Archives for: September 2012
How many times do mothers tell their children, "If you do that, you'll break your neck." I know I said those words many times. I'll never forget the day when my Strong Son, a 7th grader at the time, came into the kitchen with his head cocked to one side. He had to confess that he had been jumping on his bed - something that was absolutely against the rules. He couldn't straighten his head. I took him for x-rays, and the radiologist was afraid to make the call. They sent the x-rays to a neurosurgeon who said his vertebrae were fine, but the muscles in his neck were in spasm. The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers, which didn't help his neck but had some weird side effects. So we stopped the medication and he wore a padded neck brace for several days. One morning he woke up and everything was back to normal.
Now I can smile when I think of that story. But my Honorable Husband's mother was not so fortunate.
A week ago she fell in her home and cracked two vertebrae in her neck. Fortunately she was not paralyzed. But she is in lots of pain. She was in the hospital for 5 days. During that time they observed that she was having trouble swallowing. After tests, they put her on a diet of pureed food and thickened liquids. No one knows whether the swallowing is a result of the neck injury or something unrelated.
She has terrible headaches. No one is sure whether the headaches are caused by the fall, the neck injury, or too few calories (because she does not like pureed food). She takes pain medication every 3 hours.
She was released from the hospital to a rehab center where she will get 3 months of physical and occupational therapy. She will also see a speech therapist who will work on her swallowing techniques. The therapists are optimistic about her chances for a full recovery - if she eats enough to keep up her strength and if she works hard in therapy.
HH and I went to stay with her in rehab for 6 days. He was there in the daytime. I was there at night and in the morning. That way we made sure we got to talk to all of the doctors and therapists.
Here are a few things I want to remember as I get older. Perhaps they will help you or someone you love.
* Don't be too ashamed or too busy to use a walker. HH's Mom is 91 and has arthritis. She has a walker. She uses it almost the time. But that particular day she decided to walk across the den without it.
* Pain medication is a mixed blessing. Without it she cannot make it through a therapy session. But there are side effects - noticeably anger and repetitive behavior.
* Nurses and nurses aides respond to kindness. When she smiles at them and says thank you, she gets better care than when she complains. She got better care because family was there to take on a lot of duties ourselves - like feeding her and standing by while she went to the potty.
* A strong, healthy 59 year old woman (like me) is not strong enough to support the weight of a helpless 91 year old. I had to call for assistance when she needed to be moved. I was very aware of the danger that I could wind up in the room next door if I was not careful with my own legs, neck, and back. Injuries can happen fast - and have serious consequences.
* It would be really, really hard to come anywhere close to the BTD diet in a hospital or nursing facility. Everything is sweetened - sometimes with sugar; sometimes with NutraSweet. The theory is that the patients will eat more if sugar is added to the food. There are wheat products everywhere. On the pureed diet, they smash up rolls, pancakes, noodles, cereal, and more. The pureed bread must be pretty bad - HH's Mom usually loves bread, but she refuses to eat it pureed. The thickener in the water and juice is made from corn starch.
Having experienced how much better I feel, and how much faster I heal when I eat right, I'm afraid I would seriously clash with hospital dietitians.
SIL is a seminary student studying to be a minister. He has been called to pastor of a church in a rural community. There are many, many exciting things about this position. One is that the church members are so warm and encouraging to both SIL and DD. The other is that they have a parsonage!
The house has been vacant for about a year - since the former pastor moved out. So there were lots of bugs to be killed and lots of dust to wipe away. Because this will be their first home, they want to make it cute and special. They decided to paint...and to retile the bathroom...and to put shelf paper in all the cabinets. They had a very ambitious project list and not very many days before they had to be out of their apartment.
SIL's family came one weekend and got about half of the house painted. My Honorable Husband and I went last weekend. DD and I tackled the kitchen. HH and SIL laid the tile and continued painting. We worked hard, but it was fun because we were working together.
DD cooked for us Friday night. They have a George Foreman Grill, and she used it to make chicken. I was impressed. The chicken was tender and juicy. She used two salt free Mrs. Dash seasoning mixes on the chicken. One was spicy and the other was mild. Both were delicious. She also served curried green beans, turnip greens with ghee, a relish tray, and millet cornbread.
For lunch on Saturday she had tuna melts. She did a variation on a recipe I used to make which was popular with my children and their friends. She mixed tuna, cilantro, an herbal seasoning, and a neutral creamy dressing. I had always used mayonnaise, but SIL likes dressing better. You put the tuna mixture on top of slices of sprouted bread and top them with grated mozzarella cheese. You put them in the broiler until the cheese melts and starts to bubble.
Saturday night we were all tired and dirty. We drove into town for Mexican food. I had the second best taco salad I've ever eaten. On Sunday we got to hear SIL preach, then had lunch at an Italian restaurant. My chicken Caesar salad was outstanding. They are blessed to have at least two BTD friendly restaurants in their small town.
We worked a little more Sunday afternoon. At the end of the weekend when we looked around, we were amazed at how much progress had been made.
SIL will commute to seminary one day a week and take the rest of his classes on line. DD will continue to work at her job in marketing. She says, "I've been spending 30-45 minutes a day in heavy traffic. Now I'll be spending 45 minutes to an hour driving through the countryside."
I had a wonderful birthday month. My Strong Son, my Honorable Husband, and several friends took me out to eat. Great BTD choices everywhere we went.
Lamb and vegetables at Ghengas Kahn with SS. Steak and sweet potato with HH. One friend took me to a tea room where I had fabulous jasmine green tea. Two friends took me out for Mexican food. At one restaurant I had the best taco salad I've ever eaten. At the other I ordered a dinner with grilled chicken, rice, beans, and salad. It would have been delicious except they put pico de gallo all over the salad. I like spicy food, but I do not like raw peppers and onions!
I've also gone to several dessert events recent days. Some were related to my birthday, some were business related, and some were church events. The thing I learned about myself is that while excess sugar on a regular basis is not advisable for anyone, as long as I stayed away from wheat neither my mood nor my weight was effected. I had several pieces of pie - with interesting discussions about why I ate the filling out of the crust. I also enjoyed a serving of flan, a Mexican egg custard with a sauce that is not too sweet.
So for me - forget the birthday cake and bring on the birthday pie!
The day after my birthday I told a friend that I now have 364 days to do everything I wanted to do while I'm in my 50's. A few of those days are already gone. Perhaps next time I'll tell you about one of the things that I wanted to accomplish while before I turn 60.