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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Bump On The Road

Sometimes it seems the universe wants to throw boards onto the bike path.  The room that we were told would become available, will not be.  We didn't know the details, of course, but it seems the family got VA benefits to keep their elder at the assisted living house.

Now, the next room available will probably be from someone who is at hospice care level.  Hospice care is not long-term, of course, and the room might even come available sooner.

None of us want to see any elder taken out of assisted living care from lack of funds, and we sure don't want someone's loved one to die conveniently just to make a room available.  We will simply wait for the wheel of life to turn naturally and offer space for OUR Dad.  Meanwhile, I will "keep on keeping on" and hope Dad has good days until space at this good place is available.

I am going to decline the respite care available locally if I can.  I don't want Dad to have to move twice.  Once will be hard enough.  I can keep answering the same questions each day, the new weird questions, and the daily food difficulties (while at the same time hoping he does not get suddenly worse).

Tonight, Dad suddenly couldn't cut his chicken thigh (a favorite food).  Well, all meat has been becoming a problem.  He wiggles his knife 1/16th" and the meat moves that far too, so no cutting occurs.  He blames the meat or the knife of course.  I asked if he wanted help and he said that I couldn't possibly cut it either because it was so tough.

Well, he can't make full cutting strokes, but he was trying to cut through the bone!  I took care of it, "zip, zip, zip" and he was amazed.  I just said "Long knife-strokes, Dad" (as I've said almost every night for months).  I will take of that for all future meals.  I can get de-boned chicken thighs and serve more meals that don't require knife-work.

He does better with pork stew (roasted Boston Butt cubed up with diced potato/carrots/beans/onion and a flour-thickened herb sauce), peeled shrimp, Italian sausage smothered is slow-cooked red and green bell peppers or spaghetti with commercial meatballs (simmer crushed canned tomatoes with crushed garlic, italian seasoning, and minced onions with the meatballs for 30 minutes.  Commercial sauce has way too much sugar and salt).  No bones, and the meat is either pre-cut or easy to cut (like the sausage).  I slit the sausage down the side and remove the casing.  I've learned to make chicken breast strips (called "chicken fingers" locally) here with dipping sauces too (but Dad thinks he is supposed to eat the sauces with a spoon.

A smile:  Dad is so used to being "cheap" that a drop of sauce is all he wants...  I am so used to making grand meals ("Sunday Dinner" every day) that I hardly think twice about the effort.  That part of Dad's support is nearly invisible to me.  It really doesn't take much effort to make a sauce for two as for one.  I eat spaghetti for the tomato sauce*; Dad wants just a spoonful of ANY sauce.  Cooking for someone else is weird,

But I've learned to stop worrying HOW he eats his food (which used to drive me nuts).  If he thinks the pork stew is soup, that's fine.  If he thinks the dipping sauces are "side dishes", that's fine.  If he wants to scrape the wine/horseradish topping off his beef and put it in his salad, that's fine (as long as he eats the salad).  But I don't want to watch, LOL!  The important thing is that it all gets inside him.  But he eats his meals at a dining table (very traditionally) and I eat on a TV tray while watching science/nature DVDs (about my only TV viewing). 

OK, this has gone from Dad moving out to food.  That's OK, I love food (and at 5'7" and 163 pounds, I'm not too worried about it.  What I DO demand of my food is that it be varied and healthy.  Without ever intending to follow a diet, I find that I am close to "Paleo Diet".  Some meat, lots of non-grain veggies, not much sugar, and plenty of fruit.  I can actually eat "one potato chip" and I have one small piece of chocolate after a meal.  Good quality chocolate, though, LOL!

To connect this back to Dad though, he has to have a standard dessert, and large.  Big bowl of ice cream, a few chocolate chip cookies, I don't worry about it.  I try to get him to eat fresh fruit, buts that's actually more for the water (he avoids water).

We'll get by for the next month or so until there is a room at the assisted living facility that seems best-suited for him.  Waiting an extra month for "the best place he will spent the rest of his life" is survivable with an end to his time here in sight.

Do I want him to be out of here?  Yes.  Do I want my regular life back?  Yes.  Who wouldn't?  But I can keep going for now, and that's the important thing.  It's duty, responsibility, and respect for now.

Would I talk to him often if he was just my next-door neighbor?  Probably not.  He was an obnoxious pain decades ago.  His golf partners used to roll their eyes at the things he said.  At times, he could make Rush Limbaugh seem liberal.  But now is not the time to try to teach him anything.

My job now is to manage his "end of life" issues.

*  I once dated an ethnically Italian girl and at my first dinner there, they offered me the sauce first. I botched it by pouring a load of sauce on my pasta.  The relationship didn't last (for other reasons).  Interestingly,  a co-worker told me about HER first meal with an Italian family and SHE knew not to use much tomato sauce.  I would blame my parents for not teaching me such fine details, but they came from big sauce families.  ;)

"Laugh at the world; it won't care".



Megan said...

Hey - can I come and live at your place once your Dad has moved out? Please? Your cooking sounds fantabulous to me and I could promise not to ask the same question every night for a month. LOL

Sydney, Australia

The Cat From Hell said...

I am with Megan! And you don't have to cut my meat!

Spindrifters said...

ummm - it's going to get kind of crowded there - I was thinking the same thing -

Hang in there Mark - there's a light at the end of the tunnel. T.

Megan said...

What do you mean, "there's light at the end of the tunnel"? At this point, poor Mark is contemplating having at least three of us move in as soon as his Dad has moved out - and once the word spreads, there could be a queue out the door. LOL

Sydney, Australia

Tina T-P said...

Oops wrong persona - Spindrifters is my fiber group :-) T.

Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

I'm sorry the room fell through, but good I guess for the Vet who gets to stay. Hope a new one opens up soon, and we'll all not think about how that happens.
I had no idea you weren't supposed to put a lot of sauce on spaghetti.. I like there to be enough to dip bread in!

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

LOL! A Person after my own sauce-loving... One of these days I am going to make real hollandaise sauce and then (dare I say it?) bernaise sauce for a filet mignon, wrapped in bacon and surrounded with crispy fried potato wedges...

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

Oops person = people. As in all of you.

Megan said...

I was too embarrassed to ask about the amount of sauce - I didn't even realise that I was doing it wrongly, but since others are owning up ... I'll admit that I've always thought it was nearly all about the sauce and not much at all about the actual pasta.

Then again, my parents didn't teach me how to swirl spaghetti on my fork when I was a child, and I didn't appreciate how to do it until I had left home.

What can I say? I had a deprived childhood! LOL

Sydney, Australia

Shaggy and Scout said...

Hi Mark, I'm sorry things have escalated so fast for you and the promised room fell through. This post sounds more relaxed than the last several ones, so I take it you are at peace with the issues now and what remains is the waiting game. I've read the comments on all the posts I've missed and everyone is so supportive and sensible when offering their opinions. This has been a long, tedious journey for you both, and the cats too since they can feel the tension in a home just like we can.
Sounds like the food line at your door is getting a bit long, but I just may squeeze in for a bit of food sometime soon too!
Peace to you Mark....I've said it before, I'll say it again: you are an amazing man. -Lynne