Mark Twain

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Salt!


Mom emerged from her earlier hospitalizations with a few new diagnoses, new medications and dietary changes.

... hmmm!

But I get ahead of myself!!

Back to the beginning ... way back. Back before she moved in with me, before she retired, before I got married - back when mom cooked for her family.

As my my son would say, "back when dirt was invented!"

There was no such thing as "dietary restrictions." If it tasted good, you ate it. Nothing was harmful or worrisome. After all, cigarettes were recommend by doctors as a way to calm nerves. Lard was commonly used. A paternal uncle of mine was a butcher, and the story goes that my aunt baked with chicken fat. She made to-die-for baked goods ... which my uncle did - die ... from a heart attack. And salt was never a problem then.

We were raised with salt.

To this day, I still believe salt isn't a seasoning, but a food group. Salt is a gift of the Gods!!

Now fast forward a few years.

Salt and I are still very good friends. Even after all the negative publicity about salt and blood pressure, I still use salt. That why diuretics were invented, right?

Now that I have set the stage ... I'll continue.

Four years ago at mom's first hospital discharge, the nurse gave her instructions: low salt and low fat diet. I stopped the nurse in her recitation. I informed her that mom lived with me, that she had made it to the great age of 81 (at that point), and that as far as I was concerned, she could eat whatever she wanted. The nurse smiled at me and graciously agreed ... but she had to document in the chart that she had said these words: "low salt and low fat diet".

Ok, I didn't want to get in the way of someone doing their job.

So mom and I continued blissfully down the old salt road. Every hospital discharge included the same cautions - "low salt and low fat diet".

And then April 2011 came. She got short of breath.

We didn't realize what was causing it. We went to the ER. Tests were performed, and we waited for results. While we waited, mom and I were hungry. It was right before lunch. They don't serve lunch in the ER. I went out to the snack machine in the lobby - salty and sweet were all they had. If they had carrots and celery I would have ... well, no, you wouldn't believe that.

I got Doritos!

(Stop it! I can see you shaking your head.) :-)

We munched together. Those Doritos were so yummy. We each had our own bag. I am sure I licked my fingers. We finished every last piece. I "shot a few baskets" with the Doritos bags in the trash.

We waited some more for test results.

Then the doctor arrived with the diagnosis. She had fluid around her lungs, and that was why she was short of breath. They would start her on IV diuretics right away and admit her to the hospital.

And then he asked about her diet and salt!

The crumpled Doritos bags stared back at me from the trash can. I closed my eyes. Then I looked back at the trash, willing those bags to be somewhere else. Then I looked at mom. She had not put two and two together. Those yummy Doritos had to be 85% salt. Thankfully she did not rat me out to the doctor, and the doctor didn't look into the trash!

She had fluid retention. It hospitalized her. Salt was hurting her now. Mom's health required less salt. Mom and salt must part ways.

Like a fictional cartoon character, I responded heroically!

I became "The Terminator" of salt, Wonder Woman of the no salt diet, Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau of food labels. If it went in her mouth, I examined it. I would be the best no-salt daughter ever. In short, salt was now mom's enemy and therefore my enemy (on her behalf only, 'cause I was still a closet-salt-eater!)

We proceeded salt free for about 2 months. I bought low salt and no salt versions of all her favorites. I adjusted my recipes. She unenthusiastically ate what I gave her, but she complied ... at least while I was watching.

One day she snagged one of those big fat sour dough pretzels with the big chunky pieces of salt. She did not see me, but I watched her. You could see the pure joy of her tongue reflected on her face. Guilt! I had kept her from that. Best intentions, but still ...

So I packed away my "Super Daughter" hero cape, and I added salt sparing into her diet, permitted a salty item now and then, watched her weight, her blood pressure, checked her ankles, made sure medical professionals were listening to her lungs ...

But she got salt back in her diet again!

Life is too short to cut out all simple pleasures. You would know that if you saw her face with that chunky salted pretzel.


Retired Knitter
Care Giver and Daughter


4 comments:

  1. When you get to her age (or even mine for that matter) you come to realize that you don't want to live forever, you just want to live while you are alive. (sounds a bit like Bon Jovi doesn't it?)

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  2. I have a hard time with moderation but it does have it's place!

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  3. Oh how I'd love to go back 40 years to the land time forgot where everything was coated with salt and butter. That would make me 40 years young too, right? Gone is salt from my diet and the table. Still working on weaning the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" for a better choice. I try to check each package and look for alternatives before throwing anything in the grocery cart. I know why the grocery bill is so high, the more they take out of food, the more it costs.

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  4. haha. i did the same thing--i thought getting rid of salt completely was better than going low salt. boy did i learn that lesson! salt is back in our diet and once in a while the 'bad' stuff is allowed too.

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