Stories and thoughts about family and life

Tuck and Roll

on January 12, 2014

My mother-in-law is a Type 2 Diabetic. She loves sweets. You can probably already see where this is headed.

Since moving them to a nursing home almost two months ago, we have been pleased to see a tremendous improvement in the diet of both parents, as they rarely leave their room and are eating only what’s provided by the nursing home and by us when we come and visit. We’ve also been pleased to see that they’re walking around the floor before and after their meals, so we’re seeing them get some more exercise. My father-in-law has been encouraged by feeling better, and is prompting this new-found exercise habit. My mother-in-law isn’t quite so excited, but since he goes, so does she.

The adjustment to this nursing home environment has been difficult in a variety of ways, but the most challenging for my mother-in-law was certainly this lack of sweets. Cookies and candy are her personal favorites, but the thing she loves the most is ice cream. When she’s looking for a treat, she asks us to bring her ice cream. We’ve had to make some changes to what they’re allowed to keep in their room, because we discovered as they were growing more comfortable with us bringing them food, they were eating more and more of it. This put us in the position of having to ration the amount of food we were bringing into the facility.

This new rationing means that my mother-in-law is very protective of her cookies. Apparently the cookies is how my father-in-law is getting her to walk around the floor. According to the floor nurse, they see my mother-in-law pushing her walker, and stopping every few feet to nibble on her cookie. We find this entertaining for a couple of reasons: first, she will tell you she can’t do anything with her arm and can’t normally even raise it to her mouth (except to eat her cookie), second, they remark that she moves as a pretty good clip around the floor, especially when she’s getting close to the room on a lap (where she’ll get a second cookie for lap number 2).

Right after Christmas, we were sitting in the movie theater with our kids when Louis realizes his cell phone is ringing. His dad calls us regularly, so when he saw the number he just sent it to voice mail and we finished the movie. As we’re leaving the theater, he realizes the nursing home has called a couple of times too. Upon calling and checking in with the floor nurse, we found out that another resident had seen my mother-in-law walking the floor, approached her, and simply yanked her walker out from under her. The nurses were at the nursing station when it happened right in front of them. They were amazed that it happened in the first place, but how my mother-in-law handled it was the most shocking.

This woman, who can barely walk, cannot use one arm at all and can barely use the other, tucked and rolled when her walker was yanked out from under her. Not only did she tuck and roll, she held her cookie high up in the air so it wouldn’t hit the ground or be dropped. They couldn’t believe it and both of them said they wouldn’t have believed it if they hadn’t seen it with their own eyes. She rolled and bounced back up and the first words out of her mouth were “I’m fine! Don’t call my son!”

We’ve laughed and laughed at her being worried we were going to bust her out with her cookie in the hallway. I guess she figured we wouldn’t let her have ANY cookies anymore after that. I know you’re wondering: the other resident was sent away for additional mental evaluation. My mother-in-law is fine, although sore the next day after her tumble. We were musing at how we didn’t figure out the cookie solution before now.

So, when you feel like you just can’t go on, or you’re not sure you have the energy to accomplish your task, maybe you just need a cookie. . .


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