Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Memory: Starting Over.

Michael Sedano

Starting Over

Just so everyone knows, dementia-related residential care is not a one-way proposition colored by Finality. That’s what I sensed when I had to find care for my Alzheimer’s dementia-afflicted wife. I’d lost use of both shoulders and she no longer walked with control. One time she fell and I could not assist. She crawled to the bedframe and pulled herself up. It was 2 in the morning. She wasn’t sleeping. Nor was I. Then she stumbled but didn’t fall. I watched helplessly again.

I sought assisted living for her. After surveying a number of institutions, I settled on the one closest to the house. “Alzheimer’s” on her neurologist’s diagnosis closed the door to assisted living. Instead of her own apartment in a senior community, she was offered “memory care.” A space behind a locked door where severely disabled souls wander the halls or lie in the dark until roused for organized socializing.

Barbara entered that world far more able-bodied than those poor women and a few men. Alzheimer’s is a “progressive disease,” these people are our future, ten twelve years from now when we have progressed beyond reason. She was unhappy in that place. I was perpetually unnerved. "P'alla va la sombra" my Dad used to say.

One morning she phoned. “I can’t walk. It hurts too much.” She lived five minutes away and I drove her to the hospital where an orthopedic surgeon fixed her infected hip and for a week the hospital cared for her.

Skilled Nursing Care had to be her next step, after surgery. Wound care and P.T. consumed the caregivers. Barbara received individualized care and attention despite the chaotic hubbub of the 50-bed nursing home. Mission Care in Rosemead is amazing for its people and responsiveness.

Five weeks at Mission Care, Barbara’s health rebounded. Energy and alertness returned to my wife’s everyday self. The Social Worker phoned, she’s ready to be discharged.

I laid a deposit at another place for Barbara. She wouldn’t have to return to that near-by place where she was unhappy. By the way, these senior living places create a false urgency, "I have only one unit that might be available in a few weeks" when Jill dies. There are lots of places and each has lots of rooms to rent.

All the while I’ve been working to regain my shoulders and they’re back. I can lift and lever considerable weight on an exercise machine and I can suspend my weight on my shoulders for several seconds’ duration. It’s called The Plank, like a push-up without the groaning.

UTI. That’s the name of the enemy of older women and of dementia-afflicted women. Urinary Tract Infection. When that crap gets into the patient’s bloodstream and feeds into the struggling brain, Alzheimer’s symptoms not only exacerbate, the infection introduces new behaviors, hallucinations particularly, that break a husband’s or daughter’s heart. For a while there, Barbara no longer knew who I am, and we’ve been married 51 years.

Experimental Attitude Without Fotos

“I didn’t know any other Vibianas, and then I found another Vibiana, and I love her book.” In the world of Chicano Literature and Chicana writers, there aren’t that many Vibianas, so I knew the book Vibiana enthused about. I’m even thanked in that book, Mi Amor, by Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin. I read an early draft.

Let’s have brunch, las dos Vibianas at Casa Sedano, I suggested. They can talk about the book and meet another Vibiana, with "V" not "B" Vibiana.

So we planned it, calendared it. When the nursing home told me I could have Barbara back so come get her, I went and got her. She came home in time for the brunch. I converted our literary chat into an impromptu welcome home brunch for the long-absent Barbara. 

It was cool. She came home to a normal day and stepped right in without missing a step. Chatted, ate all her food, lived in the moment like the others.

Champagne and Eggs Benedict are de rigueur for literary chats as well as impromptu welcome home brunches, so I was ready. The Gluten-free Chicano provided muffins for the two Vibianas and Barbara. 

The real treat was the unveiling of the Gluten-free Chicano’s microwave hollandaise sauce. Here’s a quick description for cooks with an experimental attitude. Few foods say “the holidays” better than tamales or hollandaise sauce, so El G-f Chicas patas will document the hollandaise process in a foto essay soon.

Barbara, Vibiana, Michael, Vibiana

The Gluten-free Chicano’s Mi Casa es Su Casa but Mi Microondas Is not Your Microondas Hollandaise Sauce

¾ stick butter
8 egg yolks
2 limes or 1 lemon, juiced.
Tabasco sauce
Black pepper
Boiling water
Large glass measuring cup

Have everything at room temperature. You can separate the eggs the night before. Take them out of the refrigerator an hour early.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on lowest flame then put it aside. Add the citrus juice and tabasco, a pinch of salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Taste the butter, make sure it’s showing off that lemon.

Boil 2 cups water and pour into the large glass measuring cup to get the glass hot. Reserve the water and dry the measuring cup.

Put the yolks in the hot glass measuring cup and stir the yolks into a homogeneous colored soup. Stir in a tablespoon of hot water.

Rapidly stir the hot butter-lime mix into the yolks.
This is the complicated step for classic Hollandaise sauce. Using a double-boiler, whip that butter slowly into the yolks and observe it thicken to a mayonnaise-like paste. Too much heat and you scramble the eggs, not enough and it doesn't thicken.

The microondas cooks the eggs lickety-split so cook in 5 to 8 second increments. Remember, the heat builds after coming out of the radiation chamber. Keep stirring and the sauce thickens. After two or three batches you’ll know your microwave and the right duration.

Cover the vessel with a plate or stretch wrap. Run the micro for 8 seconds and stir. Give it another 8 seconds and stir.

If your sauce got too thick on the second heating, stir in a teaspoon of hot water and the sauce will smoothen. If worst comes to worst, you have lemony scrambled eggs. Use more hot water next time, and shorter increments.

Microwave ovens vary wildly in power and performance. Experiment with half-batches of 4 yolks and 1/3 stick of butter. Always add lots of lemon or lime. The Gluten-free Chicano likes a hollandaise that bites lightly from tabasco and sparkles with the bright acidity of fresh citrus.


Lisa Alvarado said...

"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make."

sramosobriant said...

Barbara looks happy.

Concepcion said...

What a joyous turn of things! Welcome home, Barbara! An elegant brunch set out by your hubby and literary Vivianas as guests! Delightful!