My Dad is Home, Now for the Hard Part

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter (@davidbenj) or Facebook (facebook.com/davidbenj) you might not know what I’ve been up to the last few weeks. You may also be wondering why I haven’t updated my blog since Father’s Day. Here’s the story, and like my previous blog post it has to do with my dad.

On 30 June my dad fell and broke the fourth cervical vertebrae. He also sustained some wicked cuts on his forehead and the bridge of his nose. The doctors also thought he had a concussion. For the first 12 days, he was in the hospital, then he moved to a skilled nursing facility so he could do physical therapy. It has been difficult on all of us. Eliz, my mom, and I have spent many hours at the hospital and skilled nursing facility. At least one of us was with him from around 10.00am until 8.00pm. Some days a little more and a couple days a little less. Eliz has spent more time in the car, ferrying my mom to the hospital in the morning and taking her home at the end of the day. We’ve put about 1300 miles on the car since my dad entered the hospital, which is about 35% above what we normally average for a time period.

For the first week, my dad had a very restricting cervical collar and was unable to eat or drink. Even swallowing was extremely difficult. Once he received his current collar, he began eating and drinking again. Anything he eats has to be soft or pureed. Let me tell you, pureed lasagna is not pretty. Liquids have to be thickened. At the hospital and skilled nursing facility, this, of course, was all prepared for him.

My dad was discharged from the skilled nursing facility yesterday and all of us were happy, though my dad was a bit worried. “Who’s going to do all of the things the nurses did for me?” he asked. My mom told him she would. Eliz and I lend a hand too.

The toughest part is the food. Everything has to be pureed. Unfortunately, the normal food isn’t that great at Maris Grove, so my parents didn’t want to pay extra to have “special” food brought in for my dad. So my mom gives Eliz and I a list and we go to the market for her. I’m pretty sure I’d be living on fruit smoothies and protein drinks, because things like pureed chicken just aren’t appetizing to me. We also help my dad walk around the apartment, though with each passing day he is relying on us a little less. Today, he walked from the den to the kitchen, rinsed out a glass and then walked into the bedroom. He never called for my mom to help him. The physical therapist said he shouldn’t walk without having someone close by.

We only spent a couple of hours with my parents today after running to Fresh Market and Acme for them. My dad was in good shape today and seems to be getting stronger everyday. My mom is happy that he is home and doesn’t mind blending everything. Now I’m looking for a Super Bass-O-Matic 76…

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Father’s Day

Me & my dad at dinner today.

Me & my dad at dinner today.

We had a very busy Father’s Day. We went to Outback at 11.10am for lunch with Eliz’s father, mother, her sister Margaret, and our niece Meghan. Yes, I said 11.10am. More like brunch, I guess. I have to say that is by far the earliest I have ever eaten a Bloomin’ Onion. It is also the only time I’ve seen Outback less then 90% full.

After an enjoyable meal, we came home to make peanut brittle. That is our gift of choice to both our dads. They both like it and it isn’t too difficult to make. Eliz does the majority of the work, measuring, watching the temp, etc. I pretty much am the designated stirrer. I stir it frequently from 225 degrees up to 280. At 280, the peanuts go in and it’s got to be stirred constantly until it hits 305. Once the peanuts go in, it is a nice workout. At 305, it comes off the heat and vanilla and baking soda are added. I stir it vigorously for a minute or two and then Eliz dumps it on the table (onto parchment paper and towels) and spreads it out. The whole process takes about an hour and a half.

My biggest contribution comes when I sample the product. It takes about 40 minutes to cool enough to break into smaller pieces. I usually start sampling about 10 minutes after it’s been spread onto the table and every five to 10 minutes there after… Today, we were heading to my parents between 3.30pm and 4.00pm, so we had to “make sure” it wasn’t too warm to break up and stack it in a corning ware for the journey. We don’t want it to stick together… I also sample it along the way, just to make sure everything is good. Today, Jane helped sample.

When we arrived at my parents, they invited us to dinner. It is unusual for them to want to go out to eat. Well, it’s unusual for my dad. They like to go to Ruby’s Diner since it is across the street and fairly quick (as long as it’s not busy.) I wasn’t too hungry today after the big lunch at Outback and all the sampling I had to do. Eliz and the kids weren’t too hungry either, but my dad was okay with going out, so we went.

I had the Asian Chicken Salad. It had grilled chicken breast, lettuce, bell pepper, and wonton strips. The dressing was awful, the wonton strips seemed like stale tortillas, and ended up wearing honey mustard sauce and Oreo Fantasy milk shake that I tasted from Jane’s dinner. Even that couldn’t stop me from enjoying the meal.

I am 46 and my dad is 93. Eliz’s father will be 84 in October. We are both so fortunate that we can enjoy time with our fathers. It doesn’t matter what the food tastes like or how the service is.

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I Can’t See Very Well, But My Hearing is Still Good

We visited my parents today. We spent about an hour with them. After we left my parent’s apartment, we were walking down the hall where a couple was sitting. As we walked past, Eliz greeted them. We didn’t know them, but everyone there usually says ‘hello’ as you pass them by. After we were 15 or 20 feet down the hall, the guy says to the women, “Did you see that guy looking down?” He insinuated that I couldn’t be bothered to look up.

Generally, I walk behind Eliz in the halls there because they are a little narrow to walk side by side and I don’t want to walk into any one. I look down and concentrate on Eliz shoes so I don’t run into her. I’ve found in the past, if I look straight ahead, I run into her if she stops or slows down when there are other people in the hall that may be blocking our way.

That guy’s comments irritated me. Obviously, I look fairly normal, so there is no way he would know that I’ve got sight issues. He made the comments after he thought we were far enough away that we wouldn’t hear them. I heard them and didn’t appreciate them. Am I too sensitive? Probably. I try so hard to be normal that when someone makes a comment like that it gets under my skin.

This is my last post for 2010. Okay, stop cheering, there’ll be more in 2011. Jacob has gone to his friend Andrew’s for the night and Jane has a couple friends here to ring in 2011. Eliz and I have the Veuve Clicquot chilled and a couple of movies to watch. I’d like to wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011!

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