The summer and fall of 2011 was a rough time for my Mom’s side of the family. Grandma suffered a stroke in the right hemisphere of her brain and initially lost the ability to use her left appendages and see out of her left eye. It was devastating for our
family to see the tie that bound us, in so many ways, lying in a hospital bed and using her right hand to maneuver the left. After spending six weeks in the hospital and another ten in a nursing home, she has been living at home for one year on December 1st. Our family takes turns spending time with her around the clock, helps her to get around, makes her meals, and administers medication. We contribute our own unique abilities to aid her recovery. For example, Drew, my cousin who is the same age as me, is studying to be a physical therapist. It’s really neat to watch him handle and speak to her as if she’s a patient. Calmly. Methodically. Undeterred. Whereas I’m more of a, “Right foot. Left foot. There you go, now we’re cookin’!” kind of girl. I like to think that I can aid her in other ways, in the dietary department.
On more than one occasion, Grams and I have looked up recipes that have nutrients someone in her position should consume. It’s challenging to make sure she receives fibrous nutrition, especially when all she seems to want since the stroke is sweets. No matter how eye-pleasing a dish, she’ll always choose sweet over savory and chocolate over…everything else. I only mention the low sodium, low fat, high protein, and higher fiber options. Since all choices given are beneficial to her health she can’t choose wrong, and thus won’t be disappointed from not getting her way. Grams tends to “act out” whenever she senses that she has no say in what she does, what she eats, etc. So it’s all in how you phrase things. “Do you want to do exercises before or after dinner? Would you rather have an apple or a pear?”
Grams has been Drew and I’s little paradigm when it comes to working with stroke victims. Possibly the most important thing that I’ve learned from being a caretaker is to enable the dependent to feel as if they have complete control, even in the most minute instances.
Since the protein and fiber content in chickpeas is high and the flavor possibilities are endless, I thought that it’d be easy for Grams to select a dressing or seasoning of her choice. Theoretically, she would get an ample amount of nutrition no matter what she decided to dress them with. If she happened to be uninspired, I could always cheese them up and make them “Mac.“
So I asked, “What do you want on your roasted chickpeas Grams? Ranch, ketchup, garlic powder?” Without missing a beat she answered, “How ’bout brown sugar and maple syrup?” She’s so sly. Of course she’d figure out a way to make chickpeas taste like french toast. Well played Grams. Well played.