Self-Care During These Weird Times

Okay, it’s been quite the week. Here in the Netherlands, the government are discussing curfews and other stricter lockdown measures and even without those, the current lockdown will last till at least February 9. I’ve even heard some pandemic management gurus say the measures need to be in effect till the summer. Ouch.

Still, I am very happy that I live in a currently stable democracy like the Netherlands. As much can’t be said of the United States. I really wonder how all of my American friends keep their spirits up. Today, for Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop, I’m sharing some ways I take care of myself.

1. Prayer and Bible reading. As my husband says, in unprecedented times, people turn to religion. Now he predicts worse times are still to come for us, although we can never be sure. It’s important to know our life’s purpose if we want to keep afloat. For me that purpose is Jesus.

I have almost a 40-day Bible reading streak on the YouVersion app. I also make sure I pray everyday.

2. Avoiding the news. I know some people have come to watch more TV over the past ten months or so, but I experience the opposite. I look up an overview of what’s been said after each prime minister’s speech. Other than that, I only briefly skim through the news.

3. Doing things I enjoy. I try to write everyday, even if it’s not on this blog. I also look into developing my creative side in other areas, such as soap and bath and body product making. Today I made my first bath bomb in nearly a year. I also try to walk everyday. In this respect, the pandemic certainly helped, because now that the day center is closed, I can go on more regular walks.

4. Relaxation. When life gets to me, I try to relax. I lie under my weighted blanket, turn on a nice playlist on Spotify and diffuse some essential oil in my diffuser.

5. Gratitude. My husband doesn’t want to scare me when he says things may get worse, but he’s right. Most of us in the developed world still have food and shelter. Most of us in Europe have access to health care. Here in the Netherlands, we have a government that tries its best to care for the people. I have Internet access or I wouldn’t be writing this post. Things may get worse, but right now, they are still pretty much okay. I at least can handle the current situation.

What do you do to stay motivated during these weird times?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Also linking up with Grace at Home.

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?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (December 20, 2020)

Hi #WeekendCoffeeShare people, and everyone else too of course! Today is a cloudy, relatively mild day. I, as usual, just had my last drink for the day – just water today. If you’d like a cup of coffee, that’s fine by me though. Regardless, let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you my sister and her little family visited me on Monday. They were originally supposed to visit yesterday, but the prime minister was expected to announce a strict lockdown Monday evening. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. While all non-essential stores are closed, people are still allowed to leave their house and visit others. The care agency pandemic team also didn’t close my care facility.

The family consists of my sister, her husband and their 15-month-old daughter Janneke. Janneke was really cute. She isn’t walking or standing yet, but she does crawl around a lot. She can also say some words and is almost completely potty trained. My sister is really proud of her for that last thing.

We got takeout pizza for us adults and a bit of French fries for Janneke. I loved my salami pizza.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I had the first “therapy” appt with my nurse practitioner on Thursday. It didn’t really go well. Not that I’d expected it to, but I had hoped for a little less trivializing and rationalizing of my symptoms from both our sides. I know, we will maintain the status quo on the nature of my insiders until or unless I ever decide to get an assessment. It is pretty likely my nurse practitioner doesn’t even think I need one. After all, he said that considering my insiders to be an extreme form of doubt is a little off, but there’s no need to compare my symptoms to anything anyone else experiences. Well, honestly, yes, there is or we won’t be knowing where we’re headed at all. I think though that most of us prefer not having a clue what we’re doing to being told we’re all products of an attention-seeking, manipulative imagination.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I went to Lobith yesterday. I had some conflicting feelings about it, but I was happy to see my husband. It was good. My husband and I talked faith extensively and he encouraged me to grow in my belief. My husband knows far more about the Bible than I do and he explained some about how to interpret various passages.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (December 19, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone! This isn’t going to be a very long post I think, as I’m in Lobith and don’t have my computer with me. For this reason, typing is a little hard. I am going to try to write a gratitude list anyway. I think Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) is back, so I’m participating in that.

1. I am grateful for my external keyboard. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to type this post at all. It may not be as convenient as my laptop, but it’ll do.

2. I am grateful I can still go to my husband’s and my house in LObith despite the lockdown. The “strict” lockdown was announced Monday evening but it hardly has any consequences for me. After all, i didn’t go to stores or the like at all.

3. I am grateful my sister and her family visited me on Monday. They were afraid the lockdown would apply to care facilities too, so they visited me before it was announced.

4. I am grateful to have seen my 15-month-old niece. I hadn’t seen her (or my sister for that matter) in over a year.

5. I am grateful we could get pizza takeout when my sister visited.

6. I am grateful for hamburgers. We cooked those at day activities on Wednesday.

7. I am grateful I was able to E-mail my nurse practitioner. I had an appt with him on Thursday, which didn’t go too well. I am grateful I was able to explain why I had negative feelings about it.

8. I am grateful for myhusband’s encouragement. He was very firm with me after my appt with my nurse practitioner, but I am so glad he helped me get my positive mojo back.

9. I am grateful for chocolate. My husband and I paid a quick visit to my in-laws on the way to Lobith and they had some. Of course, I am also grateful to have seen the in-laws themselves.

10. I am grateful for my ability to talk faith with my husband. Today, he was able to answer some of my questions that have led me to doubt my faith.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 8, 2020)

Hi all on this sunny Sunday! Okay, it’s past 9PM here and the sun has set already, but it was sunny during the day. I should really have taken a picture.

I just had my last drink for the day. However, the beauty of virtual coffee shares is that people can join in whenever they want. So grab a cup of coffee, green tea or water. I’m pretty sure there are also soft drinks in the fridge, but I rarely drink those now. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up. As usual, I am linking up with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this whole week, the weather has been beautiful. It was a little chilly some days, but not as cold as you might expect in November. In fact, today, I even took a walk with my husband without my coat on. I did of course wear a fleece vest. It was sunny and almost warm.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I canceled my sister’s visit for this week too. The reason this time is a combination of the stricter COVID-19 management rules and my husband wanting to celebrate his birthday with me this week-end. With respect to the former, for example, my sister could be visiting with her husband and daughter, but three adults are not allowed together outside. This would mean my brother-in-law wouldn’t be able to go on walks with me and my sister. As if the risk of contracting COVID is higher outside than inside.

Also, I wouldn’t be allowed to go to my husband’s after they visited. Or maybe strictly speaking I could, but it’d be against the spirit of the lockdown. My husband felt pressured by me to let my sister and family visit, but eventually it became clear he’d really like to have me over for the week-end to celebrate his birthday. His birthday is on the 12th, by the way. So since my husband’s birthday is more important than a random visit from my family, we’re going to reschedule that sometime after the worst of the lockdown has ended.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I gave my husband an Airfryer for his birthday. He made us both thick fries in it yesterday. Even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t salt mine, or at least not as much as I’d have done, they were still delicious. My husband joked that we’d have vegan fries (duh!) but to make up for it, we would eat real hamburgers. They were great too.

If we were having coffee, lastly, I would tell you that I was in a bit of a crisis this evening again. I got majorly triggered by a staff raising her voice as she commanded me to go to my room. She had intended for me to seek the quiet of my room, because I was rapidly becoming overloaded with all that was going on with the other clients. Her wording that I’m not the only one (I’m pretty sure she didn’t say it that way, but that’s how I interpreted it) triggered me to feel that I wasn’t allowed to feel the way I did and was attention-seeking. This then quickly spiraled out of control. Thankfully in the end, I was able to talk it through with the staff and also write down my feelings. I did take a PRN lorazepam, but that’s totally okay.

What’s been going on with you lately?

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.

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.

COVID-19 Reality Check: It’s Still Not Over

So like I said earlier today, I had a low-grade fever yesterday. I didn’t think much of it. I guess the reality that COVID-19 is far from over yet, hasn’t hit home yet. My husband was immediately worried. I may’ve worried him too much by my wording. I mean, there’s a word for a low-grade fever that I should have used, but I said I had a slight fever instead.

I asked my husband whether he could come tomorrow, now that I no longer have a fever. He said no way and got a little annoyed with me for even raising the issue again. He said if I do have COVID-19 and infect him and then his father, my father-in-law could die. Or if I do develop symptoms again when at my husband’s and my house in Lobith, I won’t be allowed to come back to the care facility. I understand, but it’s hard.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic having hit the Netherlands, I was somewhat optimistic about its progress. I mean, I predicted that, by September 2020, vacations would still be discouraged but the virus would pretty much have left anyway. It hasn’t.

Then in mid-May, life more or less went back to normal within the care facility for me. At the end of June, the restrictions on visitors were practically lifted altogether. I mean, I’m supposed to call the facility after having been in Lobith to make sure I’m still symptom-free and so is the care home, but I don’t.

In early August, my mother-in-law came by and we went to sit outside of a restaurant for a cup of coffee. No-one asked for our contact details or checked that we met the 1.5m distance requirement. I later heard the rules were made stricter again at the end of that week, but I still am not seeing much of a difference.

My care facility went mostly back to normal over the summer. I mean, the home a floor below me got infected with COVID-19 in late March. After that, staff were not allowed to work on multiple units and the night staff were to keep their distance as much as possible. After all other homes stayed clear, staff are now allowed to work on multiple units again, even in the same day. Staff, except for the night staff, never stopped hugging clients or holding their hand. Some staff wear face masks some of the time. Most don’t.

My husband commented earlier this evening on terraces being packed full of people in Elten, Lobith’s neighboring town across the German border. He sarcasttically wondered whether they had the vaccine already. They don’t.

My husband is scared. He may be more cautious than most, or at least than me. That’s a good thing though. He wants to protect himself and his loved ones. I understand.

Meanwhile, I want to go back to normal – the old normal. I saw a writing prompts book on coronavirus today in Apple books and decided to get it, even though in my mind, COVID-19 was in March, not September. Yet it is.

Mama’s Losin’ It

PoCoLo

My Daily Routine (Or Lack Thereof)

And still it’s incredibly hot here! It did start to rain last night, but it’s not cooled down much in my room. It’s already past 9PM here and I don’t feel like writing. Or doing anything else. But I bet I cannot sleep either. Therefore, I blog.

Today’s #FDDA prompt is “your daily routine”. My daily what, I ask?

Unlike many other autistics, I am not one for clear routines. In the mental hospital, I would just lie around and do whatever, just like I see many people do now during the COVID-19 lockdown. I didn’t have a set time I’d go to bed or get up. I didn’t have a daily personal hygiene routine, as I hated most personal care tasks and there was no-one to say I needed to do them. Well, there was the staff, of course, but it was their view that I was responsible enough to decide these things for myself.

Once I lived with my husband, I did go to a day center each weekday morning. This meant I did have to get up at the same time each day. I did have an okay morning routine back then, as my husband had instilled the importance of personal care into me.

Then I went into long-term care. Pre-COVID, I still had somewhat of a routine, as I was expected to go to the day center each weekday (except for every other Friday). I tried to maintain such a routine when the day center closed, but I cannot seem to really.

Still, I have some set activities I do each day. I go for a walk in the morning and one in the afternoon too. We also have coffee, lunch and dinner at the same time each day. Now that it’s hot though, I don’t go for walks and often skip coffee break too.

These last few weeks, the days have truly been merging into each other like time didn’t really matter. I do still try to blog most days, usually around the same time.

Sometimes, I wish I had more of a strict daily routine. That’s not really possible though and I’m not sure it’s really what would be best for me.

What about you? Do you thrive on routine?

Five Things I Enjoyed During Lockdown #5Things

Today I’m joining in with the Five Things Challenge, for which the topic this week is things we enjoyed during lockdown.

Now I must say we had an “intelligent” lockddown here. Most businesses were closed, as were schools and restaurants. Many people still weren’t taking it seriously. After a week of school and business closures, on March 23, the prime minister announced stricter enforcement of the stay-at-home order. That’s when he invented the term “intelligent lockdown”. The care facility implemented a no-visitors policy after this. Still, there were no curfews or rigid restrictions on where or when you could be outside. As such, my list may be a little different from that of those who experienced a complete lockdown. Here goes.

1. Walking. Like I said, we didn’t have a curfew. Still, according to Fitbit, in the Netherlands too steps taken dropped significantly during lockdown. I, however, was able to increase my steps a lot.

2. Blogging. It’s great that the #AtoZChallenge was in April, in the midst of lockdown. I truly enjoyed blogging almost everyday during the strictest stay-at-home orders.

3. Reading. Similarly, suddenly I had time to read. Not only did I not go visit my husband or need to fulfill other obligations, but the day center was (and still is) closed. At the day center, I occasionally tried to read, but the noise was just too much. As a result, I had much more time to read. I don’t think I finished any of the books on my lockdown TBR list, but that’s probably because I’m a mood reader.

4. Saving money. Okay, that’s not something I did, but it did happen. I didn’t go out to dinner or have to buy transportation tickets to go to my husband. I didn’t get my hair done, which was really okay as I hate getting it done. In the end, I ended up saving some money. Then I bought my iPhone, of course.

5. Snacking. In the early weeks of lockdown, I was using the added stressor as an excuse to snack on candy and cookies and basically anything. Magically, I more or less maintained my weight throughout the lockdown. I’m due to get weighed in tomorrow again.

What were the positives of the lockdown for you?