Tag Archives: stroke

Ups and Downs

14 Aug

Closeup of Sargent pie

Apple Pie

How can it be so long since I have written?  It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by!  But to be honest, these past few months have been among the hardest of my life.

What that means is that my grand plan to figure out a way to “take care of my Dad” as he was on the road to recovering from his stroke has not been what I envisioned.  On the plus side, I have been able to get him some great medical help.   I’d heard from many folks that we have  good resources here in the Rogue Valley and have found some WONDERFUL health care professionals to assist with his many needs. To begin, I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. John Sager for he has been a tremendous help to us both.

Dad has also been fortunate to be able to work with therapists like Brandon and Marilka from Providence Hospital and they have helped him to gain some strength back (and though I did bring them a pie for their kind efforts but have no photo to show!).

Lastly, my friend Barb Street has patiently worked to select hearing aids that would help my Dad hear.   Like many folks that grew up in the Depression era, my Dad is very careful with his money.  For years he has tried to “make-do” with “hand-me-down” hearing aids but they never worked.   Last week Dad was fitted with a brand new pair that fit his ears perfectly and he could hear me when I spoke normally (not shouting).   It was amazing!

That said, I don’t know what to do next.  Dad has moved into a senior living environment for a short stay so that I can work on some catering projects but I can tell that he his not happy.   And why would he be?  His life has changed in so many ways and his daughter seems to be “bossing” him around.   Stay tuned as the journey continues….

Jonah's gluten free cake

Gluten-Free Wedding Cake

Through all of this, I want to tell you that one of the activities that has kept me grounded has been baking… such as the pie for Brandon and Marilka… and a gluten-free wedding cake for my friend Judith Anne’s son.  I’ve also experimented with a gluten-free/vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe from Babycakes and it is DELICIOUS!!!  (Please try them as soon as you get the chance… you won’t be sorry!)

Finally, yesterday I decided to bring a pie to the Sargent family of Buckhorn Springs.  This weekend, their daughter Lauren is getting married and I am spending this week helping to cater her wedding.  I wanted to thank them for putting their trust in me and allowing me to be a part of this very special time in their lives.

Sargent family pie

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook  — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.”  Julia Child

Chocolate Cream Pie, Travel Woes, and Virtual Pies for a few Angels

21 Apr

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie

As you know, I have spent the last three weeks in Florida with my Dad after he suffered a “major” stroke.  At first it seemed that my Dad would have surgery almost immediately to clear his carotid artery, but the doctors have decided that they would like to give my Dad more time to heal and so his surgery has been postponed until mid-May.  And since my Dad’s condition appears to be improving each day, and because I had committed to a few catering events, and because I missed my husband, I decided to come back home for a while.

In the days before I left, I tried to wrap up all the loose ends for my Dad that I could: arranging for the payment of bills, handling of laundry and mail, and most importantly, his health concerns and future care.   One thing that I considered tremendously important was to convey to the nurses and aides that I want (more likely need) them to watch over my Dad when I am not there to do so.   How could I do that?  Well, being me, I thought a pie might do the trick.

My nephew Wayne and I shopped for the ingredients after we had put my Dad to bed one night and two days before I left Florida I brought a chocolate cream pie to the nurses in my Dad’s wing.   They smiled and thanked me but I felt that something was wrong.  And after thinking about it, the best explanation I have is that those nurses don’t know me at all; they certainly don’t know, or care, about my pie blog and they just might not trust food from a stranger.  And though I truly hope this isn’t true, I don’t believe that the nurses ate one bite of that pie.

In retrospect, I understand; why should they trust me? Perhaps I should have just bought another pizza, but the “pie lady” in me wanted to show my gratitude with a pie that I had made.   And it was an experience making a pie without my usual accoutrements (cuisinart, pastry bag and tips, etc) but I figured it out and was proud of the final product… and even if the pie wasn’t eaten, it was given in the spirit of gratitude, and that’s all that matters.

On the day that I left, I arrived at the airport and was told that my flight was cancelled.   Thus began a 33 hour odyssey to get back to southern Oregon.  I’ll spare you the details here, but will mention that I spent time in six different cities before I arrived home (including catching a late night nap in a major west coast city).  What I do want to share is that I met three lovely people (angels?) on my journey… each of whom had a parent who had suffered a stroke.

The first was a man that I met in Fort Lauderdale who had just lost his Mom. His name was Steve and we spent an hour or so (our flight was delayed) talking about our kids, our parents, and this crazy system we call “health care.”

The next angel I met, was a lady named Connie.  She was my seat mate for a few hours and as we talked (and prayed during the most turbulent parts of the flight) she told me about losing both of her parents.  She knew the path I was traveling and was willing to listen to me as I rambled on;  she was a great comfort simply by being there.

The last angel I met was a man named Matt.  He was born in London but now lives in northern California.  We struck up a conversation as we watched our flight time change over and over.  His Dad suffered a stroke 18 years ago and has survived; unfortunately, their relationship has not.  What was most amazing about Matt was that when we realized that I was not going to make my last connecting flight, he offered to take me home and introduce me to his wife and child so I would not have to spend the night in the airport.

Tonight, I am deeply grateful that my Dad survived his stroke… and also very grateful to those people who I met along my journey home.  I wish that I could give each of them a pie… but because I cannot, I hope that my sincerest thanks will do.  Each of them has reinforced my faith in humanity… and that is an amazing gift.

It  is by suffering that human beings become angels.
Victor  Hugo

A Stroke is Clearly Out of my Control

28 Mar

Honey Almond Pie

 

Honey Almond Pie

There are times when we think that we are in control of our lives (for the most part anyway) and then something comes to remind us what an illusion that is.  I was reminded of the truth last Saturday.  My cell phone rang with a number that I didn’t recognize though I did determine it was from a Florida area code.  The call was from my Dad’s girlfriend, Eileen.  She called to say that my Dad had had a stroke and that he was in the hospital.  Eileen did her best to paint a positive scenario, but I knew that I would be heading to Florida very soon.

There was one issue that I had and that was how to get back in time for an event that I was to cater for my dear friend Ken in two weeks.  At first I thought, “I can still handle this” because I didn’t want to create any problems for Ken (clearly I have not dealt with anyone having a stroke before).  Just as I was considering what to do, Ken called me and asked casually, “How are you doing?”  When I told him what was going on, without hesitating a moment he said, “Go and take care of your Dad… we will figure this out.”   The permission Ken gave me to let go and focus was tremendous and greatly appreciated.  (I told you he was a dear friend).

Before I took a red-eye flight out of town, I had a few hours and “needed” to feel in control of something and so I baked a pie for Ken to thank him for his compassion and understanding.   Now if I may, I’d like to ask for healing prayers for my Dad.  And if you have any experience with strokes… please share that if you can.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Day 254: Remembering Irene

16 Dec

When we moved to Portland, my daughter Alexandra was just about two. We lived in an apartment in a residential neighborhood in the southeast section of the city. Behind our apartment was a house where Irene and Victor lived and occasionally we would see them out in their garden in the evening. One day I went out into our very small backyard with Alex and Irene came over to the fence to meet us. While we were chatting, Victor walked over to the fence carrying a tomato he had just picked. He was looking at Alex and me when suddenly Irene said “Victor, give her that tomato!” I could tell by the look on his face that Victor was confused. He must have been thinking, “I thought I just picked that tomato from my garden” but yet there was Irene telling him to give it to Alex. In any case, that was the day our friendship with Irene and Victor began.

When I met Irene she was 86 years old… and I knew her until she died at nearly 104. My own mother had died just two years before we met, and Irene helped to fill the empty place in my heart almost immediately. Often I would get up early before my husband left for work and go over to Irene’s in my pajamas and have a cup of coffee with her and Victor. He was a year or two older than Irene and had already had a stroke by the time I met him. This sometimes affected his speech but not his spirit.

One really interesting fact about Irene and Victor is that they were both married to other people for nearly 50 years before they were married. What surprised me is how much they loved and appreciated each other – as if they had waited all those years for true love to come along – and it finally did!

I caught a glimpse of that bond as I sat with them one morning. Irene was telling a story when suddenly Victor tried to say something. When he was excited he could not speak, because of the stroke, and was making sounds like “ba ba ba” as he tried to tell her what was on his mind. Irene calmly looked at him and said, “You are remembering about your brother… and continued on with what she knew Victor was trying to say. When I looked back at Victor he was nodding, tears streaming down his face, because she was right. Of course by then tears were streaming down my face as well because I had witnessed this tender moment.

Today I was thinking about Irene and missing her and thought I would bring a pie to Irene’s niece, Shirley. Though I’d never been to her house, I just took a chance that she would be home… and I was lucky because she was. We sat and talked for a while and I learned that she has recently been through a very difficult time. And then she told me that tomorrow she and her husband will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. How fortunate that I was able to bring a pie in time to celebrate that amazing milestone. It was when I was driving home that I wondered if perhaps Irene had been whispering in my ear to go and visit her niece and send her love. At least I’d like to think it could have had something to do with her.

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