space, so they are easier to monitor and will be less trouble at night. Try to keep them in daylight/awake - nighttime/sleep pattern.

We felt stressed and sad.
Left Okaasan in bed and went to see our friend. Pretty grim and awful. She is my age. A super active, live-life-to-the-max person in work and play. Struck with CFD, the madcow-like disease. 3 weeks ago working...felt a bit strange - and now shaking and weak in a hospital bed. It was a hard visit.

Two hours later we went back to Okaasan.
She was up and back in the lounge with the TV - smiling, laughing - and happy again.
Dear Son was relieved. Me too. Sleep is good for all of us.

Yesterday I did the same 2 visits. My friend, and then Okaasan.
The hospital and care home are 10 mins drive apart. My friend was ok and enjoyed a Starbucks latte and I helped her eat lunch. Then Okaasan was watching Olympic ski aerial races and all smiley. I wheeled her to the care home front door for  some fresh air, took two elevator rides and went to the toilets.
And came home again.

Okaasan is settling in the care home life. She was even smiling and exchanging words with other residents yesterday, a good sign. Some of the residents on her floor are fully mobile and able to chat. Mostly women. If she WOULD open up and let conversation in, it is there for the having.

This week I have the accountant visit, a few more winter illuminations, a whole lot of work, the stray cat near the house to worry about (I'm now feeding it in the hope that I can catch her and get her help with a cat NPO)...oh...and snow clearing.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The bits of a person's life....

Two blogs in one weekend.
This'll be bumped up the Google logo-whatsits as an "Active" site, soon.
And then our Russian-bot friends will be shortly joining us!

Anyway. Anyhoo...I am watching Fargo the TV series and everyone in Minnesota says "Anyhoo".

I am sorting thru OKaasan's stuff again. Yet again. I certainly know her stuff better than she does. Sorting thru the clothes, the shoes, the Hawaiian dance silk flowers and skirts....oh the BAGS!!! the bags!!!!

Why? Cos I am masochist on a snowy public holiday morning? It's the choice between this, or my taxes.

Really, I need to make her two rooms less like a place where an old lady might pop back in at anytime, and more welcoming for guests this side of 80 years old.. Also - there is still stuff she is never, ever going to use/need again. After she dies we'll have to get rid of it. May as well have another thinning-out session now.

I did a good job. Three hours of sorting and ditching.
Now it is boiled down to:
- a few bits of jewelry
- the photo albums
- a few clothes/shoes - if we ever get her out of the carehome and into fresh air

I've got a few nice bags to pass on to the guy who auctions them online, bits and pieces I might use. Maybe important documents for Dear Son. LOTS of Hawaiian stuff for the recycle shop. Nice bits of material for a student who sews.

And 4 bags of trash.

An excellent morning's work.

You should do it. Yes - YOU!! When you become infirm or die, someone is going to paw thru your stuff and ditch a lot of it. Wouldn't you rather it be you doing the pawing?
I'm reminded of Dad and Jane's house full of stuff. Oh god - of all the stuff Dear Son and I have here.....

And in other news: yesterday I spent an hour with Okaasan. Basially drinking coffee and looking out the window, commenting on whether the snow was less or the sunshine was more. A toilet visit. And a failed attempt to get her to walk with the walking frame - she started to get bolshy with me. Her whole demeanor changed, from bright and chatty and happy to slumped and obstinate.
"No, I don't want to walk using that....I'm old, old people should take it easy..."

So I gave up. Wheeled her back to the community lounge where the staff appeared to think that a room of elderly wanted to watch Olympic snowboarding on the TV.
The black pants both seem to be fitting well - I am a successful personal shopper, and sorter outer.

Pretty achievement-filled weekend.

Oh! An Sapporo Snow Festival - look!!! Big event, I've been many times this year, Dear Son and I went to the kids play park together and I'm enjoying other local festivals too. The taxes can wait...

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Shopping service....

I hate shopping.
I hate shopping for clothes. For shoes.
I hate shopping for myself.
I hate shopping with Okaasan.
I hate shopping for Okaasan....without Okaasan.

I hate shopping.

Which is why last week I was buzzing round a shopping mall in a 45 min break from work - stressily buzzing shop to shop, alighting on racks of trousers. Homeing in on BLACK trousers and trying to find the combination of:

elastic waist - because I have no idea what size she is now
short legs - or a style that can be shortened by the sewing lady
NOT nasty polyester if at at all possible..

Shop to shop. Often I'd zoomed out again even before the startled staff had managed to come out from behind their counter to help me - my Xray vision teling me that they didn't have what I needed.

The care home told us recently that Okaasan needs at least one more pair of trousers, specially now they are trying to get her into the Day Care room and walking practice. They want to get her out of pajamas and into street clothes. Of course.

Hence the hated shopping task.

I took a very old pair of trousers with me to try and judge length, but it was pretty hard to shop for an absent someone. But not without moments of light relief: thanks to the shop assistant who responded to my "86 year old woman, in a care home, short, a bit fat, black, elastic waistband, wool?" request with padded and nightclub-shiny pants - the kind of thing rockstars wear for casual.

Um. No.
Massive Customer Need Match fail. If Okaasan was arriving at an airport to greet fans, or doing a radio interview those pants would have been fine.
However, like all dementia sufferers, she has bought the same clothes for years and years - same style and colors - and I think even she would notice that the rockstar pants were NOT hers.

Anyway..... located two pairs of pants within 25 minutes - which is about the maximum amount of time I can endure being in a clothes shop. Dear Son took them in on his next visit and we hope at least one of them will be ok.

Dear Son has been home a lot, a break in the ski work before Chinese New Year and thousands of families coming to holiday in Hokkaido. So he has been into the care home several times.

The Day Service has happened again. The other twice a week visits from staff will happen too. Okaasan basically ok - but...but....

The care staff report that one night she got out of bed herself and WALKED UNAIDED to the toilet!!!!! :-()
From there they suddenly heard her voice, calling out for assistance in getting up and out again. Luckily she was fine.
Not sure why the bed sensor didn't work.
We have kind of mixed feelings about this: good that she is able to walk unaided. Bad that she did this...when she isn't so strong and balanced.

I also have the old fears: if she gets too physically able, will her Dear Son start thinking she would be able to leave the care home and come back to live HERE???? With us??? Again??? No.................................

I don't want her back. I don't want her here again. At the moment I go whole days without even thinking about her. Yup. Bad, I know. But that's the truth.
We have decided to use the rooms in the house for various guests - friends and friends of friends...already had 3 people staying, which freaked out the cats, but is a good use of the space.

Anyway. I don't want her here again...

I think that isn't likely, it is more my fear really. The care home staff also report that Okaasan has been a little aggressive with another old I think Dear Son can see that her mental state is finely balanced, and beyond what we could cope with at home.
We talked about whether she will be ok to come with us in the car and drive to a restaurant for lunch sometime after ski season. Of course, not a certainty at the moment - we would have to be sure she was ok to get into a restaurant toilet, and whether she would be ok to visit a different place without getting frightened and stressed. None of that is a green light at the moment.

It would be awful if we took her to a noodle place for lunch one day and she started shouting at strangers and us, banging the table with her hands. So for now, the familiar 10th floor of the care home and visits to 3rd floor Day Care and 1st floor lobby are enough.

So. There we are. That's our state early-February.

Oh God. I hate shopping.
I will need a few months to recover from that before I will be able to venture near clothes racks and price tags again.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Blogging while driunk

Probably shouldn't.

But will.

Dear Son went last week to accompany Okaasan to the 3rd floor of the care home and the day center room with its physical training area, handicrafts and lunch...

And. You know what?

She was fine!

A different person. Apparently. The staff were surprised. She smiled and laughed and enjoyed it. He (says) he kept a distance and just observed, but she was fine....and now they are making plans for her to go every week - AND to have other 20-minute sessions with visiting staff too.

Amazing. And a relief.

Was it because he was there? Or was it just that now she is more settled into the new routines of the care home - more than in the first few weeks? Or the medicines are at regular times, so her overall mood is better?

Don't know.
 But good.

Going back to drinking now. Had a shitty day at work. Got wine. And a Couch Surfer came with British chocolates. And one cat has disappeared under a neighbohhd house in hot pursuit of a stray.

so thats me saturday night.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Oh! There you are...

First visit to Okaasan for 2018 - slightly guilty about that.
But she, of course, is fine. Has no concept of time, so when I pull up a chair and sit beside her as she watches TV in the care home lounge - she has no idea how long or short I've been away. Just happy to see me.

I spent an hour with her: drinking coffee, eating snacks, watching Tv, wheeling her to the 1st floor and a 1 minute trip beyond the doors into cold winter sunshine, then sitting at another window looking at the city view and commenting on snow and sunshine. A toilet visit in the wheelchair.

She was mainly happy and laughing. Easy to joke with. I noticed she tried to stand up more than before - good...and worrying...because if she tries that when nobody is watching and isn't so strong, and falls....

Next week Dear Son will accompany her to the physical training session and try to make THAT a positive place.

But for now I am satisfied that she is ok. The home is good enough - more mental stimulation would be better, more physical activity...but it is what it is. A safe place, with a Tv, meals, supervised toilet visits. It's a small world, but protected. If I were a non-working woman and were home all day to constantly check on her then she could live with us - but not now.

And still we wait to hear WHAT we are going to do with her old rooms at home. The cats, occasional guests, drying is wasted space. The house owners are dragging their feet on our request to move my English school to the house. I need to know soon.....March is the time when things end and change happens in Japan.

Cross fingers for day care success.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Happy mode...and waiting.

Dear Son has been to the care home several times and reports Okaasan seems happy and settled into her room and the lounge on the 10th floor. All well.
Next week he will go and join Okaasan as the staff try to take her to the 3rd floor again for day service - walking and activities etc. Hoping that she will be more accepting this time of a new place, because he is with her.

It's sad though - only 2 months ago at the hospital she enjoyed it when we took her in the wheelchair to other floors, other windows and other views. I guess her necessary-world is getting smaller? Makes me wonder if we will actually be able to do the little trips out in the car to lunches etc that we plan for spring....

Dear Son gets Okaasan to walk a bit when he visits. Gets her standing and leaning on the walking frame - to exercise up and down the 10th floor corridors. He says she is ok, but too fast - obviously not understanding the relationship between her power and the wheels and the inherent danger. The 10th floor staff don't walk with her like this - it isn't part of their service - and until she can use this frame safely on her own she is still in the wheelchair....which she ALSO doesn't use herself. She waits for someone to push her.....
He says that when he visits he pushes her wheelchair just outside the care home doors into sunshine - which she enjoys. And then back to the 10th floor.

Hopefully Jan 24th day service visit will be a success.

Me? I haven't actually seen Okaasan since December 31st!!!! Which is why this blog has been silent.

The first few days of New Year I was busy being selfish and enjoying hours and hours of British TV dramas on Netflix. I planned to go to Okaasan. There was skiing and dinner and lunches with friends...
Then I got influenza....3 days of bed and blurrr....followed by a week of coughing and tiredness.
And then work started again.
So. Those are my excuses! I will go this weekend...I have to. Cos I just wrote it here.

On into 2018.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

New Year ....

Happy New Year dear readers!

Me at a ski resort on January annual ski-in-the-new-year trip.

So. This New Year I had none of the obligations to do anything about Japanese traditions and customs...none of the special food shopping/prepping/cooking or serving. No need to take Okaasan for walks round supermarkets and stop her buying expensive ingredients for meals she had long forgotten how to make.

This time I accepted a friend's offer for a Dec. 31st dinner in her home - ironically and usefully just two blocks away from the care home.
So I arrived at the care home at 5 pm just as all the residents were tucking into a special dinner of celebration foods in the lounge, with the TV showing old fashioned songs performed by ladies in kimono and men with hair gel.
Okaasan was in good form - telling me about the foods, about the decorations...laughing about the TV. The staff gave her the after dinner coffee, which is laced with her dementia medicines, and she drank it happily.

I stayed an hour and then headed off to my New Year at my friend's home.
What a difference from years past!


The floor manager mentioned to me something about Okaasan not being so great about going to Day Service (on another floor of the same building), something about her shouting and not feeling happy in a new place.

So, when Dear Son came home for 2 days from ski work - he went to see Okaasan. Found her happy enough - but bizarrely singing an old Tokyo summer festival song, along with the hand movements...continuously...

And he talked to the manager about the Day Service problems.

Seems, very disappointingly, that Okaasan only went to day Service ONCE. She got very agressive and shouted at people, so they took her back to her residential floor and then DIDN'T TRY AGAIN.
That is bloody amazing. And ridiculous.
One time? And they gave up?
And didn't discuss this with us? (To be fair, there was some mix up about my correct phone number)...but even so.
Day Service was meant to be a big plus in Okaasan's life in this care home - the chance to get her leg muscles strong enough by walking practice, and have more one-on-one communication and activity, such as handicrafts.
And they gave up after one bad experience?

We're not happy.
This week is still holiday in week Dear Son will go to the home and join Okaasan in the Day Service room, hoping to give her a positive feeling about it. At the last hospital she was in, September to December - the daily physical training session was something she enjoyed and we want that for her again.

Very disappointing. Maybe the staff were busy with the crisis about the norovirus outbreak etc, and they had my phone number wrong...but...but...

So. Still hoping that we have made a good decision about this place...