Tag Archives: Health

Courage at Twilight: Practicing Balance

“I can’t walk!” Dad began as the home health case manager began his three-hour assessment. I felt proud of Dad for facing forcefully the reality of his condition.  “And I’m going downhill fast.”  Weston listened to everything Dad had to say as he inquired about every aspect of Dad’s health, from medications and mental health and mobility to bowels and balance.  He invited Dad to stand up from his kitchen chair, which required all Dad’s strength and induced level-8 pain in his legs.  “One gets to the point,” Dad explained, “where the pain induces one to not get up from the chair.  But I’m still getting up.”  Weston invited Dad to walk from the kitchen to his living room reading chair, using his cane and the kitchen counters and the piano top to surf to his destination and to point and fall in his chair.  Medical professionals measure balance on a 25-point scale, with 25 being the ideal, and, say, 9 being very concerning.  “The goal is not to get you to the ideal of 25,” Weston explained, “but to get you to from 9 to 10, or 12, or 15, to achieve improvement.  Improved balance always leads to increased safety.”  Dad was not confident he could improve, but promised to give it a try, to do whatever works.  I have talked often with my children about improving their life balance, between work, school, church, play, social life, health, exercise, nutrition, and family, and that our balance shifts constantly with our life changes.  I balanced my life as well as I knew how when I felt utterly crushed by work and responsibility and church and duty and sickness and keeping food on the table and clothes on their little backs and the bills paid.  And at times I teetered and did not balance well.  But not for lack of effort: I worked at balance, practiced it, and grew and strengthened and improved.  So, I teach them today about balance.  Weston taught Dad how to practice and improve his balance by standing in the corner against the walls of a room, with a walker in front, and letting go of both the walls and the walker for seconds at a time, seconds of being supported by nothing but his own balanced strength, knowing he could lean onto the walls or into the walker, wheels braked of course.

(Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay)

Courage at Twilight: My Enormous Salads

While I love to cook and eat an exotic French meal, I often opt for a salad for dinner.  The raw vegetables are good for my gut.  But mine is no ordinary salad.  Dad says my salads are the most gorgeous salads ever made.  Of course, I use the standard lettuce, celery, cucumber, carrot, and tomato.  Then I add diced apples, raisins, roasted mixed nuts, avocado, slices of hard-boiled egg, and ground flax.  (I leave out bell peppers and onions.)  Toss it all with salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and I have a wonderful (and large) bowl of salad for dinner.  I always make extra, offering some to Mom and Dad.  I even prefer this tasty salad over a good burger and fries.  It is so full of wonderful complementary colors, flavors, and textures.  I can eat as much of it as I want.  And after eating, I don’t feel like I have swallowed a hamburger bowling ball.


(Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay)

Courage at Twilight: Visit to the Dentist

Mom and Dad drove themselves to the dentist office for their annual checkups and cleanings. They came home happy to report that they had no cavities or other problems.  Dad’s first visit to the dentist was at age 15, circa 1951, by which time several teeth were in bad shape.  His mother sent him to the dentist with a $5 bill, which the dentist took, along with four teeth.  “Going to the dentist was a luxury,” he explained, a luxury his single mother, emptying waste baskets at night in the Kearns Building downtown Salt Lake City, could not afford.  More than a decade later, when he had a job and dental insurance, “Doc” Nicholas made bridges to fill the gaps—implants weren’t a thing.  Mom took her first trip to the dentist at age seven, by which time she had several large cavities to be filled.  She remembers the agony of the dentist grinding for what seemed forever with a slow rotary tool, and no Novocain.  She had to just sit there, a prisoner in the chair, and suffer through it—what was the alternative?  Thereafter, Mom was taken to dear Uncle Harvey, a new dentist who always smiled and laughed and made you feel good about life.  Today, Mom and Dad came home cavity-free and in good spirits.  Mom reported how kind the hygienist staff were on this visit.  “Sometimes they just jab you, and it hurts, but my hygienist today was so nice and gentle.”  Next month it is my turn to see the dreaded dentist.  I wish “Doc” were still around.


(Image from Pinterest.  Used pursuant to the Fair Use doctrine.)

Courage at Twilight: Waiting to See the Urologist

Mom received a letter that Dad’s urologist had retired, and to call for an appointment with the new urologist.  She called in July for an appointment in September.  Arriving home late from work, I saw immediately how exhausted Mom and Dad both were after their appointment.  They told me they had waited for over an hour to be seen by the doctor.  I felt immediately furious that people who were old and feeble and sick were made to wait an hour past their scheduled time.  The exertion of waiting, compounding the exertion of getting to and from the office, left them spent and sick.  I sent a complaint to the practice, telling them it is negligent to make such patients wait so long to be seen, the wait itself worsening their conditions.  I have prevailed upon Mom to make future appointments for a day and time when I can take them.  I am going to have to demand they be seen promptly and not made to wait.  Being fragile, the last thing they need is the irony of their care providers jeopardizing their patients by leaving them waiting in exhaustion for their care.  I am curious to see if the practice will be defensive or will acknowledge they could have and should have done better, and will do better next time.  Fortunately, the care they finally received was acceptable.  And a next time may not be necessary.  The doctor said to Dad, “Look, you’re 86.  If you don’t have prostate cancer by now, you never will.  You don’t need to see me again unless something changes.”  He renewed Dad’s prescription in perpetuity.  True to their character, Mom and Dad did not complain but graciously accepted the blessing of that being Dad’s last visit to the urologist.