2020: The Year in Review

So 2020 is almost over with, thank goodness! Not that it was a totally bad year for me personally, but I really hope 2021 is better for the world at large.

I started the year hoping to settle in at the care facility. I did, but it did take some more accommodating from the staff than I’d expected they would be willing to. In July, for this reason, I was granted the highest care profile for blind people (I had the second-highest until then). I felt very mixed emotions about it. I mean, even though I had originally asked my support coordinator to look at that care profile when applying for my long-term care funding, I do remember her saying I would definitely not qualify. It turned out that I did.

Then in November, after I’d been in some major crises, the staff suggested I sign an official request for extra care hours. I just heard this morning that it got approved. Next week, the staff and manager are going to discuss how to use the extra care and whether new staff will need to be hired.

I hoped to settle in at the day center. That didn’t work out, as the center closed down due to COVID in mid-March. It has since reopened to some of the homes, where clients can utilize a specific room for their home. However, many clients in my home fare better now that we get day activities from the home.

COVID also had its consequences for my marriage. I had just been trying to learn to use public transportation, like I’d hoped I could, when COVID hit the Netherlands and care facilities were closed to visitors. Even though we’re in a second lockdown now, my facility does allow visitors this time around. However, my husband and I agreed it wouldn’t be sensible for me to use public transportation as of now.

As a result of the first lockdown, I didn’t see my husband at all for March, April and most of May. Thankfully, our marriage survived.

Looking back at my hopes for 2020, I see I did pretty well considering the circumstances. I mean, I didn’t settle in at the day center or learn to use public transportation, but like I said above, that’s to blame on COVID.

Health-wise, I didn’t lose weight, but I am much more active now than I was in 2019 and I do eat okay too. I could certainly do better, like I tried for some weeks in late October and early November. I’ll need to activate my water reminder app again too.

With respect to my mental health, I certainly took good care of that. I had had it as a secret wish to lower my Abilify dose, but I never did. However, that’s okay considering I wasn’t doing as great mentally as I expected to be. I hope I did finally find a PRN medication that helps me though.

I also blogged much more regularly in 2020 than in 2019. I didn’t do any other writing projects, mostly because I feel too inadequate.

Lastly, that self-care excuse of a goal I definitely did attain. I love love love essential oils.

How was your 2020?

Sunday Poser: Changes for 2021

Today’s post is going to be a relatively quick one. I hardly slept at all last night and really need to rest, but I’d also like to write something to wind down for the night. I’m joining Sadje’s Sunday Poser. The question is about the changes you wish to see in 2021. I traditionally write a post of personal hopes for the new year in early January, so I won’t make this too personal.

Like Sadje, I agree that I totally wish this COVID-19 crisis will end. I really hope the vaccine will be distributed fast. I’ve already heard that the staff of care facilities may get the vaccine in late January here. That being said, I doubt things will move as quickly as it looks now, because we have a rather slow-thinking health minister.

We’re due to have a national election here in the Netherlands in March. I really hope the right won’t win more seats in the Lower House than they have now, but I must say I don’t hope for a huge move to the left either. In this sense, I don’t hope much will change, although my leftist conscience does tell me I need to object to Mark Rutte getting yet another term as prime minister. My centrist intellect says he isn’t so bad after all.

Honestly, of course, I do think a lot needs to change on a larger scale. We need to truly show our stewardship towards the planet and we need to distribute wealth and health more evenly. That does make me worried for my own sake though, as I know I’m relatively healthy and wealthy considering the world at large. I shouldn’t be so selfish though.

Lastly, like Sadje, I definitely hope people become less divisive and extremist in their encounters with others. If COVID taught the world one thing, it should’ve been that it can affect us all.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (December 13, 2020)

Hi everyone on this chilly, foggy but thankfully not rainy Sunday. I just had my Sunday evening soft drink, but if you’d like a coffee, who am I to object? It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote a post for #WeekendCoffeeShare, but today, I’m joining in again.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the past week was so much better than I’d expected. The reason is last week Sunday I landed in a crisis and I fully expected to be unstable all week. Thankfully I was okay early in the week and the last bit of the week was even good.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I was pretty active this past week. I got in nearly 70K steps this week, even though I only reached my step goal of 10K four times.

If we were having coffee, I’d share how grateful I am that COVID-19 hasn’t struck at our care home as of yet. Like I said yesterday, a fellow client was tested for it, but thankfully he was negative.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about my recent spiritual growth. I can’t remember whether I said this in my previous coffee share posts, but I’m finally becoming a Christ follower. I have been reading the Bible everyday this week, although I’m having to take a break from writing this post to actually do it in YouVersion. I do still sometimes squeeze in Bible reading inbetween other activities. I really need to change this. Let’s hope this post is a way to keep me accountable.

I’ve also been praying and meditating on God’s word more. Especially wen we had the COVID scare at my home, I prayed for health for this client.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my week-end was okay despite my not having gone to my and my husband’s home in Lobith. The reason for not going was the fact that, by the time we got the news of the negative COVID test for my fellow client, my husband couldn’t make it here anymore. I did enjoy some relaxed time in my room.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share about all the great essential oil blends I’ve discovered lately. I’ve discovered that I don’t like geranium EO, but there are still quite a few blends I hadn’t tried yet that don’t contain that.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (December 12, 2020)

Hi all on this rainy Saturday. I am feeling so grateful for a lot of things right now. Let me share! I was going to be linking up with Ten Things of Thankful, but then I saw the linky isn’t up this week. This isn’t holding me back though.

1. I am grateful for the staff who supported me through my crisis on Sunday.

2. I am grateful for my physical health. This should always be something I’m grateful for, but I’m specifically listing it today.

3. I am grateful a fellow client who had cold symptoms tested negative for COVID. I was very worried already when I found out he was in isolation yesterday. The staff weren’t notified of his negative test results until mid-afternoon today.

4. I am so grateful the above means we aren’t in isolation at our care home as of yet. This means that my appointments with mental health for the coming weeks can go forward (unless I or a fellow client develops symptoms suggestive of COVID, of course).

5. I am grateful for my husband, as always. We have been talking more than we used to over the past week and that’s truly a blessing.

6. I am grateful to be able to read the Bible on my phone. I now have a six-day streak on YouVersion and am hoping to get to my first perfect week tomorrow.

7. I am grateful to have found and consistently listened to First United Methodist Church of Austin’s sermons.

8. I am grateful there still was a meal I liked in the freezer this evening. I am a rather picky eater and I didn’t like what I had for dinner this evening. Then I microwaved another meal we had in the freezer, but the rice got all weird from microwaving it straight from the freezer or something. I feel pretty bad for having thrown out two meals to finally accept a third one, but well, I can’t change it now. All I can do is try to train myself to be a less picky eater in the future.

9. I am grateful for paracetamol. My feet cramped a little (well, a lot) this evening, but thankfully the pain is pretty mild now that I took some paracetamol.

10. I am grateful for the sounds of nature CD I listened to in the sensory room this evening.

So what are you grateful for?

The Lockdown Tag

I don’t think anyone specifically tagged me for this tag, but I saw it on a number of other blogs. The idea is to answer a number of questions about life in lockdown. We just went into “partial lockdown” again, or really are going tonight, but the prime minister delivered the news yesterday evening. I think it’s about time I write about life in lockdown again.

1. Overall, how are you handling the quarantine?
I’m hanging in there. Now that at least some restrictions have been going on for over half a year, I’m coping less well than at the beginning of the lockdown.

2. Have you violated any of the restrictions? If yes, what rule(s) did you break?
Honestly, yes. When the no-visitors policy in care homes was lifted last May, we were expected to still keep our distance from visitors and avoid physical contact. Well, I did at first try, but I just couldn’t resist hugging my husband.

3. What viral recipes have you tried during the lockdown?
I didn’t even know that this is a thing. I haven’t really tried any new recipes, honestly.

4. What activities have you missed the most during quarantine?
At first, of course, I missed seeing my husband altogether, as it wasn’t allowed at all. Now that we’re allowed visitors again, I miss going places, like restaurants, with my husband. Restaurants are closed again for two weeks at least from tonight on, but even when they were still open, I wouldn’t take the risk.

5. Do you wear a mask when you leave the house?
Uhm, no. I don’t travel by public transportation at all or go to public places much. Until yesterday’s press conference, the government didn’t want to mandate mask-wearing except on public transportation, but only “strongly advised” it in public places like stores. As of tonight, a mask will be required in all public places and also outside of classes in secondary and tertiary education. It’s not required when going for walks outdoors. I do think that, when my mother-in-law visits tomorrow, I’m going to wear a mask to protect her, as she’s generally very careful and I’m not.

6. Are you an essential worker? If yes, what is your job title?
No. I don’t work. Thankfully, my staff are classed as essential workers and we didn’t get holiday or weekend staffing levels so far, which I was worried about at first.

7. How do you exercise during the lockdown?
I go for walks, go on the elliptical, do weight training and yoga. Basically, all my usual exercise activities. I was on the waiting list to go swimming before lockdown and had considerd going to a gym too. Swimming was canceled here at the facility and, though gyms are still open, I don’t want to take the risk.

8. Have you subscribed to any new subscription services since the lockdown started?
No. I did briefly restart my Netflix subscription, but canceled it again after a month. I much prefer reading to watching.

9. What did/does your daily schedule look like before the pandemic started?
I’m assuming the question is meant to ask how our schedules differ now that we’re in lockdown, because of course the pandemic is raging so there’s no present tense “does” before the pandemic. Anyway, before the pandemic I would go to the day center at around 9:30AM and stay there until 4PM. Now that we’re provided day activities in the home, I usually don’t start them until 10AM at least. I also take more breaks than I used to. I much prefer the current arrangement.

10. Do you think that the pandemic is getting better or worse?
Worse. It’s all pretty awful. I really hope they’ll find a vaccine soon.

11. What have you learnt/became grateful for during the lockdown?
I’ve become more appreciative in general. For example, I’m grateful for my health, my ability to still go outside for walks, being able to see my husband… lots of things!

12. How do you think the world should learn from this pandemic so that things are better in the future?
I think in general people have learned to be more health conscious. Other than that, I don’t think the pandemic taught us any big lesson or whatever. Of course, I could get all fluffy about people possibly being kinder and more grateful towards each other and the planet, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

I’m not tagging anyone, but if you want to do this tag, feel free to.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 27, 2020)

It’s pretty late in the evening already and I had a few gulps of wine. That isn’t a wise idea, as I normally literally never drink. It was one of my staff’s leaving party and the other staff dared me to drink to it. I only had one gulp of red wine and one gulp of white wine, but I was definitely feeling the effect. Call it placebo, I don’t care.

I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The staff who is retiring took the remaining wine home with her, so we don’t have that now. We do have several types of soft drinks and a type of orange-peach juice. We also, of course, have coffee or tea. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, thankfully, all clients who had cold symptoms last week, tested negative for coronavirus and are on the mend now. I am still a bit sniffy but other than that feel fine.

If we were having coffee, I would share that now, unfortunately, my husband is sick. For this reason, I couldn’t see him over this week-end again. I hope he’s better by next week, both for his sake and mine.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I made an experimental soap yesterday. I made it with real coffee grounds and espresso fragrance oil. I was planning on making a soap for the staff who’s retiring, but didn’t have time to make one for myself to try out first. Here’s hoping the staff will like it.

If we were having coffee, I would then go on and on about my new essential oil diffuser and my new oils to go in it. I had a blend I made myself in it yesterday, which I call lime love. It uses lime, lavender and ylang ylang essential oils.

If we were having coffee, I would also share how happy I am with the weighted blanket I’m allowed to try out for two weeks. Last night, I didn’t sleep well due to once again hyperfocusing on a project – my umpteenth attempt at blogging in Dutch. However, I did feel more rested than usual when I woke up.

Lastly, if we were having coffee, I wouldn’t have coffee at all, as I’m wanting to go to bed soon. I love lying in bed with my essential oil diffuser on with a relaxing blend in it, some soothing music in the background and my weighted blanket over me.

What’s been going on in your life lately?

Negative

This is probably going to be a quick post. Like I said on Sunday, I was interrupted while blogging by a staff to tell me I and all other clients with cold symptoms were from then on in room-based isolation. We would be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Thankfully, yesterday morning, the facility’s nurse came to test us. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was okay. I am however pleased to inform you that I, as well as all other clients, tested negative for coronavirus!!!

It was no fun being in room-based isolation. The hardest part, for me, was the fact that staff had to go to each client’s room for individual support rather than combining care activities, so there was effectively less time for each of us. The staff who had come to inform me of the isolation, said I could press the call button as often as needed. Well, press the call button I could, but that didn’t guarantee a staff would have time to come.

Yesterday, I landed in a rather bad crisis. Initially, I had been really upset and crying and screaming. Then one staff came to inform me that she wasn’t wearing protective clothes and the staff who was, would come “in a while”. That’s a rather unclear comment to make to an autistic person. I freaked out and became destructive.

For those asking why that staff wasn’t wearing protective clothes, staff need to change into different protective clothing when visiting each person suspected of coronavirus separately. They also need to leave the protective clothing at the client’s doorstep. After all, suppose my snot gets onto the staff’s protective clothing and they then go help someone who isn’t showing symptoms. Then that person runs extra risk of contracting COVID-19. You see, over half of the clients did not show symptoms.

Thankfully, the staff in protective clothing came about ten minutes later. She was able to comfort me a little.

Today at around 2:15PM, I heard the day activities staff tell another symptomatic client that he was free to leave his room. I thought I heard her say that “all is well again” or something like that, but I didn’t dare hope I was negative too. Well, I was! The first thing the staff asked when telling me everyone had tested negative, was whether I wanted to go for a walk. Of course I did.

We also had French fries at the facility’s cost to celebrate the good outcome. I was almost writing “positive”. It’s a positive outcome indeed that everyone was negative!

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 20, 2020)

It’s Sunday and I want to tell you more about my life right now. For this reason, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The image above is taken on a bridge over the local channel. I’m not there right now and in fact did not go out for a walk today at all. I did drink coffee. And pure green tea – not the matcha powder type. If you want any, you can grab some. There’s also cold water in the fridge. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that it was my and my husband’s ninth wedding anniversary yesterday. I wasn’t able to visit him though, because I have a cold. At first I wasn’t sure whether just a cold means I need to stay home, but my husband sent me the COVID-19 FAQ from the health authorities that said I had to. Strangely, a staff who has a cold slightly milder than mine, was working this morning anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did send my husband a card with a photo of me in it. He appreciated it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I just got interrupted while writing this post by a staff to tell me several other clients show cold symptoms. I already knew this, but it means we’re from now on being cared for in our rooms. We’ll get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, maybe today but I don’t think so.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I am loving learning more about essential oils and soap making. I downloaded three books on the topic of essential oils from Bookshare yesterday. Of course, since I don’t have a microwave or stove in my room, I won’t be able to make soap while we’re still being isolated. However, I do have my essential oil diffuser and oils here, so I can make my own diffuser blends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I requested my staff bring me some coffee cups so that I can make Senseo coffee in my room. I mean, staff do come here to deliver our meals and help us whenever we need it, but they do need to wear protective clothing when entering our rooms. I think that’d be a bit annoying for them if they had to bring me coffee.

What else is new? A lot really, but all seems futile now that we’re in room quarantine. For those who pray or send positive vibes, do get those prayers/healing vibes/etc. coming our way.

What have you been up to lately?

Pandemic Positives

Today, Fandango asks in his weekly provocative question wehther the need to quarantine as a result of COVID-19 has made you a better person.

Lockdown here started in the middle of March with restaurants acutely closing their doors, school closures and, a week later, a no-visitors policy in nursing homes and care facilities. I couldn’t see my husband for nearly three months. Then we could see each other, but we had to keep our distance as much as possible.

Life more or less returned to some sembleance of normal at the end of June. Still, people are scared. I, not so much, though I do take COVID-19 seriously. There are still certain restrictions, most of which don’t affect me too much.

The main thing affecting me was not being able to see my husband. This certainly made me appreciate our very special relationship even more than I appreciated it already. I mean, I chose to go into long-term care last year, of course not knowing that this would mean not seeing my husband for a few months. However, I doubt most marriages would survive even that decision, let alone the consequences. I attribute the success of our marriage mostly to my husband’s everlasting love, but I do deserve some credit for it too.

In general, too, the pandemic has made me more appreciative of what I do have. I am physically healthy and so are my loved ones. In April, a man at the home below me died of coronavirus. Though he was in his 70s, this shocked me a little. My father is in his 70s too, so I’m all the more grateful to still have him.

Other than gratitude, I think the pandemic taught me some level of creativity. Before the lockdown, I found it hard to connect to my husband when I didn’t see him. Now we call each other multiple times a week and text multiple times a day. Of course, I could’ve done that before too, but out of need grew the solution.

I also read somewhere that some people are particularly happier now than they were before the pandemic. I have to say so am I. The reasons may not be related to the pandemic at all, as I’ve also finally settled into the care facility and such.

In general though, I think the pandemic has had and continues to have negative effects on the world, of course. However, if it affected me personally at all, it’s positively. By this I don’t mean my economic, social or health status, of course. Though I’m still financially secure and healthy, no-one knows whether this will remain this way given the huge economic costs of the pandemic. I’ve just become a more positive (or should I say less negative?) person.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 6, 2020)

Welcome to another Sunday and another edition of my #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s past 8PM here, so I’ve had all my coffee for today. Still, if you’d like a virtual cuppa, that’s fine with me. We also have two flavors of Crystal Clear soft drink, neither of which I like, in the fridge, as well as my favorite Dubbelfrisss: apple and peach. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m still a bit tired. Like I said on Friday, I was sick on Thursday with diarrhea, nausea and a low-grade fever. Thankfully, the fever was gone by Thursday evening and so far hasn’t returned (yes, I did get it checked). However, I’m still very tired. I wasn’t yesterday. It could be a delayed case of sleep deprivation, as Friday night I got only a few hours of sleep.

If we were having coffee, I would share that yesterday, we had another online meeting of the cerebral palsy charity’s chapter in my province. It wasn’t as eye-opening as the one we had in July, but it definitely was interesting. We discussed whether COVID-19 has a more severe impact on CP folk than on the general population – the consensus was that, unless you have co-occurring breathing issues, it doesn’t. Then we discussed fear of suffocating and the reasons for our CP. Some of the participants were oxygen-deprived at birth. Some were not (like me) and some had no idea. From there, we discussed whether it’s useful to have access to your birth-related medical information, since CP occurs before, during or shortly after birth. Overall, I loved connecting to other people. In October, the CP charity will organize some online activities in place of the CP day that would’ve taken place on October 31 if not for the coronavirus crisis.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I miss my husband. Like I said on Friday, he couldn’t take the risk of coming by. I really hope we’ll be able to see each other next week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there were quite a few new staff, student staff and people orienting at becoming staff at my home this past week. It was a little chaotic sometimes, because the staff need to explain a lot to these new people.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I had ice cream for dessert yesterday and today. There was hardly any custard and no flavored yoghurt, so I used that as an excuse. I could’ve eaten plain yoghurt of course, but didn’t. I loved the ice cream!

What’s been going on in your life?