Posts Tagged ‘health’

Since last I wrote a new wrinkle has been added to my already untidy life, my mother fell and broke her hip. For a woman in her nineties my mother is somewhat of an amazement. The last time I took her in for a visit with her primary care physician he commented on how well she continues to thrive for a lady of a certain age. (You can’t see me but I’m knocking on wood this continues. We are betting she blows out the candles on her 100th birthday cake.) After running a mind boggling battery of standard tests checking everything from the length of her earlobes to her how well she flexes her pinkie, he could not find anything concerning……..well, physically. Mental prowess, I’m afraid, might earn her a lower grade. Mother’s short term memory has been declining steadily over the last four years. Though we continue to share conversations where both parties contribute, often when I tell her something it quite literally goes in one ear and immediately exits out on the opposite side. Repeat, pause, repeat, is the mantra at our house.

Certainly memory loss when plowing through your nineties is not unexpected. Like a trusty old vehicle things begin to corrode and function less efficiently as time passes. Interestingly enough, no matter how degraded her short term memory has become her core being remains intact. Her well appointed apartment is neat as a pin with all things folded neatly and a place for everything and everything in its place. Every Thursday at 11:00 she gets her hair done, and whether or not the earth is facing imminent destruction at 5:15 that Manhattan with one cherry and three ice cubes needs to show up in her special glass at 5:00. Some things, despite the complexities of life, never change.

Aside from the dementia dogging her heels my little mother (I use little only in reference to her stature, as she’s huge in attitude and personality) does battle with OCD. As of this writing I am unhappy to report that it’s Mother 1 – OCD 2,460,910. Most likely she should have been treated for this years ago but again I point to her sometimes obstinate nature, in-born pride, and the lack of information they had about such things in her younger years. Thus, we all deal with the consequences of incessant tidiness and a need for perfection, but this is balanced out with her sweet disposition (most of the time), undying love of family, indomitable determination, and generous nature.

Though I don’t allow the internal conversation to bubble over and fester, my mind can’t help but conjure up the what if’s of a parent getting older, a serious injury, and the statistics surrounding such a fall and break. I am still processing the loss of my significant other last year and the thought of losing another person close to me might trigger a full on anxiety attack if I let it have its way. Often I have told Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, I expect her to live to be at least thirty, as I couldn’t imagine a world without her silly face staring at me over the laptop in the morning. I choose to hold on to positive thoughts, enjoy as much time as I can with my mother and my dear kitty, and be thankful for all the years, good and bad, we have shared on this planet. Someone said to me somewhere along the way “Death is an integral part of life. We all suffer loss. If you can’t learn to handle it, it will make the act of living far more difficult.”

Mother has put the surgery behind her plus three days in the hospital and is now occupying a bed at the local skilled nursing facility where they will rebuild her stamina while her leg mends. This process, or so I am told, is a combination of rest, attitude, and general level of health and unique to each individual. The State of California legislators passed a law a while back banning the use of railings, bed alarms, or any type of restraint in extended care facilities such as mother is staying in. Struggling to comprehend the reason for such a law, because to me these safety measures are needed, I was given to understand some patients have been injured by the railings. People have gotten tangled in the railing apparatus thus prompting such legislation. The bed alarms, or anything restricting the movement of the patient are now viewed as a form of mistreatment. If dealing with a heavily sedated patient or someone with less capacity to understand what is and is not safe for themselves, it seems to me there might might be room for some exceptions to such a ruling.

When she was transferred I was told by the charge nurse that in cases where dementia has been diagnosed the family is expected to be at the facility 24/7 to watch their loved one. Once I closed my mouth after that statement, I said “really”? What do people do who have small children, jobs, school, …….um lives? What do those people do with a request like that? What do people like myself who aren’t blessed with a large extended family or a large bank account do in such a situation? We are not talking a couple of days but rather several weeks or far longer. I adore my mother and would happily do anything for her but even I, in spite of the large red “S” emblazoned on my J Crew tee, do not have enough stamina to pull that out of my hat without some consequences to my health.

I was told by one of the CRN’s they are short staffed and she works long shifts. Apparently they fill out their staff with family members to make up for the lack of manpower. For anyone going through such an ordeal set up a case meeting immediately such as I did. At that meeting I explained my situation and that I could not “live” at their facility. Alternate solutions after the meeting such as a CRN from the facility checking her at regular intervals, keeping her bed at it’s lowest height, and putting pads on the floor have been put into place, when I am not on the premises. These are not optimum solutions certainly but better than instituting no precautions at all. Also a caregiver (at our expense) has been brought on board three nights a week to be there so I can get some rest. This at the suggestion of my cat who had placed an ad in the paper looking for a new home with a human who lives there once and a while.

The food is another beef I have. (I use the term beef here in the loosest sense, because what they have been serving thus far hasn’t been anything even closely resembling beef or any other meat I recognize.) Though I realize their food can’t be heavily seasoned or spicy due to dietary concerns, at least it could be palatable. Yesterday, I swear to God, lunch looked as though someone had regurgitated on the plate. That being said, I bring in the food. I label it and it is put in their fridge for her use. After three days it is tossed. Somehow I suspect someone is participating in some of this bounty because I left a to-go container with a baked potato and delicious gooey ribs in there clearly marked and dated and mysteriously it opened the refrigerator door in the middle of the night and escaped to wherever uneaten ribs go to avoid the inevitable. Huh.

The food issues, like any health issues, require you advocating for your loved one. Over the past ten years I have been called into duty to be a caregiver for someone I hold dear on more than one occasion. They are ill and can’t do it for themselves so you essentially become their “voice”. If a procedure seems wrong trust your instincts and speak up.

Another tip is to get to know the staff. I have gotten to know a lot of the nurses personally. They bend over backwards to keep my mother safe and well tended to. One nurse, Rowena, has been on shift often during my mother’s stay. Originally from a poor village in the Philippines, Rowena is one of thirteen children. She seems fascinated with my only child status. When I told her I had no siblings at first I think she thought I was kidding her. Nope, just me. The tallest, the shortest, the best, the worst, and yes, the one and only princess on my block. The matriarch of her clan is her 105 year old grandma. “Grandma” was described as a tiny woman with silver hair down to her waist who enjoys squatting on the floor of her modest home and sharing the wisdom of her many years with her offspring. One such pearl, according to Rowena, was that the eldest of the clan are tasked with showing the younger members how to care for their parents as they age. In other words how I treat my parents will be a guide for my children as to how to treat me when I may need their help. Interesting. Hope mine are paying attention.

So another chapter opens up in my roller coaster life, and just when the dust was beginning to settle on the last one. Guess I can honestly say that above all things I am rarely bored, which I believe is a good thing. As usual life offers up new lessons to ponder as the days unfold. I try to keep my eyes and ears open to what is coming my way and either tuck it away for future consideration, pass it on, or release it. I had a friend a long time ago who had a tee shirt that read “keep the best and leave the rest”. Guess that’s kind of how I view all this information coming my way each day. Take with you what is relevant and leave behind you what doesn’t pertain to your life. Have an excellent day!!

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finalfinalI’m heading out for a walk. Bathing suit weather is coming and I’m ill prepared for the challenge. Many blogs back I believe I mentioned I got a membership at one of the large local fitness centers. Since that post I have gone exactly once. Sigh. Walking is exercise I easily throw myself into. However, when floor exercises and treadmills are added to the mix somehow you lose me. When it comes to structured exercise my mind will accept any excuse thrown in its direction to avoid becoming involved. “It’s not healthy to exercise on any day of the week ending in d-a-y. Somewhere in the world it’s most likely night. My second smallest toe is larger than the big one making my balance questionable”. You name it, I can run with it. Not literally, naturally.

During a recent shopping trip my friend and neighbor suggested I join her for yoga. Couldn’t we just do lunch and call it good? Before committing myself I needed to acquaint myself with what yoga entailed. I watched a video on the subject. Really? Gumby couldn’t accomplish some of the positions shown. My oldest granddaughter is going to school to become a certified yoga trainer so I suppose in support of her aspirations and my well being I could give it a try. Getting in the spirit of the idea I picked up a yoga mat at the dollar store. No point in investing heavily in equipment in case its a short run.

Fortunately, all my workout clothes are nearly brand new. Their only function until now being gathering dust in my closet. Pulling on some Spandex, I hopped in the car with my trusty mat tucked under one arm heading for an exhilarating morning of stretching and posing. My anticipation at auditing the class was palpable. Not. The last time I attended a structured fitness group I chose Jazzercize. A bad choice in hindsight. Inadvertently I signed up for an advanced group. While the well choreographed women seamlessly moved about the floor doing their routines Susie floundered about in the middle of them like a recently caught trout in the bottom of a boat. Humiliation isn’t a big enough word to cover that morning.

As expected on arrival the yoga bunch was a mixed age group of about thirty. Mats of different hues were tossed about on the floor. With a peaceful brook gurgling in the background a perfectly toned instructor took her place at the front of the room. Speaking in tones that would lull a meth addict to sleep, we began with stretches. For the newbies she explained the basics. If these were the basics, I definitely wasn’t ready for whatever followed. Then, meditation. I found this part relaxing and certainly not asking too much of my body. Next we were asked to extend ourselves face down with our hands and feet on the floor and stick our behinds up in the air. Hmmmm. I believe this was called the dolphin. I’ve been to Sea World on numerous occasions and don’t remember ever seeing the mammals assuming such a position, but okay. Inside my head I heard my spine creaking and shifting as I assumed the position. Ouch. Secretly I was wondering if there was a chiropractor on the premises. One might be needed before the hour is over. Why can’t humans be born in perfect condition, with perfect teeth, and move on from there? I’m adding this to my list of questions should I make it to where it is we go once we leave our bodies behind. Several positions with “dog” in them came next, which I managed to execute without totally embarrassing myself. Quickly it became evident whoever originated yoga had been sitting on their porch observing wildlife while the concept took shape. Many of the positions were a tribute to animal agility. Certainly most were not a tribute to mine.

Towards the end she did three or four positions for the more advanced students suggesting those of us just getting started observe but not participate. No worries here. After seeing what they were doing even if I’d been enthusiastic about trying these there surely would have been body casts and EMT’s involved somewhere shortly afterwards. One she called an “ear pressure pose”. Made my ears pop and I was sitting on the floor as they executed it trying to keep from throwing up.

I will go back I decided, contributing $20 towards the next lesson. In between it was suggested we review videos on-line and become familiar with the various positions on the paperwork they gave us. Uh huh.

After our company left I had bananas leftover. They went in this scrumptuous banana cake. Yum. Better add running to the yoga.

Banana Apricot Nut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. apricot brandy
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup drained and finely chopped canned apricots
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 x 9″ pan with cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl cream butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat for 2 mins. Add vanilla, brandy, bananas and canned apricots. Beat for 2 mins.

In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 mins. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool on rack until completely cool. Frost cake once cool and sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. pkg. soft cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Whip together cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar, mixing well.

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