Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short Order Kitchen

If you have small children, you know that feeding them can be a challenge. One child doesn't like cheese. The other child wants her sandwiches cut diagonally, and without crusts. Neither child will eat seafood. Some days I feel like a short order cook in my own kitchen. Now Fanini is beginning a strange new stage of AZ, the not eating phase. On a scientific level, watching Fanini's brain disassemble is fascinating. I can watch sections of memory and function stop working in real time. Not eating is part of the whole sensory input section of the brain. Physical stimulation becomes harder and harder to process for Fanini. Like a tiny infant, she cannot understand what to do with that physical sensation. Suddenly food flavors and textures "do not compute." Anything spicy, sour, crunchy, or otherwise distinctive to the taste buds is left on the plate. But, like a child, she always will eat sweets. Sanini tells me that this is an evolutionary remnant--sweet foods are not likely to be poisonous.

So now I am left with a diminishing repertoire of recipes. A cursory search of the AZ websites recommends feeding the foods of their youth, those deepest in memory. I talked with Fanini's doctor about this, and she basically said, "if she'll eat ice cream, give her ice cream with nutritional additives." We're not talkin' healthy building blocks here. So what I need need is the 'End of Life' cookbook. Just imagine the recipes! 50 Ways To Sneak In Protein Powder! Steak Shakes! Lasagne A La Mode!

So I'm at yet another bizarre intersection in great chart of human life progression. My children need foods that are tasty and supportive for growing bodies, since I'm shaping their future food preferences and physical health. Fanini's food needs are more akin to hospice care. The Trader Joe's last sacrament chocolate truffle. I suppose there are worse ways to end your days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Today we had a Twofer. 1. My boy got pottytrained. 2. Fanini got her own bathroom.
My 2 1/2 year old, Ganini has been flirting with the potty for months, and finally today used it on his own initiative for the whole day. I never really minded the diapers, and baby-poo is less disgusting than adult-poo, but it does get tiresome.
When Fanini first moved in with us, I bought a pottychair to put in Fanini's room, because she often felt uncomfortable walking through the house to the bathroom. So I've been emptying chamberpots for the last 6 months. I don't know if you've ever had to empty chamberpots, but it is not nice. Consequently adding on to our (tiny) 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house was pretty much a requirement. Now, $80,000 later, we have a swell bedroom/bathroom addition for Fran.
I checked a book out of the library, "how to alzheimer's proof your home" or something. If you want the title, ask me and I'll look it up. I got a lot of good ideas from looking at other assisted living buildings, in addition to research on the web. I took all that information and incorporated into the plan the bits that I thought would be most helpful to Fran and her caregivers. Speakers in the ceiling pipe Fanini-friendly muzak into her room. The bathroom floor is a very groovy cork mosaic tile that is warm to the touch and soft on the foot. The bedroom has radiant floor heat so there are no heaters to worry about. A french door exits to the backyard so we could later add a wheelchair accessible entrance. The toilet has a warmed bidet toilet seat. A towel warmer pre-heats towels and PJs, very important for the AZ patient's comfort. It is all very posh.
All day Fanini has been very happily sitting in her room, looking through her possessions and listening to the muzak. This evening when I heard the new toilet flush, I smiled and considered a future with less poop and more elbowroom. It looks better.