Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kitchen Scales. Cooking for the elderly challenges creativity, and other stuff,

Yesterday was a long day.

With only minimal services of one hour in the morning to assist with Arthur's care, I am physically tired. At least it  is free exercise. I don't have to pay for weightlifting, walking, or stretching classes and I don't even need to leave home.

Preparing meals is going to be a challenge. The rehabilitation facility (TCP unit) advised me on preparation of Arthur's food and I suppose I was still hoping he could eat his meals chopped finely instead of the pureed stuff he was bored with in their care. For his first meal home, I tried a lamb chop with the meat cut finely and re-arranged back next to the bone so it still  looked like a chop. He got through half of it and some veges but gave up and had a larger dessert. Yesterday I carved chicken off the bone into small pieces. I crumbed and fried them and served them with gravy and mashed potato and other mashed vegetables. Arthur tried hard but finally said it would have to be pureed, He said that he didn't mind it that way, just that in the TCP unit the food got boring. I am sure Arthur was disappointed he couldn't eat my food but just didn't want to upset me. He will keep things to himself to protect me.

Of course I feel like I am a failure. I have been taking a lot of time and care to prepare food that is interesting and that Arthur would like. When I was studying and working full-time, he did all the cooking,, shopping and most of the housework, as he was retired from the workforce. Then our roles reversed when I left the workforce to look after him. Now this one big thing I could do, feed this man and feed him well, seems to be gone, I am looking for the bright side, maybe there will be less washing up?

Yesterday was not good in that the facility was right again, when they said older people sometimes lose continence after a bout of illness and do not regain it. Arrangements have been made and the pads Arthur used to wear for outings in his wheelchair are now a permanent fixture. It seems to be an affront to this proud man's dignity but like a lot of things he appears to be accepting it, How much he really is upset by all this will only come out when he finally confides in me, which he will.

I hesitate to speak of the next thing as it is a difficult subject and not to Arthur's dignity to discuss it, but this blog is intended to be the story of this journey. It is to leave the story of Arthur and me here when it is finished and no real human story is a series of montages. Unlike the movies and television dramas our lives do not move smoothly from scene to scene, there are multiple threads, messy interruptions and inconclusive alleyways. Arthur for the first time lost control of his bowel, after he took a senna-type tablet last night.

I dealt with it, efficiently and pushing a veil of detachment on the process. I can remember thinking, at least there is no problem there, the little brown tablet worked. He was standing up so it was an easy one. For Arthur it was shocking, he was apologetic, embarrassed and in tears. I did not tell him it was nothing, because it wasn't but I said it was okay, it was dealt with and it was over and, 'let's move on'. I didn't have the heart to tell him all I cared about was that everything was working, "Hey, it's great, the drains are clear.'

Arthur keeps apologising for putting him through this. I reassure him and say it is fine, I am happy I am here for him. That is a great joy for me. That gets me to the kernel of my feelings. I am so very glad I am here for him, the thought of him going through this without me here to help distresses me terribly. To have to cope with this without me, to be dependent and alone, to have no-one to call on at night or be without someone looking out for his interests to me would be the greatest tragedy.  I worry now for when my kids get old, who will care for them, for by that time I will be long dead. I hope they have partners who will love and care for them when the time comes.  I am so grateful I am here for him now,

I almost left him a couple of times. I came very close when I was forty years of age, Our differences seemed greater than our connections and I thought about what I wanted out of life and it was not what I had. Arthur was of that very English style of conditional love, that drove me up the wall at times. He could not, on the other hand, understand how I seemed to put up with anything my kids did. "I would never speak to them again until....." he would say.  I would tell him that is not how I did things. But a crisis brings things into sharp relief. Breaking his hip in 1988 and becoming a victim of a home invasion in 1998, brought my feelings for Arthur into focus and I could not bear the thought of him being alone.

I know it will be better when our full services are restored. Just when you are at your lowest, the glories of the service from an outsourced service provider kicks you down one step lower, but that is a topic deserving its own page.

Yesterday was a long day. Today I am doing pot-roast beef and will try pureeing it and st\ill making it look like roast beef, I am not sure how, but we will see.

Today is not going to be a very short one either.

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