Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lot's Soup

I have decided that the slings and arrows of life aimed at other people can have a direct effect on my own. Several weeks ago, T-ma fell in her room upstairs, breaking her hip, the femur, just below the ball joint. The medical team suggested that there were three possibilities: first, they could glue and staple the bone back together and wait six months for the bone to mend; second, they could perform a hip replacement, after which T-ma could be up and about within 48 hours; or third, they could stick her out in a nearby snowbank and let nature take its course. I love it when physicians make the choices that they want so clear to the people they are talking to. There is a kind of mental and emotional manipulation going on here that suits these fellows to a tee (or tea, depending on which side of the pond you are from). T-ma thought the snowbank sounded fine; Trillium suggested that the hip replacement had appeal; and I pretended to be mute.

Visiting people in the hospital has almost always given me the willies. I don't like the places in general, and the outfit wherein the operation on T-ma was performed didn't do much for me either. I am not convinced that hospitals are anything more than a vast repository of microbes and viruses waiting to descend upon and invade the bodies of anyone coming for services or those who are visiting those who have already been served. I mentally (and quite possibly physically) cringe every time I pass through the doors of a hospital.

After a few days of recovery, T-ma was sent off to The Shire, a local rehabilitation center where she could receive physical therapy on a daily basis, so that she could one day return to the Mount Kilimanjaro that is our house (we have nothing but stairs). Medicare volunteered to pay for twenty days in The Shire, figuring that in that time she would be fully healed. During the twenty calendar days that she has been there, six of them were weekends, meaning that she received no therapy on those days. This left 14 days of therapy in order to bring about total recovery. In the beginning there seemed to be some confusion as to whether or not there should be any stair-practice, a curious development inasmuch as that particular skill is absolutely vital on Mount Kilimanjaro. Eventually the doctors said that stair therapy should be part of the mix. One attempt at walking the stairs was made; great protestations were heard; and stair therapy became passe. One day I took the opportunity (as a good son-in-law) to chat with Tiny Tim, The Shire therapist. I found him in the tulip garden attempting to tip-toe around answering my questions directly.

"Well, she complained about about the stairs. There were too many of them [six]. There were just as many going up as there were going down [again six]. And when I suggested that she had to do this twice a day, she hit me with her walker."

"Well, Tiny Tim, she is 86..."

"At least that explains why she hit me with the walker that many times. Do you think she was trying to make a point?"

"No doubt." I then suggested that she might be ready to try again. She had said as much to me a few minutes before. Tiny Tim visibly winced, but promised that he would attempt another session with her that involved (gasp!) the The Shire Stairs. I don't think he has, as yet, broached the subject directly.

Other than the fact that I have usually attended Trillium in her daily jaunts to the hospital and The Shire, I have been affected in another way. For a couple of weeks we made it our practice to visit T-ma in the late afternoon, about four or so. Leaving The Shire about five-thirty meant that we would have to race home and quickly throw a meal together (when I say "we" I really mean "she"). I decided that I should be gallant and offer to take us out to eat somewhere. Trillium agreed. We have now visited every fast-food slinging establishment in the valley, along with a few other places that we had long ago dismissed as being the poster children for the County Health Department. I cannot imagine that this has been good for my ferritin count. I am actually beginning to lose the svelte lines of my youthful 66 year-old well-toned body and am starting to look like a spokesman for a Michelin Tire Commercial.

Christmas day we went up to The Shire to visit T-ma. We went around noon since none of our children could pull themselves away from their happy hearths to visit the tropical depression at Mount Kilimanjaro (that is a little unfair, since most of them showed up in the afternoon, notwithstanding the blizzard going on in Utah). We arrived just at lunch time as it turned out. Before we went into the dining room, T-ma regaled us with her adventures with The Shire cuisine during the previous four weeks. From her tone, I would have thought that the nutritionist (who shall remain Nameless) would be sporting about 86 lumps of one sort or another. One of the nurses said that since it was a light day, many of the inmates having been furloughed for Christmas, we could eat lunch with T-ma. I thought to myself, "Well, here we will find out the truth of the matter. I will know for myself, just how petulant my mother-in-law really is".

The main course was a chicken Caesar salad, the chicken was hot and redolent with lemon-pepper seasoning. I thought it a little strong to my taste and thought to chase it down with a glass of red punch that was on the table.... (eeeek!) .... (gaaasp!) ..... (I am at a loss for words). I believe that that concoction destroyed 9,345,294,567 of my brain cells in about 2.576 nano-seconds. I switched to water. The second course arrived shortly thereafter. Soup, a kind of green sludge with assorted colorful flakes floating about in it. A lady in back of me was served before we were and immediately broke in to a tearful fit about the soup, that it burned her mouth, that she needed baby food, and a dozen other such exclamations.

"She's such a whiner," T-ma said. "All day and all night. You'd think she was lying in a snowbank somewhere." About that same moment, our soup arrived. "Oh, my heck!" shouted T-ma as she took a spoonful, "This stuff is battery acid laced with salt. Here Zaphod; you can shovel this down," she said as she pushed the bowl in my direction.

"I have my own, T-ma. Thank you very much anyway," I sweetly replied, pushing the bowl back in her direction. I then demurely sipped my first spoonful from my own bowl and nearly gagged. I almost shouted out, "Oh, my heck! This stuff is battery acid laced with salt," but I did not care to validate my mother-in-law's assessment of the products of The Shire's lumpy chef. In order to be as supportive of the healing process as I possibly could, I consumed the entire bowl of soup with a bit of flourish, hoping that the salt would somehow ameliorate the torrent of iron consumption that had been going on in my life since T-ma had been incarcerated. I could not think of any other reason why I should slurp it down.

Salt causes iron to erode away. That is why we go to the car wash frequently here in Orem. It only seems natural that consumption of vast amounts of salt would cause a reduction of ferritin levels. After spending seconds on the internet, Googling the connection between hemochromatosis and high-sodium diets, I found nothing conclusive that would verify my hypothesis. There appears to be an open field here, one that suggests that someone with an entrepreneurial spirit could become independently wealthy in a few short weeks if they could only make that scientific connection between salt and iron. My ambitions are somewhat more modest. I asked the chef for the recipe for the soup. I have copyrighted that recipe as "Lot's Soup"; that's the ticket! When the break-through comes, I will be ready with the cure.

By the bye. When I have some sort of an injury or illness that might require a stay in the hospital or a rehab center, just stuff me in a snowbank somewhere. Everyone will be happier for it.


shydandelion said...

It's like the eskimos I guess. Put the old people on an iceberg, douse them with some barbeque sauce and a parsley garnish and let the polar bears do their thing. Don't worry, Dad! I am sure my siblings and I will agree to stuff you in one of our home's corners with a pile of semi-trashy sci-fi novels with a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. We will periodically spray you down with water so you don't smell. :D

Bliss said...

Hilarious! Thanks for the "therapy" (psychologically speaking)!

Davola said...

I know a taxidermist that might be able to help, you can hang at my house for the next 50 to 60 years!!

Judie said...

I can truly sympathize with your mother-in-law. After spending four sessions at the VA rehab hospital in the last year and trying to eat their food, I lost 12pounds each time. I finally settled on cottage cheese and fruit. At least I got some protein without eating the "beef".
Therapy is hard, but if you do it right it gets the job done. All major joints from the waist down are now metal, but unless I tell someone they don't know. Hang in there Paul, I love you and miss you.

Larsens said...

Old age bites!