Tag Archives: diet

My Mother’s OK


My Mother's OK
This is a damaged but fairly good photo of my parents from the 1960s. It is the festival of lights, Diwali and they are celebrating with other Anglo-Indians. We celebrate a lot of festivals but now that we are so much older ourselves there are THINGS TO DO!

I have been wanting to write about Mummy’s bedsore for a long time. There are a few people following this blog who have elderly parents they are caring for so this could be a bit of a dialogue in case I have made some mistakes in treating it and in case I can give some insights into the treatment of bed sores.

First of all we panicked! The lady and I who discovered it on the 1st of February. It was a ghastly sight, a large crater with flesh gouged out it seemed, and oozing some liquid. It was a Sunday morning so our doctor was not on call but I ran to the internet to check and my heavens, the news was bad. Apparently it can be fatal if an infection sets in. The mistake all this while was in thinking that it was a bad form of her psoriasis and so Neosporin powder was being liberally applied. It had a large scab and during a bath the scab separated to show the crater under it.

She had been eating poorly for months, refusing solid food and my sister had been at her wit’s end to figure out how to tempt her to eat. I am not anywhere near as good or innovative a cook as my sister is. She became so upset about the whole thing which was just not at all her fault. Sharada had been on a months leave and the substitute lady had not been able to keep her as well tended.

Anyway Monday morning the doctor came and looked at it. He said it was pretty bad, prescribing some medical ointment, changing of position constantly and lots of protein in the diet.

After a week of this treatment we were really very much more worried because nothing seemed to have changed and there was quite a bad odour too. So we asked him to visit again. Apparently it was the ointment that had such a rotten smell because as soon as it was discontinued things were fine. This time he prescribed antibiotics and suggested we get her an air mattress or a waterbed which would relieve pressure. We had been changing her position and also making her sit up in the wheelchair. Mummy has a weak right leg so she has difficulty in turning on her side and lies constantly on her back, even sleeping in this position. The bedsore was on her lower back, where probably the pressure was the most acute.

So then it was tackled on a war footing, as they say. The diet was discussed with Dr Anwar and he said give her egg and fish and chicken. So that was on the menu. She needs vegetables and fruit so that was on too. And milk and cheese helped. Her eating regimen was reversed. She now has a soup which is actually dal and daliya (broken wheat) and vegetables cooked with something green and with a little ginger and garlic, salt and pepper and then liquidized. This is her lunch. She may have some sweet yogurt or ice cream or fruit after for dessert. At night she has more variety. She gets more interested in eating by the early evening, that’s why soup is the afternoon meal now. She is ready to have her milk and cookies in the evening and then either the scrambled eggs, French toast, pasta or tuna fish sandwich which is my repertoire for now. Well the diet helped I think. She gradually gained her overall health back and is now more mentally alert, speaks a bit and says some things in protest now and again.

We got her an air mattress which has pockets in it which fill and empty at different times so that the levels continuously change. Later, he suggested an inflated ring on which she has to lie with the affected part inside the open space of the ring to relieve all pressure on it. By now about a month had passed and he was satisfied with the progress. It had dried up, the slough that was forming had stopped and new flesh was growing inside the edge of the crater that had itself shrunk. he had prescribed a liquid antibiotic which was poured inside to reach into the inner recesses of the sore.

Now our job is to see that a new bedsore does not develop. It can cause septicaemia and this is fatal to bedridden patients. There is a lot more that is scary and of course bedsores should be dealt with urgently on discovery and never, never neglected till there is no trace of them and for this turning positions of the patient is vital.

That is the situation now so everyone is relieved, needless to say!

I would really be happy to gain new insights into this problem from any angle, diet, treatment physically etc. I may have forgotten some things but in discussion maybe it will come to mind. Oh yes, we used a diet supplement called Ensure. I am not sure about this because some people say these things are scams but maybe people can enlighten me.



Staying Sensible


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At first my mother was eating whatever everyone else was but her notoriously lazy digestive system, compounded now by having to while away life in bed, made a special diet imperative. I read recently that food is the most abused and exercise the least used of our options for a healthy life. Experience tells me how true this is.
Creating a diet meant for someone who was a wonderful cook herself but who had a rather indifferent approach to her own ingestion of food was quite a task. She had to have four meals or four times of eating and drinking something.
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Breakfast was the obvious place to start….daliya, which I love lightly fried in ghee, then given one quick whistle in the pressure cooker, and eaten with milk and sugar was rejected outright. This was sad for me because there is something of her indifference to balanced food in me too and I wasn’t going to make it for myself if she didn’t want it. Muesli was OK by her but not everyday. Cornflakes, same. But Quaker Oats was just fine. Over the years it has come to be a staple, served with a mashed banana, milk and sugar. She never really liked egg/toast/bacon and suchlike. Occasionally, she doesn’t mind idli/dosa/sambhar but we reserve it for other meals because porridge is never totally and utterly refused.

For lunch it was a meal any middle class Indian family has. But Anglo Indians are meat curry and rice eaters. This was a dilemma at first but both she and my father took to eating vegetables, dal, chapatis, salad, and curds. Denis who thought that self-respecting vegetables were only potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage or cauliflower would blanch at the sight of bhindi, turai, karela or baingan but he would try. Chicken was fine too and cooked often but Mummy for many many years had been eating vegetarian food so she liked this new stuff being served up. She did not like rice and anyway, white rice, the polished variety we all eat is useless compared to whole wheat chapatis. So that was lunch.

In the evenings she had milk with some Complan, a diet supplement added, and some cookies or cake.
And finally dinner was vegetable soup with a cheese sandwich, a pasta dish or just about anything because by this time of the daily routine plenty of vegetables had been added. Oh yes, dessert at both lunch and dinner included fruit and usually Icecream.

Oh I was so proud of myself because she not only had no problems, she ate well and put on a slight bit of weight and had a smoothly functioning digestive machinery. It was fine to relax this, not be totally inflexible about it because the regularity mattered but did not mean a few meals could not be different. Shepherds Pie, or brown stew, or Vindaloo sometimes.
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Denis had taken to cooking after his retirement because Mummy retired from cooking, and did turn out perfectly Mummylike Anglo Indian stuff. He would eat brinjals only in the form of the sweet-sour vinegar based pickle and made it fabulously. But now he retired from cooking too because a lot of the everyday load of physical caring was shared by him. The two home help were NCs (non-combatant men who were assigned tasks like cooking and cleaning in the armed forces. The two assigned to work for him because of the fact that he retired as the Chief of the Indian Air Force were from the nearby village but being males, we did not get them to do any of the work for Mummy. They helped to prop her up while using the walker later, though and were always willing to do more). The NCs, both called Swami and therefore known by their initials became well known by the relatives, grandchildren, friends and visitors.

But my attempts to get them to learn how to make meals for Mummy really tip top was such a losing battle that it just meant my sisters and me going in relays there to see to the cooking. We still do the cooking for Mummy ourselves. Not for the sake of hygiene, or trust issues, but because we know her tastes and also because we know on a day to day basis what and how much she has consumed.