My dad and I tried to take Mom’s rings off today, but we had no success. In addition to her wedding and engagement ring, Mom wears four other rings, each one tightly hugging her fingers, so much so that even with liberal amounts of lubrication, the rings do not come off. She’s been wearing them for so long that her fingers have shaped themselves around the rings.
Mom has gained weight and her fingers are bigger than they used to be. She does not have pain in her fingers from her rings; they are not cutting off circulation (yet). But they look like they might.
The problem is that Mom won’t let me or my dad attempt to remove them. If we are to avoid cutting them, we have to be able to work them off each finger a little at a time, which may hurt if not irritate the fingers. I have visions of us putting Mom under local anesthesia in order to avoid a big scene.
Do the rings really need to come off? If the answer is yes, then we can’t let our fear of Mom’s Alzheimer’s stop us from doing the job. We’ve experienced Mom’s reaction to “invasive” medical procedures like a mammogram or taking blood samples, collecting urine or getting a flu shot.
Each time we go back to the clinic, I weigh the significance of the test or procedure not only in terms of its importance to mapping Mom’s health but also to my ability to cajole, persuade, wheedle, charm or even bully Mom into doing something she is disinclined and incapable of doing. If Mom won’t pee into a cup on the first try, she may do it on the fourth or fifth. She may be willing to let me help her, or miraculously, do it independently. Perhaps bribing her with chocolate will do the trick.
Mom is occasionally aware of her weight gain. “I’m getting so fat,” she’s said as she’s dressing. The good thing is that a comment like that is soon forgotten. I’m sure most women would love to be blissfully oblivious about their appearance, or at least unselfconscious of their bodies.
Mom certainly has a higher caloric intake than she needs. And the amount of exercise she engages in—usually in the form of walking—is insufficient. That’s a bad combination for an older person whose metabolism is decreasing.
I’m reminded of a nursery rhyme from my childhood:
“Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.”
Let’s keep the music, but the rings might have to go.
A jeweler may be more kind to the rings (and fingers) than a surgeon, if we can find one who will saw them off. Imagine needing to own a saw to cut rings. Apparently, once they’ve been cut, assuming it’s on the joint of the ring, rings can be soldered back together and resized. Mom would likely miss wearing her rings, but if we do have to go through it, we’ll only be doing it once.
If eating a good chocolate dessert gets Mom out of a funk, I might even prescribe a second slice. One of our favorite winter desserts is banana cake or bread or muffins, preferably with chocolate chips. If I find myself with overripe bananas, I’ll put them in the freezer until I’ve collected enough to make this moist, flavorful recipe.
Desserts that are “diet” can also be tasty. Here’s a way to cut down on the calories without compromising on the taste. Don’t just have one, though, eat three!
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 banana, sliced
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs and oil then add sugar, vanilla and mashed bananas. Add dry ingredients and mix to form a consistent batter. Place one heaping tablespoon of batter into each paper cupcake holder (size #3). Place a slice of banana on top. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
About the Author: Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at http://www.thelostkichen.org, featuring anecdotes about her mother’s Alzheimer’s and related recipes. She is currently searching for a publisher for her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen: Reflections and Recipes from an Alzheimer’s Caregiver. Her poetry has appeared in several journals, including Poet Lore, the Prose Poem Project, Ilanot Review, The Barefoot Review and Poetica Magazine. Her poem, “Mercy of a Full Womb,” won the 2014 Jewish Literary Journal’s 1st anniversary competition. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bar Ilan University and a B.A. from Oberlin College. Miriam is a 20+-year resident of Israel and a mother of three.