Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Caregiving: a cheese epiphany
Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are defined clinically but when subjected to interaction can range from odd to phenomenal but always interesting. Outings, I believe, are important for Patti because reality is rich in the stimuli of unknowns.
Sunday we made a quick stop at the grocery store. Patti thoroughly enjoys going to the grocery store. It’s never an errand to her, it’s an outing.
Symptom: visual impairment - Patti is “legally blind”. There is a clinical definition about visual distance, and if you only observed her watching TV you would see her sit within 2 – 3 ft of a 36” diagonal TV screen in order to see it. Yet ‘MS vision’ as I understand it is more like looking through a three dimensional stain glass window with half the pieces missing. Depending on circumstances glimpses from certain range and depth plus the missing pieces filled in by memory can create apparent ‘vision’.
Taking that symptom out of the clinical and into reality at the grocery store … Deciding that she wants a bag of chips I roll her down the chip aisle reading off the countless options. Suddenly she points and tells me she wants “that bag of UTZ’s potato chips with the wrinkles.” In disbelief, I pace off the distance of 15 feet to the bag of chips she is pointing at. 5X the range of her vision. Handing it to her she holds it about 6 inches from her face while looking at it to make sure it is an UTZ potato chip bag. <grin> Spooky, isn’t it?
Symptom combo: Dysphagia and Emotional Lability. Dysphagia usually is associated with problems in swallowing and the threat of choking but can also cause speech problems. Inability to control volume is always the most interesting of these. Emotional Lability basically means you never quite know what to expect.
… In the dairy aisle I hand Patti the Velveeta cheese that we had come specifically to buy for grilled cheese sandwiches to put in the basket in her lap. Patti appears to ponder it then boomingly announces to me and every other shopper in the dairy aisle that “Velveeta cheese SUCKS!” <grin> With shoppers in the dairy aisle frozen in place by the outburst, Patti continues her cheese epiphany sharing how she always has to eat the stupid Velveeta because everyone else likes it, and it’s not even really cheese. I notice a couple carts starting to quietly inch away and suspect they probably possess some of the evil Velveeta and are trying to escape this cheese Nazi in a wheel chair. <grin> Such symptoms tend to be brief in duration and soon we are back to finishing our errand, minus the Velveeta. <grin>
[Editor's Note: In the quarter century I've known Patti I've never heard her express any feelings about cheese.]
Where a quick stop at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon should have been typical almost boring; instead it became a more colorful and interesting moment in time.
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