I Looove Lettuce!

It took this snowbird fleeing our Canadian Winter to make me realize I love lettuce.  The year was 1996 when we fled to Indonesia to spend three unforgettable months in Bali.

We lived in Sanur village within walking distance to the beach and its many famous restaurants.  Kuta Beach, only about a half hour away, is the more famous one. Crazy nightclubs crowded streets, restaurants, shopping, tourists, and the place to party and have fun.   Sad to say Kuta Beach was also the site of a terrorist bombing on October 12, 2002.

It was in Bali that we met our Dutch son, Duncan (See post: A Most Unusual Birthday) and together we discovered Bali.  We had some remarkable experiences among which were:

Attending a funeral rite including the burning of the body;

Visiting Pura Besakih, the Mother Temple, while an important religious ceremony was in progress;

Being served tea on the beach in raised, open, luxurious Japanese tea house  tent-like structures at the magnificent hotel in Nusa Dua;

Getting a spontaneous invitation to an afterbirth ceremony and family celebration;

Getting up close but certainly not personal with a Komodo dragon on Komodo Island;

Watching the amazing carvers in Ubud bring out the most intricate art from pieces of wood;

Dining on fresh caught fish at Jimbaran Bay.

Our travels took us everywhere.  Duncan was our intrepid driver, bobbing and weaving among the multitude of motorcycles carrying entire families on one small scooter.

But back to lettuce.  When we had arrived in Bali we were given brochures full of information for foreigners.  They stressed drinking bottled water and not using ice that was not made from purified water.   In fact, in our apartment, though there was a fully functioning bathroom, we were brought pitchers of boiled water every morning to brush our teeth.

In Balinese culture there are the sacred elements of which water was perhaps the most revered.  It was the lifeblood, the cleansing power, a major highway to Nirvana.

Every rite involved water.  Everything was done by, in or near the water. Everything!

All three of us, as seasoned travellers had not drunk any water nor ate anything that was not peeled, boiled or cooked. Sure there were ‘western restaurants’ and very upscale hotels which we frequented.. However, even in those establishments I could not and would not eat anything raw. Thus for three whole months I did not have a raw salad. You can cook tomatoes, pickle cucumbers and boil all kinds of vegetables but, as far as I knew no-one yet had discovered a way to boil lettuce.

We had arranged to stop in Hawaii for two weeks on our way home.  The plane landed.  We got to our hotel and as we registered I asked about restaurants with a salad bar.  Hotel receptionists are used to a variety of interesting questions.  I was told that there were quite a few restaurants in Honolulu with salad bars.  I smiled politely and told him that after unpacking we would come for directions to one of those restaurants.

After a 12 hour flight from Denpasar to Honolulu we were tired and hungry so it was not long before we were ready to go out for dinner.  We went to the Reception.  There was someone new at the desk.

“Hi. Would you direct us to a restaurant near…”

“Oh, yes, Ma’am….

“Excuse me.  It must have a salad bar”

A curious glance then: “Sure, ma’am.  Do you want seafood, a steakhouse or one with local specialties?”

Bert:  “We are not fussy.  Any of those will do…”

“But it must have a salad bar”, I interjected.

The look has gone beyond curiosity. “Should there be anything special on the salad bar”?

Now I am wondering about that question but decide that maybe she thinks I am a vegetarian.

“It must have lettuce.”  The woman behind us giggled.  The Receptionist’s eyes blink, no doubt to contain her own laughter.  I reviewed the whole conversation in my head and thought perhaps they would decide to ask this crazy woman who seems to have an abnormal fixation on lettuce to vacate the premises.

I laughed and said: “I have not had lettuce in three months and have discovered that I really do love it. There was an undertone of relief as with a smile she said: “Then we must get you to a salad bar right away.”

The Meander:  Prior to our Bali winter lettuce was just lettuce. I ate it.  It was a triviality. However no food has ever tasted as good as that lettuce on that salad bar.  We take so much for granted that sometimes it takes loss for us to appreciate what we have.

 

 

For Caregivers: All Mothers!

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!

To those who never gave birth but are mothers of the heart

To those who are mothers on the second shift

To caregiver mothers who are mothers to husbands, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends grandparents, partners

To men who are caregiver mothers to wives, mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, friends, partners.

 

 

Today, I want to be mother to all caregiver mothers, to embrace you, to give you hugs, to let you know that as a caregiver mother I do know the sorrow, the joy and love of being a caregiver mother.

Here’s to another perfect day of doing and an infinitesimal token of appreciation for all we do.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Meander:  Every week I look forward to receiving the Alzheimer’s Weekly & Dementia Weekly Newsletter.  It is filled with information on the many forms of dementia, new research, caregiver support and ideas to ease our special journey.  It links to other publications and organizations. Each issue begins with a Thought for the Week similar to the one reprinted above.   I must confess that in addition to the articles I do look forward to these gems with  anticipation.

Thank you John Wooden.

 

Baker’s Yeast…er…Cyst

My foot was elevated on a stool, cushioned by a pillow.  The entire leg was swollen with the knee looking suspiciously like a substitute for a basketball.  The ice pack was enclosed in a small towel resting on the knee.  The pain was, well I have given birth so I will not say it is the worst I have experienced but it comes a close second.

Everyone says exercise is so very good for you.  In my case exercise is hazardous to my health. My used to be dear friend chortled and proclaimed: “You are the only person I know who could bust up a knee slipping from a stationary exercise bike.”  That is true.  I did not fall off.  One well shod, sneakered foot slipped out of the stirrup and all my voluptuous avoirdupois went onto one leg and landed me in painsville.

I iced the entire leg and took myself to the doctor. I was sent for X-ray and a number of ultrasound tests including DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).  That one gave me pause as you are talking probable serious repercussions if there is a clot.    My doctor called as soon as she had some results to say: “I am happy to tell you that there is no clot, however you have a Baker’s  …ist (mumble) behind the knee.”

“Baker’s yeast?”  I asked incredulously.

“No, no, it is called Baker’s CYST”.

I had never heard of this.  She told me she would be referring me to an Orthopaedic surgeon and in the meantime I was to follow the RICE formula.

I was surprised how many people knew about Baker’s Cysts, how many had had it or knew people who had.  I had read up on it and was praying that it would heal itself as can and does happen.  One acquaintance gleefully informed me that she had had the needle aspiration and showed me the length of the needle that in my apprehensive state seemed to be at least a foot.  Yikes!

As is always the case, my Lifers were among my best support.  Outpourings of love and practical offerings and advice came from each one.  I emailed my thanks, explaining that I was being good and that RICE was helping. Jay wrote to ask what RICE was. I explained it was an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, the method used in First aid to relieve pain and swelling and to promote healing and flexibility. Here are excerpts of messages which followed:

Jay: “I thought you were eating the rice…I don’t think my neighbours, knew that either …  her doctor put her on a rice diet and she asked me if I had any rice, actually she was on rice and bananas and I wonder if her rice was the same as your rice  haha. I gave her some rice and never gave it a second thought, but now I wonder 

Me: “Now, that’s is hilarious!  Given my experience with aches and pains – rolled ankle, banged up elbow, I am quite familiar with RICE.  By the way I also like rice.  Did your neighbour have any swelling, inflammation, or sore joints? If yes, then it is not the diet but the acronym.  If no, then perhaps her doctor did mean her to eat rice.  Will you ever know for sure?  HaHaHa.” 

Jay: “Might even be funnier than that …  she had diarrhea in a bad way for nearly 6 weeks!  Bananas and rice was  prescribed.” 

Me: “I am almost falling off the chair….definitely the diet​…bananas and rice for diarrhea!” 

Out of curiosity, I look up R.I.C. E. on the internet. I finished falling off my chair as in the middle of explaining the first aid procedure the next heading in the stream was varieties of rice;  It informed me that in the US long grain rice is used for boiling, quick cook products and soup; short grain for cereals, baby food, beer and liquors.

This was followed immediately by ‘do not put ice directly on the skin’  then without skipping a beat or establishing a discernible logical connection the next heading was Inflammation fighting foods  which did NOT include rice but had broccoli and wild caught salmon in the mix. I thought, here is a complete dinner and was feeling quite full and drunk too from the long grain liquor when I was suddenly brought back on topic by the next heading: what is rice used for in first aid and was back to athletic injuries and the formula. 

You just cannot make up stuff like this.

The Meander:  Our intrepid Jim has suggested Jay and I do a skit or work on a routine for You Tube. Jay is wondering if my rice formula is holistic. I want to know if the bananas and rice is served as a smoothie.  We are all having fun with this….that’s GOOD!

 

Caregivers are nurturers in reverse

Caregivers are nurturers in reverse.

Think about the euphoria when your baby  was born.  You held the tiny mewling human being with love and tenderness and you started to plan and to envision a future full of hope and dreams.

This life is entrusted to you, to care for, to direct, to teach all that is necessary to provide a foundation for a life yet to be lived.  You could be holding the next Prime Minister/doctor/teacher/entrepreneur. The possibilities are endless.  You try to conjure up the passages of life: Graduation, marriage, children, success in whatever they choose to do in their life.

Now consider dementia.  You have achieved so much.  You have the children, have enjoyed a satisfying career, have made a name for yourself as a businessman, have loved what you did as work or study.  You have enjoyed pleasures untold, participated in events that are uplifting, awe inspiring. You have lived.  Then comes dementia.

As a caregiver you are given this awesome task to begin  the nurturing process again. To teach, to train, to protect, to guide, and to do the things that you did as you cared for your child.  You remember how to kiss away the hurt.  You plan your life to be there, always there.  You live in two realities.  You think and see and hear and plan and live for two.

When your child is born you look forward with hope and joy.  When your loved one has dementia you look forward with trepidation.  Your child is a beginning.  Your loved with dementia is an ending. You have the complete responsibility for both.  You anticipate the next step with both.  Your parental and caring skills are in high demand for both. The difference is that one was your child, the other is your husband, partner, mother, father, sister, brother, friend. You try to process that and realize the full extent of the chasm that  yawns between the dreams for your child and the imagined nightmare from this time forward.

Those stages you anticipated with love is a progression with your child that you see through 18 years or more.  Your loved one also exhibits stages of progression of dementia which you could be living through for 18 years or more – still with love.

The Meander:  Acknowledging the reality is the first step to coping.  Then look in  your loved ones eyes. See the absolute trust they have in you. Know that absolute trust brings absolute responsibility.  You are their world. Know that you are the most loved person in the world. Awesome.