Of Fingers and Toes

I’ve just returned from a visit with my two-and-a-half year old granddaughter–and her mother and father, of course. It was a delight to spend Friday with her, and I was amazed to see how well she got into her winter outerwear: she used the upside-down-coat trick to flip her jacket over her head and onto her arms, she pulled her hat over her ears, and finally struggled into her boots–a real challenge. In the end, all I had to do was zip up her coat and help her get her mittens on, purple side IN, please.

I was reminded of my granddaughter yesterday when I took Mom to the foot doctor. In almost all ways, Mom is less independent putting on winter-wear than my granddaughter. I had to help Mom get her coat on, and zip it up. “Wow. Good for you,” Mom said, clearly impressed with my enormous talent. I took a bow. Then I got her gloves over her hands, and checked to see that all her fingers were in the right slot, just as I had for my granddaughter’s thumbs in her mittens. The similarity in Mom’s and my granddaughter’s needs for help was stark. It’s charming to watch the little one learning and growing; it’s painful to watch my mother struggle with everyday skills and know that she will only lose skills, not gain them.

As we drove to the foot doctor (where Mom had had a cortisone shot in her left heel for plantar fasciitis three weeks ago), I told Mom that the doctor would ask her how her foot was feeling, “…and you will say…?” I paused here, waiting for Mom to say it felt fine. Earlier in the morning, I was moaning to my husband about the re-check appointment. “The doctor will say, ‘How does your foot feel,’ and Mom will say, ‘Fine,’ and he’ll say, ‘Let us know if you have any further problems,’ and we’ll leave. What’s the point of dragging Mom out there?” I was in deep pity-party mode–after all, the temperature was 7ยบ! So now I waited for Mom to say that her foot was fine. Instead, she said, “This one hurts now,” and slapped her right thigh. Yup. Now the other foot was hurting. This wasn’t a wasted trip to the doctor, and how good it was that I stopped and let Mom speak, rather than speaking for her, as I was tempted to do. I suspect that Mom’s left foot was more painful than the right, and that only when the left foot felt better did she notice that the right foot hurt.

In the end, Mom got a shot of cortisone in her right heel, and we have a three-week-from-now appointment, which we can cancel if she is doing OK. Back at Bickford, the terrific staff got her settled in her recliner, iced her foot, and brought her lunch to her room while the cortisone did its work. I’m grateful that my parents are able to afford the cost of living there, and that they were willing to move to Bickford. Their residency meant that, instead of caring for Mom’s foot all afternoon, I went and got my nails done–fingers AND toes–for a trip to Florida coming up at the end of this week. Ahhhhh.

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