Four Weeks after Knee Replacement

July 16, 2020  mid-afternoon

Just a short post that the recovery from my knee replacement is going well.

After two weeks, I was no longer using the walker.  It just seemed to get in the way.  I never transitioned to a cane.  Just walking pretty well, although I have not been outside to walk a few blocks because we’re in a heatwave of 90-degree temperatures.  Instead, I tour the cul-de-sac on foot after the heat of the day, and every second round I stop by my mailbox to do some leg lifts/knee bends.

Physical therapy is going well.  I like my therapist, Dan.  He has a master’s degree, gives good instructions, demonstrates exercises, and he’s professional.  We seem to be of the same type:  Let’s get to work.  Not a lot of chitchat.

Dan was impressed that I was walking on my own after just two weeks, and I surprised him with my flexibility when I was asked to bend down to stretch.  The concern we both shared was the stiffness of the knee, so he recommended going back to icing and elevating for 30 minutes three times a day.  That has made a big difference and I feel like I’m making pretty good progress.

Here’s a photo of my 15-year-old cockapoo, Cinnamon, taken one day within the first two weeks when I was just icing the knee a bit.  His care and supervision were much appreciated.

Cinnamon and knee recovery June 2020

I look forward to getting permission to drive.  I see the surgeon in early August for a 6-week check-in.  Not that I’ll be going to many places or even shopping during these COVID times.  But once I can drive, then I can get back on a regular schedule of visiting Mom.  Her community will be opening up a bit for outside in-person visits with masks and social distancing in the courtyard.  Not sure how well that will work with the heat of July and August in Missouri, but I look forward to making an appointment to see her, bring her some flowers, and check in on her functioning.  No hugs or touching, so that will be difficult.


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Two Weeks After Knee Replacement: Doing Well

July 1, 2020, early morning

Looking Back

Things move along pretty quickly with knee replacement surgery, and my situation was no exception.

The surgery previous to mine ended early, so I was hustled along an hour earlier than scheduled.  I woke up in my room at 2 p.m.  I was home the next day by 2:30 p.m.

That was fine with me.  I’m not accustomed to being in a hospital, and in general, I dislike having to have any kind of medical procedure.  And the older I get, the crabbier I become.  Okay, I can get a bit bitchy.

My first act of rebellion was to divorce the compression sock.  I wore it in the hospital and wore it a few days at home.  Then it was killing me and I felt like the swelling was worse with the sock on.  Went online and read that after a week or so, some people don’t wear the sock to bed at night.  I tried that and my leg felt much better by morning.  After a consultation with the visiting nurse via phone, she finally said I could go ahead and not wear it if I felt better without it.  Done.  She was under the impression that I was to wear it until I saw the surgeon in six weeks.  Nope.  Not happening.


The pain medicines have been another issue: a blessing and a curse.  The pain is well controlled, and two weeks in, I’m not using it near as much as I was.  I won’t need a refill.  That said, I have had no appetite.  Nada.  Zilch. I have had to force myself to make a simple sandwich, cook some oatmeal, or boil an egg.  This will get better.

Important note:  If prescribed narcotic meds to control pain after surgery, make sure you have a bottle of Phillips Milk of Magnesia – liquid wild cherry on hand.  A different visiting nurse mentioned it the other day after we discussed the side effects of narcotic pain meds. It’s available everywhere. Yesterday I texted friend Lynette to please get me some.  Life is now more comfortable.


I’ve made good progress.  The visiting nurse has declared the current condition of the knee as “beautiful.”  I’ve been walking around my place without the walker and doing some house chores in-between times of elevation and icing of the knee.  At-home physical therapy began right away and I will now transition to therapy sessions at PEAK Performance.

Like most people, bending the knee and improving the range of motion is the most difficult part of this healing process for me. I have been dedicated to the exercises, despite my grumbling that it is unrealistic to expect a great deal of improvement with a range of motion during the first week.  The physical therapist who is starting me out with exercises at home does not seem pleased or interested in the fact that I, as usual, have done a bit of research about physical therapy for post knee surgery.  Once I told him that in 2017, the Mayo Clinic orthopedic department relaxed their expectations for a range of motion during the first few weeks, he became a bit defensive.

“Well, that’s fine if one wants to go through knee manipulation later … and then you’ll be where you are now.”

Kudos to me for keeping my mouth shut.  I just told myself, “I see this guy only one more time.  Then I move on to regular physical therapy sessions for about six weeks, and it’s THOSE folks who will come to understand that I am completely devoted to doing all required exercises to the point of discomfort, but not to the point of pain.  Period.

What brought me to this kind of thinking was a website I came across doing my research:  Bonesmart.  It hosts various forums for folks facing or recovering from hip, knee, and shoulder replacements.  I learned a lot reading through various information packets and reading posts from people and the replies they received.  The main thing I learned is that there are varying theories and practices concerning physical therapy for post knee replacement.  So I approach the next phase of physical therapy with a bit of caution.


My new physical therapist will come to understand that I am not a gymnast rushing to get back onto the beam.  I’m a grandma who wants to enjoy long walks again and garden without concern about my knee giving out.  I will do what I am told to the degree that it makes sense to me and does not cause a pain level that makes me wince.  There are some therapy practices I may refuse because I have read that they are controversial.

I expect to be living in pandemic quarantine for at least another year; thus, strong, steady progress is my goal.

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Have a Knee Replacement in the Middle of a Pandemic? Oh, Hell. Why Not?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I Could Have Blamed Chubby Checker

…but because it happened so long ago, I won’t.  I was a young teenager, home alone after school, listening to the radio, and all of a sudden I heard the song lyrics, “Let’s twist again like we did last summer.”

So I did.  Joyfully…skillfully…and with great enthusiasm.  I was totally in the moment when I lifted my left leg, had all my weight on my right leg, and made a big twist.

That’s when I heard what sounded like a giant knuckle crack.  That’s also when my knee began to swell to the size of a basketball.

At the ER, the fluid was drained from the knee (without anything to reduce the pain of that procedure, I might add).  I was given a brace, some crutches, instructions, and a doctor’s requirement for “modified PE” for several months.

And so I limped along toward recovery when I injured the knee again within the year.  Chubby Checker was not involved this time.  I think I just abruptly turned when most of my weight was supported by my right knee, and it was instant replay after that.

Six Decades Later

My severely arthritic right knee had a heart to heart talk with me this spring.

“Look.  I’ve had it.  I’ve kept you going through the disco era, decades of gardening, chasing after and frolicking at water parks with grand kids, a few minor tumbles down stairways, and near misses as you exited off ladders.  I’m done.  I need to retire and be replaced.  Get that appointment with Dr. Hockman.  I’m sure he’ll agree with me.  It’s time.”

So I did and Dr. Hockman agreed.  He will perform the total knee replacement tomorrow.


I’m actually pretty pumped about it.  I have read through all the materials the Columbia Orthopedic Group gave me, watched YouTube videos with explanations from surgeons and physical therapists, and I have a couple gal pals who have been through it.  In addition, I have a great team of pals in place to assist once I get home, which I hope will be Saturday at the latest.

Of course, I wish it could be simpler.

"Knee replacement? Can I have it replaced with chocolate?"

I’m glad I didn’t have to wait months.  With the pandemic going on, my goal is to be back at home before the current outbreak might worsen here in mid-Missouri (we’ve been lucky so far), and certainly before any possible “second wave” that might develop later.

Plus it’s not like my social calendar is filled with anything interesting these days.  A weekly yard gathering with gal pals, socially distanced and with favorite beverages in hand is it. We chat, laugh, and lament about world events.  It’s group therapy.  Free.

Ready and Optimistic

During a phone conversation several weeks ago, my son told me, “Mom, you won’t regret getting it done.”  Then my pen pal in New Mexico made the same comment a few weeks later.  My two gal pal knee replacement veterans have “no regrets,” and I’m convinced I won’t either.

I have an excellent surgeon lined up, a wonderful hospital, and I’m sure the whole team who tends to me in the days ahead will be great.


And those Pain Meds…

Three or four, I think.  Already at home, along with an elevated toilet seat, a reaching tool, and an ice pack wrap thingy.

A couple days ago I was reading instructions for the pain meds.  Take one…or two…every four hours.   Take one…or two…every six hours.  Take once a day.  Hmmm. Now that I’m not always of the sharpest mind, I decided to make a spreadsheet.  That way I’ll write down when I take what.  Thank you, Excel.

And…just as I was finishing up this post, the hospital called.  I’m to arrive there at 10 a.m. to check in.  (Yay! not at the crack of dawn.) Surgery will be at about noon and will take about 2-2 1/2 hours.

Then the hard work of recovery and rehab will begin.








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Parental Journal 110 from Planet Elderly: New Chatterbox Visit Setup with Mom

June 10, 2020 late morning


Chatterbox Setup

When I visited Mom Monday at 11, Lenoir Woods had a new setup for visiting called Chatterbox.  I don’t know if this is something circulating in care homes or if this is something that originated at Lenoir, but it was much nicer than visiting with mom through a screened window.

This is what it looks like:


20200608_104731 (1)

Visitors are screened with a survey and temperatures are taken.  We have a walkie-talkie thing we press when we speak and release when we want to hear the loved one speak.

I thought it was terrific and was delighted to see Mom recognize me when she was first brought to the area.  She said something about “my daughter” and “Jeanette,” and she smiled.

We had 15 minutes to visit and I did most of the talking.  She is quite good at responding to a conversation with little phrases, but her ability to form complete sentences is quite diminished.  She looked around at the surroundings and at one point started talking about her daughter.  I waved and she refocused.

When asked, she claims she is eating well, still sometimes stays up until 2 or 3 a.m. as the resident night owl, and appreciates the staff who work in her community.  “It’s really nice.”



I’ll have another chatterbox visit with her next Monday, but then won’t be able to visit for a few weeks because I’ll be recovering from knee replacement surgery.  I mentioned that to her and she said it was no problem.  Two minutes later she had no memory of my mentioning knee replacement surgery.  That’s fine.  Mom lives in the moment now…minute by minute…meal by meal…bite by bite.

When it was time to leave she told me it was nice of me to stop by.  We told each other, “I love you,” and I left with tears in my eyes.

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Parental Journal 109 from Planet Elderly: Pandemic Window Visit with Mom

Now I See You!

I was thrilled to receive an email from Lenoir Woods, Mom’s long term care community, inviting me to have a window visit with her.  We had had a Zoom visit, but this would be a wonderful opportunity to see her in person…or close enough.

I met Sam, the Assistant Director of Nursing, and she led me to a courtyard area where I could stand outside a window and Mom could be inside a conference room.  Mom’s week day CNA, Ken, was with her and held the phone for her.

Mom and Ken window visit 051720

Photo taken through screened window  1 p.m. May 17, 2020

It was wonderful to see her…and interesting.  She looked at me, smiled, responded a bit to some of my questions, told me she loved me when I told her I loved her, but for the most part she focused on Sam’s nursing attire.  Sam was dressed in a colorful top animated with flowers and other figures.  Mom lit up when she saw it.

I also think she recognized Sam more than she recognized me, but that’s okay.

After admiring Sam’s top, she saw mine and she smiled.  I wore a navy blue tee shirt I know Mom wants to steal from me.  It has a dandelion scattering seeds that are actually hearts.

051720 T shirt pattern mom likes

It was an online purchase and I haven’t seen it offered since.  I was hoping to order one for Mom.  I’m still keeping an eye out for it.

Mom has always loved that design and I was delighted to see that she recognized it.



Mom looked content, and when I asked if she enjoyed lunch she said “this is a good place.”

Her verbal responses are less fluent than they were a couple months ago.  She had more difficulty than I remember creating sentences.  That said, she still tried to be responsive to everything and even laughed a few times.

It was more difficult than I expected not to be able to hug her.


Kudos to the wonderful CNA’s, nurses, dining staff, cooks, housekeeping staff, activities staff, coordinators and administrators at Lenoir Woods.  Their dedication to providing the best care to residents, despite ongoing inconveniences they experience every day, is the reason why Lenoir Woods has such a wonderful reputation here in Columbia, Missouri.

I miss my extended family members in Mom’s neighborhood of Woods Central…the laughter, the teasing, the helpfulness, the concern, the food, the chair exercise classes, the visits from musicians and musical groups…and the hugs.

Hello, World!

The demographics of who has stopped by to check out this simple bog include what countries visitors come from.  How delightful to see that over the years I have had visitors from China, France, Spain, England, Sweden, South Korea and others.

To all I say, thank you for stopping by.  I hope you and your loved ones stay well during this challenging time of the Covid pandemic.  It wonderful to know that scientists from around the world are working to find vaccines and treatments that will work.  It is wonderful to remember that we are all related…one human race that will survive despite some of the idiots who lead some our nations.

And guess who has the dumbest idiot leader?  ME!!

Join hearts, everyone.








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Parental Journal 108 from Planet Elderly: First Zoom Session with Mom

Monday, May 5, 2020   early afternoon


“Your Teeth Are So White”

I am very grateful for some Zoom time with Mom a while back.  It was arranged by the Director of Activities. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was eager to see her.

Once I was connected, I heard the director say to Mom, “Pearl…guess who’s here?” as she placed the laptop in front of Mom.

Mom looked around as if an in-person visitor had arrived, and then she was shown the screen.

“Hi, Mom!” I waved.  “I have missed seeing you!”

She looked at the screen and then went into visitor mode.  “Oh, I’ve missed seeing you, too.”

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“Oh, okay.  I’ve been busy doing stuff around here.”  She gestured to the rug as if she had been vacuuming as usual.

“Are you eating okay?”

“There’s plenty to eat here…and it’s good.”

She looked around a bit because there were a lot of people in the area preparing to assist getting residents to the dining area.  Mom loves to observe others and listen in on their conversations.  Kitchen pans clanked in the background.  People were talking loudly and there was laughter.

I got her attention again when I tried explaining why I hadn’t visited.  I talked about the virus, rules about not having visitors, and how people around the world had to deal with this “pandemic.”

She looked amazed.  “Really?” as if she had not been told anything by staff, but of course she had and just could not remember.

“Yeah, no kidding.  This is quite historic.  People just have to stay home unless they need to get food or medical care.”

“Boy, your teeth are white,” she said peering closer to the screen.

“Oh, yeah?  Do they look nice and bright?”

“Yes they do.  Your teeth look really white.”

“Must be the new toothpaste I’m trying,” I said.

I noticed her nails were painted a bright pink color.  They matched her jacket.  When the director mentioned showing her nails to me, Mom smiled and said, “Oh, my daughter did my nails.” She held them up in front of her to admire.

No, the daughter didn’t do her nails, but I wasn’t about to correct her thinking.  I miss doing her nails though  because we chat and laugh a lot when I do.

Her attention turned to other activities for a minute, and then she said, “Well, it was good to see you.  You take care now.”  That’s her typical sign-off when visiting with other people.  Not me.

“Are you finished with your visit, Pearl?” the director asked.  “Ready to go to lunch?”

“Yes I am,” Mom said.  She gestured toward the laptop and told the director, “That’s my friend.”

And I am.  I am delighted and honored to be her friend.




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Parental Journal 107 from Planet Elderly: Visits No Longer Allowed

Sunday, March 15, 2020   late afternoon


Like many who are no longer permitted to visit loved ones in nursing homes, I’m concerned about my mom feeling alone.  However, I trust that staff have tried to explain the coronavirus situation to those residents who are still able to have a conversation.  Not that Mom will remember, but I’m confident staff will inform her any time she wonders where her daughter is.

Visitors or no visitors, I know Mom will be eavesdropping on any conversations within range, a favorite hobby of hers.  She has always been fascinated with people coming and going, staff having conversations, and suspenseful movies and TV shows.


Below:  Mom enjoying one of the birthday cupcakes friend Susan made for me.

Mom and Jenny's birthday cupcake

Disney Movie

A week ago, a Disney movie was being played.  I don’t remember which one, but I do remember that Mom was quite absorbed in what she was seeing.

There was a young female character trying to find another character, and she had to enter a dark forest.  Mom spoke up.  “Don’t go,” she told the young lady.  “Don’t go!” she said again.  “I told you not to go!”

Seeing her so absorbed, I naturally reminded her that it was a Disney movie and not real.  Hearing me interrupt her reality once again, she looked at me and said, “I know!” as if I were nuts.

Slowing Down

In recent weeks there have been more and more times when I see Mom sleeping or holding her head.  It’s not unusual for her to get sleepy after a meal, and I think she is still their champion night owl.

Once she recovered from her winter cold, she was back to using a walker with assistance from a staff member.  The weekend staff, however, usually have her in her wheelchair.  She doesn’t seem to mind either way.

Following directions as in left or right…as in putting a hand in a sweater sleeve…as in recognizing what items are on her served lunch plate, that is all getting worse.

Sometimes she will pour a bit of coffee on food items, reach for a used Kleenex with her fork, offer her food to others at the table, and use her fingers to eat pieces of meat or sliced buttered carrots.  I interrupt if I see her doing the Kleenex routine, but other than that, I try not to tell her what to do with the food on her plate.  Usually she is quite content and I just watch while chatting with others near us.

The last time I left her she was starting to nod off after lunch.  I told her I needed to stop at Walmart to pick up some things.  She nodded that she understood.  I gave her a kiss on her forehead, put on my coat, and as I was leaving her neighborhood, I realized that I forgot to say, “I love you,” as I usually do.

That was the last time I saw her.   I miss her and think of her throughout each day.


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Parental Journal 106 from Planet Elderly: “You look familiar.”

Sunday  February 16, 2020 – afternoon

When I stopped in to see Mom today, she was sitting in a chair in the TV area.  I walked up to her and said, “Hi, Mom.  How ya doin’?”

She smiled, looked at me and said, “You look familiar.”

“Well, that’s good.  I’m your daughter.”   Then she laughed.

Mental note to self read:  Is this the beginning of her getting to the point of not knowing who I am?  Maybe…but it may be a while.

Our Vacation Time with Flu, Bronchitis, Laryngitis, and a Bad Cold

I was first.  A couple days after Christmas I was coughing a lot and felt achy.  It was a Saturday, so I went to Urgent Care and was diagnosed with Influenza B like many others who had had the flu shot this year.

I took the Tamiflu, drank plenty of water, used inhalers as needed, and spooned out Robitussin regularly.

By January 6 I was voiceless.  Laryngitis big time and still coughing.

On January 11, again a Saturday, I went back to Urgent Care suspecting a bad case of bronchitis.  Confirmed.  More meds and rest.

I stayed home, away from people.  Didn’t visit Mom.  Did bundle up one day when I probably was not contagious but was coughing like crazy. Put on a surgical mask, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, and a scarf, and made a dash into Walmart for necessities. Then back home to my nest.

By January 27 I was much better, but I still had laryngitis.  I visited with my primary care doctor and brought her up to date about the flu and bronchitis.  She listened to my lungs and prescribed a second dose of Prednisone.  Then, upon my request, she referred me to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor and had me get a chest x-ray so we could get a reading of the lungs.

Mom was second.  Toward the end of my flu/bronchitis adventure I went to see Mom. She had developed a bad cough…very loose and raspy…and she was very tired.  I did not stay long because I did not want to get what she had.

Staff kept close tabs on her. She had a fever for a little while, but that went away and she was given some Robitussin, Tylenol, and oxygen. She spent about three days in bed and wasn’t interested in much food.

I visited her on one day and she was in a pretty good mood.  Her TV was on, and at times she seemed more interested in singing along to familiar TV commercials than chatting with me. She also seemed genuinely concerned about some conflicts happening on the old TV show “Gunsmoke” that day.  But we had a nice visit and I coaxed her into drinking some orange juice.

Mom bad cold Feb 2020

And yes, she still loves the cat.  It is something she can talk to and care for.  It needs new batteries.


Both of us are back to feeling pretty good.  Mom is busy watching people, listening to other people’s conversations, and loving the cat.  Her appetite is not great.  She is 112 lbs, down from 119 lbs a week or so ago.

My voice is not back to normal.  It’s raspy and deep.  The ENT doctor diagnosed me with “Laryngopharyngeal Reflux,” sort of a cousin to GERD.  Nickname:  “Silent Reflux.”

Here we go, I said after visiting the ENT doctor.  I’m at the age where I’m starting to collect specialists and learn of “conditions” that will require some lifestyle changes.

For this one, I’ll be avoiding some foods, caffeine and alcohol for the most part.  That said, when at a Mexican restaurant with gal pals, I will treat myself to a margarita on occasion. I will also be researching some recipes for “mocktails.”  Those are becoming a thing now in trendy bars, per NY Times. Anyone coming over to my place will have to bring their own.  My fridge and cabinets are empty of wine, beer, vodka, and tequila.  Okay by me.  Will be saving $$$ and calories.

Main meal of the day is between 1 and 4-ish, but that’s a routine I already had.  Nothing to eat three hours before bedtime.  Lots of water, which I love. Also, I am now the owner of a foam wedge bed pillow that will keep my upper body elevated a few inches.  I’ve used it three nights now. It’s comfortable and my nighttime coughing is drastically reduced. A personal thank you to the over 800 folks who bothered to write a review of this product on Amazon.

And that Chest X-Ray..

Turns out the lungs look okay.  However, the radiologist noted some “mild” conditions developing in my heart.  Not a huge surprise since my biological father had his first heart attack at age 39 and died at age 47…plus maternal grandmother and aunt had heart issues.  Mom has had no heart issues.

So here I go…another specialist to meet this coming week.  I bet he’ll be delighted to know of the lifestyle changes already under way.  I also bet I’m in for some interesting tests.





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Parental Journal 105 from Planet Elderly: Christmastime 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

It’s Sad

Looking back on the past week or so, it’s sad to know that Mom isn’t remembering any of it.  Not the area Christmas party with gifts, snacks ,and music…not the Christmas dinner we enjoyed yesterday.

She still remembers me, though, because I tick her off, annoy her, and seem to be a bother until I get ready to leave.  Then she gets huffy.

“Don’t forget that I’m here,” she said last Sunday.  Guilt trip, guilt trip, guilt trip.

New Pal

A few weeks ago, staff introduced Mom to “the cat.”  It’s a life size toy cat that can purr, blink its eyes, meow, and raise its paw.  The family of another resident left it here after their mom passed away.  Such mechanical cats and dogs are quite popular with people living with dementia.  And Mom loves, “My baby.”

Mom and cat dec 2019


It’s been effective in lessening her anxiety in the evenings.  She pets it, talks to it, and sometimes takes it to bed with her.  It also keeps her company when she falls asleep on the love seat.



Here’s the irony.  The entire time I was growing up, I was never allowed to have a cat or a dog.  One time I tried to bring in a caterpillar for whom I created a home inside a glass jar and poked holes in the lid so it would get air.  Nope.  Never made it past the front door.

I made up for not having pets, though.  I’ve had dogs and cats my whole adult life, so  now I’m delighted that Mom is enjoying and benefiting from the comfort of a creature with four paws.


Holiday Party

Lenoir Woods brings together folks from a few neighborhoods and hosts a lovely holiday party.  There is plenty of food, music, and a small gift for everyone brought by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Lenoir Xmas 03 2019


Lenoir Xmas 02 2019

Princess, the neighborhood Queen of Sweetness


Lenoir Xmas 04 2019


Lenoir Xmas 05 2019


This year’s party was just as festive as last year’s.  Mom only lasted about thirty minutes, though.  She ate a cookie and had some water.  Then she received her present, which came in a small, square box decorated with lovely wrapping paper.

That’s when I did a huge “NO-NO.”

Mom got the wrapping paper off easily, but when it came to opening the box, she tried to open it from the bottom.  My no-no:  turning the box over so she could open it “the right way.”

What I should have done was just let her fiddle with the box and open it in her own way.  She would never ask for help and was highly insulted by my gesture.  I don’t blame her.

She pushed the box away and wore her my-daughter-treats-me-like-a-child face.

I apologized, but she ignored me.

She finally opened the box and found a cute pair of socks but did not recognize them as socks because of the fluffy material and the style.

Looking around the room, she announced that she was going to leave, and she started pushing herself away from the table.  She was in a wheelchair which we use when she attends activities outside her neighborhood.

The area was packed with people in wheelchairs, so I asked her if she really wanted to go back, and she said yes.  Then she let me drive her back and was happy to see the cat waiting for her.

She was still pissed off with me, so I just sat next to her for a while and watched TV.

Christmas Dinner

Well, it was served at lunch time, but it was delicious: pot roast, roasted tiny potatoes of different colors, asparagus, and a yeast roll.  Everyone was given two desserts…a slim piece of sweet custard pie and a dish of strawberry pretzel jello.

As usual, we were a lively group with staff wearing various Christmas hats, earrings, socks, etc.   A chorus from Peace Works popped in and sang some carols.  A few spouses of former residents came by to wish the staff a Merry Christmas.

It was delightful with people talking, joking, laughing, and enjoying a delicious meal served by some terrific angels who are always so attentive and kind to everyone.



Lenoir Xmas 01 2019

Christmas Tree wall art made from cut out hands of residents and staff.  Thank you, Wendy!


When I arrived at 10:40 Mom was sound asleep, snoring with her mouth open.

I sat in the recliner she and Dad used for years and read some CNN news articles on my phone.  She woke up about 11:10.

When it was time for me to assist her in getting up and dressed, she was fine until she stood up and tried to walk.  She talked about having pain on the top of both feet.  I gave her the option to use the wheelchair to go to lunch, but she soldiered on with the walker and my guiding her.

She didn’t each much…a small slice of pork tenderloin, two cups of coffee, and a few mouthfuls of bread pudding.

After lunch, it was back to the love seat where she enjoyed time with her cat, I read the newspaper, and we both tried to figure out what the science fiction movie on TV was all about.


*She complains more about various pains when she gets up in the morning…legs, arms, feet, the side of her head.

*She is up quite late…often not agreeing to going to bed until 2 a.m. or later.  If she naps in the afternoon or early evening, it’s her nature to be up late, and I’ve shared that with staff.

*She cannot see things at a distance clearly but seems to do okay with the TV.

*She is using her hands more to eat the noon meal.  Fine for tater tots, but she’ll pick up carrot slices with her fingers, yet tries to use a fork to eat her dinner roll (and I’ve learned not to correct her).  Today, she used her hands to eat a few bites of bread pudding.

*When she sleeps in, she doesn’t have breakfast, but usually eats a good lunch.

*Her hands, arms, and legs are extremely thin.

*Taking pills is more of an issue these days.  She tends to keep them in her mouth and sometimes takes them out.  Hers are tiny, but she’s beginning to dislike taking them and often makes a face. Sometimes she says “No.” The staff have a variety of techniques to assist with that.

*She still loves to have her hair put into a ponytail.  “Everybody likes my ponytail,” she beams.  Yep, we do.  It’s easy maintenance for me when I assist her.

*She never mentions Dad…her condo in Grayslake, Illinois…driving…friends or relatives…anything about the past or the future.  Her world is very narrow…just what is happening now.

*She always compliments me on what I’m wearing.  She was a great shopper and enjoyed the thrill of bargain hunting. That appreciation for nice clothes on sale carries on.

*She likes using lipstick.  I brought her a tube of mine that is a nice, neutral color, and when I ask if she wants to put some lipstick on, 90 percent of the time she is delighted to do so.  She can’t find it on the bathroom sink, so I hand it to her.

*She continues to become more and more unsteady with the walker.  She is never allowed to use it by herself. These days she is not able to get up off a chair by herself, so it’s unlikely she’d be found using a walker by herself. In her mind, though, she believes she walks a lot, cleans the floors, needs to pick up after others, and that I make terrific coffee.

Sure, I do.

coffee cup


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Drifting Toward Planet Elderly – Poem: Crumble of Jello Cake

December 13, 2019 – evening

Last week Jello cake was served for dessert.  Mom said she was full and didn’t want any, but when she saw the small piece given to me, she changed her mind.

It was fun to see her totally consumed with the pleasure of eating that piece of cake.  When she was almost finished, she said something that became the seed for this poem.


Crumble of Jello Cake

I slipped off her fork

just as the bite I was baked with

approached her open mouth.


It wasn’t a rough landing onto

the beige Formica tabletop–

just a gentle plop behind her cup of tea.


From where I landed

I could see her appetite energized by

the sweetness of red jello blended with

made-from-scratch yellow cake

and topped with a thin white blanket of fluff.


She loved it.

I could tell.

She chewed quickly,

her blue eyes wide with

the anticipation of each bite.


“This is really good,” she said,

stabbing the air with her fork

pointed at the remains on the plate.


But I wasn’t on the plate.

I sat hidden behind her cup

of tea until she reached for it

and took a sip.


Then she saw me.


“Oh, there you are!” she smiled,

tapping me with her fingertip

and sliding me onto her cream coated tongue.


And there I went,

joining my confectionery counterparts

as I slipped my way toward her

delight of what was sweet and soft

and made her smile.




JJ Mummert ©December 2019


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