I only work three days a week at my assisted living facility. The upside of this is: I only work three days a week! The downside is: I never know what to expect when I come in for a new week of work. Much can change in the four days that I am off. Assisted living is full of surprises. To catch up, I read the Daily Logs from the past few days (like reading a novel) and cross over pertinent information with the last shift. But, there’s nothing like actually working with your residents that truly catches you up to the week’s events. This week, a care manager informed me that one of my residents, Marlene*, had fallen a few days ago and fractured her pelvis. Marlene is an 80-pound waif, still brimming with vigor and vim, and I was devastated to hear about her fall. Until then, she had been fairly independent, walking around with only a “scooter” and bringing herself to meals and socials. I helped her prepare for bed and gave her a hydro once a week. Needless to say, with a fractured pelvis, she was about to lose much of this independence.
That same day, I found out that one of my other residents, Addie*, was given a quite different piece of news: she was cleared by the doctor to start walking again. Due to a blood clot in her leg (deep vein thrombosis) she had been told that she could no longer walk because the doctors feared that the clot would travel upwards. Her leg became swollen, red and hot to the touch, the hallmarks of inflammation. We talked about it nearly every night while getting ready for bed. Addie felt understandably distressed about her “fat” leg and didn’t completely understand why it had just appeared one day, and why she couldn’t just go “buy another one.” We looked at it mostly with humor, but I also understood that she was frustrated. The fact that she had been cleared to walk again most likely meant that some of her edema would dissipate, but more importantly, she would regain some of the freedom that the wheelchair had stolen. We relegated the chair to a dark corner of her room, and relinquished control of her walker. It was a happy day for Addie. Despite feeling weakness in her knees, she powered through walking to social and dinner, all without asking for the wheelchair even once. It took some delicate huffing and puffing to make it there, but we did it. I was so proud of Addie.
That night, while caring for Marlene, I struggled with these two tales. I celebrated Addie’s recent achievement, but wondered about her regained independence. Was it Marlene’s independence that had brought on this truly unfortunate accident? There are statistics that they tell us about Falls when we start working as care managers. One of the most striking stats is that “The average resident will die 5 years after his/her first fall.” Clearly, statistics can be manipulated, and I certainly hope this one is not entirely accurate, but it has staying power. I think about it as I help grimacing Marlene stand up in the bathroom. I think about it when she tells me that she is in too much pain to have a hydro that evening. They say that all falls are avoidable (which makes you feel terrible if you are ever present for a fall). Yet, they also say that you must help your residents maintain as much independence as possible. How can both statements be true? I understand that the ISPs (individualized service plans) serve the purpose of evaluating every resident’s unique needs and tailoring a care plan specifically to that individual, but it only takes one accident for that care plan to become null. As I mulled it over, I helped Marlene put on the two legs of her pajamas. She bit her lip while trying to lift the “Bad” leg. Then, she looked up at me and grinned. She said, “I guess this is why God gives us two legs.” I looked at her curiously. She continued, “So that when you screw one of them up, at least you still have the other one to be happy about.” We laughed together and I felt better. Marlene will recover. She has plenty of life left in her. And I will help her to regain the independence that she is so proud to have.
We are going to the Olympics today! Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are staying in Vancouver and Whistler, in the homes of family friends. Since these friends have made clear to us that they could easily rent out our room for a royal sum if we weren’t staying with them I wanted to bring them a little something to make us more valuable as house guests. Clearly, my famous zucchini bread is the answer.
This recipe is my own. It was modified from another one, found a few years ago (I don’t know where) when I was living a summer drowning in zucchini. We had planted 3 or 4 zucchini plants in our P-Patch garden. Being novices, we did not understand that a singular zucchini plant will feed a family of 12…and 4 zucchini plants will make you feel like your entire body will turn to zucchini shreds if you have even just one more bite! The only thing to do with so much zucchini (literally grown to the size of baseball bats) was to turn it into beautiful, tan, and chewy-crunchy loaves of zucchini bread. I made enough for our entire neighborhood of friends, twice, and then froze as much of it as I possibly could in perfectly proportioned batches of shredded zucchini for to make two loaves of bread. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I am finally down to my last bagful of frozen zucchini delight. And it is traveling to the Olympics!
Drowning in Zucchini Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3 C. Flour (I prefer equal parts whole wheat and all-purpose)
3 C. Grated Zucchini (I use a food processor to grate it coarsely)
2 C. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
3 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 C. Vegetable Oil (downsized from the original recipe which called for a full cup. Sometimes I even use 1/2 a cup)
1-2 C. Walnuts or Chocolate Chips (optional, but delightful)
This is one of the easiest recipes to whip up. Mix it all together. That’s it! Truly. Grease two loaf pans WELL. I put in the chocolate chips (if I am using them) very last, only seconds before I pour the batter into two greased loaf pans. Otherwise, they have a tendency to fall to the bottom.
Bake ~1 hour at 350. Times may vary. Check with a toothpick when the top is a beautiful golden brown.