Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Injustice to Broccoli

Well. Just when I thought it was safe to come back to the blogging world, my life gets turned upside down, topsy turvey in fast forward. I had to rush to Florida last Friday to help my mom and dad. This was not written in my planner, not in my datebook. This was an emergency. I will not bore you with the mundane details but my dad had been in the hospital for eight days and we had to move him to a rehab facility. There are many unanswered questions, many details to attend to and a multitude of decisions to be made. I went down to try and offer my support to my parents. It was an experience I will not soon forget and it might be a bit before I recover. If nothing else I did receive an education.

The first thing I learned is that people should be prepared. Important documents such as living wills and power of attorneys should be filled out when people are healthy and calm. I realize it makes people uncomfortable to discuss issues involving death but to not be prepared puts an incredible burden on people when they are under extreme stress. To fill out 'Do Not Resuscitate' forms when one can't even focus is not advisable.

The second thing I learned is that we need to keep on moving. My dad is in his current situation because he has refused for the past nine weeks to get out of his bed. Now there are other circumstances involved here BUT the worse thing he could have done is to become bedridden. His muscles are so atrophied he faces weeks of tough therapy. Even his throat muscles have stopped working properly. Now the atrophied throat muscles have caused me great stress for the past six days. The speech pathologist ordered my dad to be on a diet of pureed foods until they can strengthen his throat muscles.

The third thing I learned is that my father hates pureed foods. I was met by the nurse on Saturday. "Your father is quite indignant about the pureed peas. Do you think you could talk to him? He is refusing to eat."
Lord, help me. I went into his room and used my calm voice. I reminded him about the atrophied throat muscles, the dangers of choking and how if he works really hard during his therapy that he could move up to mechanical soft foods. I prayed he wouldn't ask me what a mechanical soft food was. "Pureed peas taste like dog shit," he yelled at me in a loud enough voice that I am sure the dietary staff could hear him. "Dad, you have got to eat. We are worried about you." His response to me was, "I want chocolate and cookies." I went and bought the man a dish of ice cream. He ate the whole thing. Life was good.

I went in the next day and was met by the same nurse. " We are worried about your father. He is on a hunger strike and won't eat. Could you try talking to him again?" Oh, yeah, I'd love to ~ I was hoping you'd ask me.
" Dad, what seems to be the problem with your food? " Stupid question but I thought I should hear it from him. "They served me pureed broccoli last night. It was an injustice to broccoli . I won't eat that mush." I walked down to the ice cream shoppe and bought him a triple scoop of raspberry sherbet. He ate the whole thing.

On Monday, the speech pathologist agreed to change the food order to mechanical soft. I still don't know exactly what that means but all I know is that he is eating and not causing a scene. I still bought him a dish of ice cream every day.

My dad responds well when I use my 'teacher' voice. I had to resort to it on occasion when he was extremely rude and unruly with some of the staff. "Dad, do you want me to use my teacher voice?" "NO, I don't!" And then he would listen to the therapists or the CNA's while I stood watching in the corner. His roommate, Richard, motioned me over one day.
"So you are a teacher?" he asked me. I replied that I had been in a past life.
"Well, this is what I think about teachers," he replied and proceeded to give me the finger.
I wish I could write about some wise comeback or zinger that I had thrown his way but I just walked out of the room, found a quiet corner and started to cry. The tears were for my dad and for the frustration and stress we had all been under.

I could probably write many more paragraphs. Lord knows there is enough material for an entire book such as when the CNA took my father's temperature by putting the instrument into his ear. He asked her what she was doing and she told him. His reply ~ "Oh, I thought that was a sex toy." My face turned red. That's my dad. And now I am back home safe and sound. Conflicting emotions and ugly memories that I thought I had dealt with are alive once more in my belly. The past is present.


Linda S. Socha said...

I went back and forth between wanting to cry and wanting to laugh reading this post.! What an experience.

I think I would like your Dad. I KNOW I like you!. Wishing you a calmer smooth sailing week

Maggie May said...

I am really sorry to hear about the problems you are having with your dad, regards eating, especially.
My heart goes out to you as I had a similar thing happen to my Mum. She gradually started to refuse to eat, only taking the bare minimum of drinks. After seven years of pleading, getting angry & trying to understand why she was doing it, (and numerous hospital investigations & psychiatric care) she ended up like a living skeleton, contracted pneumonia & died.
I was convinced it was an eating disorder, but was told only young people suffer from that.
Two weeks before she died, doctors told me *You were right, your Mum suffered an eating disorder*
You can imagine how I felt. I have never truly got over it.
I really hope you don't have to go through this too.

Natalie said...

Oh. There are now two of us. I am sorry.
You are lovely though, even if you were a teacher. :D xx♥

Anonymous said...

Oh hun, sorry to hear :( Hope you're OK,


Anonymous said...


Your experiences with your Dad brings back memories of my aging parents and their final fight to be independent. "I don't want to be treated as a child" I would hear my Mom say frequently.

Your Dad's life is out of his control/everyone is telling him what to do and what not to do. One decision he can make is deciding what he will eat. Sooooo, Let's eat ice cream morning, noon and night!!

Sounds like you are learning to dance in the rain along with that fox trot.

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass--- it's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Hugs, maxine

pink dogwood said...

I guess it circles back and your parent become your kid and you have to sort of play the role of an adult now. But it can be frustrating. I went through this with my grnadmother. she had a stroke and lost her memory and forgot who I was. I took care of her for 6 month and she will tell me about her daughter and her granddaughter and not realize that I was her granddaughter.

I hope your dad gets better soon.

best wishes.

Daryl said...

Oh Deb, I feel your frustration and worry ... I was there .. its not easy to see parents aging and having issues like this .. I think you are the best medicine for him because he listens to you. I know you have a life at home but if you can spend time with him (and your mom) it would help everyone ... (((Deb)))

Cheffie-Mom said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father. Blessings to you and your family.

April said...

It is an injustice to broccoli. And my grampa is one of the only people who could say it so succinctly. I want to make a book of everything he says that makes me love him.

Willow said...

Deb, I've been there, done that and had the same emotions. Two parents and a parent in law. Except that none of them ever uttered the 's' word. I wouldn't have wanted to eat pureed peas or 'injustice to broccoli' either. Why can't the kitchen fix appetizing pureed food? My prayers are with you on this journey. I KNOW. Please go buy yourself some triple raspberry sherbet.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Like Linda, this post sent the emotions all over the place-- and I was only reading it-- I can't imagine the stress you've been under. Good for you with the ice cream, morale is an important thing with recovery.

Louise said...

I hardly know what to say except this is horrible and I'm sorry you have to deal with it. I think one of the worst things about the cycle of life is dealing with aging parents. (Maybe those parents would say it's having everyone tell them what to do.) My experiences have put in me a resolve to stay as healthy--mentally and physically--as I possibly can so my kids won't have to deal with some of the things I have. Some things can't be prevented, but a lot of the illness we see in our parents' generation is from things like NOT MOVING and from how they took, or didn't take, care of themselves.

Warm thoughts with you.

Akelamalu said...

They get even more cranky when they're ill don't they? I know what it's like Deb. Glad you're home. x

Beverly said...

Ugh! Life can certainly be tough.

I'll keep you in my prayers.

Brian Miller said...

sounds like he still has some spunk in him based on the comment at the end. sorry to hear and hope he is on the mend soon. i must say pureed broccoli does sound a bit atrocious. Although i watched a show once where they made broccoli ice cream. i digress.

prayers your way and his.

Momma Miller said...

Man, oh, man. He sure has energy and spunk for someone who's been bedridden and not eating. I'm so sorry for all the stress and heartache you've been experiencing.

Thinking of you (in Nebraska)!


ssskip said...

I feel for you, Deb! I've watched as my mother took care of her ailing parents, and it's taken a toll on her. Grandpa is still with us (though he's not the Superman he used to be); I'm pretty sure he's too stubborn to die.

I'm trying to convince mother to take some "me" time for herself...I think it's perfectly OK to be selfish with yourself when you need to recharge.

Here's hoping you may find the strength to keep helping your parents. Take care of you, too!

mary said...

oh - snif, sniff
been through it - going through it again w/ a friend
prayers to you

Shrinky said...

Oh Debs, my heart goes out to you. I did laugh out loud at the sex toy wise-crack, he still has his humour then? (I remember feeling likewise mortified when a priest dropped in to offer my father his pastoral care (my father was a life long aethiest, much to my mother's eternal grief.) I was keeping vigil at his bedside, nine months pregnant at the time.

"Sod off, and stop eyeing up me daughter" said he. Oh boy, he knew no shame, that dad of mine!

I so hope things will soon improve, my thoughts are with you and your family. (x)

Deb said...

Hi Everyone ~ Thank you so much for your kind words - it DOES help!

Hi Linda ~ You would like my dad. And I like you also. :)

Hi Maggie ~ I am so sorry you had to go through that. I have to be honest and say there has been a great deal of frustration dealing with the medical world. Good thing I am so stubborn. ;)

Hi Natalie ~ Smile and hugs for you!

Hi Chapati - Thanks.

Hi Maxine - I am dancing. Thank you for your kind words - it means a lot to me.

Hi Pink Dagwood ~ Life is a circle.

Hi Daryl ~ I am surprised how well my dad does respond to me. I can assure you he never did before. I will be flying to Fla. again - soon.

Hi Cheffie ~ Thank you.

Hi April ~ And your grampa loves you - more than you will ever know.

Hi Willow ~ I love ice cream - but I have to be careful or else I will eat the whole thing - in one sitting.

Hi IBHH ~ Positive attitude is everything.

Hi Louise ~ Keep on moving.

Hi Ake ~ Cranky is his middle name. ;)

Hi Beverly ~ Pray hard.

Hi Brian ~ I inherited my spunkiness from my dad.

Hi Momma Miller ~ I need prayers from all 50 states.

Hi Ssskip ~ I am trying to help my mom learn how to take care of herself. Not easy after all these years of not caring for ones' self. :)

Hi Mary ~ All prayers are appreciated. Thank you.

Hi Shrinky ~ I never know what is going to come out of his mouth next. Never a dull moment. :)

Dianne said...

the past is present - I certainly empathize with you on that front

sending hugs

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