Saturday, August 16, 2014

Low-Carb: Getting through Luncheons and Other Group Meals

The first rule for following a low-carb diet when going to luncheons and other group outings is to assume there will be nothing there that you can eat. You'll usually be right and you'll come prepared. If it's a breakfast, eat before you go. If it's a luncheon, eat afterwards. Check the menu first if it's at a restaurant.

Most restaurants can offer something low-carb, but my carb-loving coworkers have a way of picking places and selecting buffets where there's absolutely nothing I can eat. (I'm carb intolerant and allergic to wheat.) Salad doesn't count as a meal. If I were more of a smart-aleck, I'd ask people who suggest salad if that's what they normally have for lunch and if so, whether they don't get hungry until dinner.

It's a problem when the meal is the entire point of the gathering or it comes in the middle of an event. This came up today--the buffet at the staff meeting had pasta, meatballs and salad. And here I thought the nineties were over. I went to McDonald's because a 20-calorie salad doesn't get me through the day no matter how much dressing I add. Some people find that socially awkward, but where are your acquaintances going to be when you're having an allergic reaction to something you ate? They won't be holding your hair back over the toilet or giving you Sudafed or regretting that nobody warned you, they'll be clucking that you should have had the salad.

The second rule is to prepare: eat breakfast before, eat lunch after, plan to fast, take some food you can eat, or find out where you can go nearby. Don't leave the house hungry--unless you know for a fact there will be food you can eat, assume there won't be. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Controlling TMJ Pain; Fixing a Wheelchair Controller

The roaming pain should have been my first clue that my mouth wasn't hurting from newly replaced fillings. As soon as I realized it was TMJ pain, I followed advice from old TV ads for pain pills: "Take at the first sign of pain." They were right--nip it in the bud and tension can't turn into spasms, which turn into pain, which turns into more tension. All I've taken is aspirin and ibuprofin. I've also avoided long practice sessions playing the recorder. (I could say I'm a purist about playing baroque music, but truth to tell, a clarinet is really hard to play. I've tried.) I also avoid coffee when it bothers me, which is as intermittent as my TMJ pain.

My parents are still roped in red tape and I have nothing but nail clippers and a screwdriver. Since their credit union wouldn't accept their power of attorney, I whipped up a new one and brought a notary public to their nursing home.

Even with some practice, my mother couldn't drive her new wheelchair: the joystick has right and left reversed and she can't get used to it. Tonight I had the idea to flip it over so that the joystick is facing downward and right and left aren't flipped. We'll see how Mom does with it. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Eldercare: Almost It's Over!

How did things go so far downhill so fast?

A month ago, I wasn't thinking about my parents going to a nursing home and selling almost all their belongings. But kidney failure put my mother in the hospital and an accident put my father there, too, a few weeks ago. They've since improved and now they're both at a rehab center. Their dog has moved in with me.

Mom and Dad were in the same room, but they had to move my father because he called out for my mother all night and she couldn't get any sleep. Now he calls out to her from the room across the hall. He stops if I'm there--he calls out for me instead. At least my mother has the room to herself so she can learn to drive her new wheelchair, the one I found on Craigslist and bought from a guy at a storage unit way out in Longmont. When Mom said she found it hard to control, I bought a new joystick for it off Ebay.

Ebay wouldn't take my credit card--it said it had expired. It hadn't. The seller's website wouldn't take my address, even though I live in the US. I finally gave the seller my credit card number over the phone and got the joystick. I put the new joystick on her wheelchair the day after I got it, but Mom still can't drive it. This, from a woman who used to get around in a wheelchair that drove like a bumper car. I advised her to practice for a few hours.

Monday, I met with a man who does estate sales. He looked around my parents' house (after I'd taken out about 50 bags of papers and old toiletries) and said it would take him and his crew of six to eight people two weeks to set up. Most houses, he said, took a week to set up. Yes, I grew up in a (borderline) hoarder house. I've watched episodes of Clean House lately and wished the messy houses they show were all I had to deal with.

Among the papers I sorted were several unpaid bills. I take care of my parents' bills, but I can't take care of them if I don't see them. They're paid now, and now that my mother doesn't have to spend so much time taking care of Dad, she has time to deal with credit card companies and her credit union. The way her lawyer set up her power of attorney (with two co-successors) renders it useless with her credit union. She's putting me on her account and I've whipped up a new power of attorney form.

You'd think a nursing home would take care of all needs. Not so. I do my parents' laundry since nursing homes lose patients' clothes left and right; the last time, they sent Dad home with random clothes that weren't even his size and ended up writing me a check for clothing that I had bought for Dad a week earlier. Since both parents have lost weight, I bought them some new threads from Goodwill and ARC.

My mother's blood sugars have been running over 200 since she can't take metformin anymore. She can't control her blood sugar with food alone--I think the kidney failure scared her into being more strict about carbs than she had been. (The doctors said her kidney failure might have been caused by an antibiotic she reacted to.) So along with clean laundry, I brought her some Atkins bars and made sure she had enough coconut oil.

My next project is to scan her photos and letters onto her laptop and send the originals to her sister, who has volunteered to act as curator. (I bought a laptop cable so the laptop doesn't go the way of my Dad's clothes.) If Mom ends up with one more thing that needs to be taken to the post office, she's on her own.

Helping my parents isn't all I've been doing: I got three fillings replaced a few days ago. Between that and having revived my habit of grinding my teeth at night, my teeth have hurt for the past few days to the point that it's hard to eat. But I feel well enough to go to Engrish.com and have a good laugh without hurting myself. And now that things are becoming more stable, I tell myself, "almost it's over."