Thursday, October 7, 2010

An Unusual Table Setting

Those that know Janet knows that she loves to eat out. At home she seldom gets through a meal without going to sleep in the middle so many meals are done in sessions, part now, part later. When we go out that is very, very seldom the case. There are times when she will eat the meal with her eyes closed but not very often. I discovered the real benefit of eating out somewhat by accident shortly after her stay at St Joseph Hospital in May.

Prior to going to the hospital I had been concerned that she was having difficulty swallowing because she would occasionally chew her food but instead of swallowing she would stuff it into her checks. She would continue taking and chewing the food until her cheeks were full and then she would frequently erupt and spit it out. Food splattered over the table or even in your cheeks isn’t doing you much good. Anyway they did extensive swallowing tests at St Joseph and she came through with flying colors. There was no difficulty, she was just not swallowing. While she was in the hospital she cleaned her plate at every meal with no difficulty. I’m not sure that I could accomplish that with hospital food. Back at home and she again quit eating, even refusing to take food. I couldn’t seem to get food or even liquids down her and again I was concerned.

I don’t remember the exact circumstances right now but I believe we had gone to camera club meeting and as usual on the way home stopped at Denny’s for something to eat. For whatever reason, we had an occasion to eat out. She ate, drank and swallowed like she had never seen food before. I felt very relieved thinking that whatever had caused the refusal to eat had gone away. It hadn’t. The next day at home we were back to not eating. So that evening out of curiosity I packed her up and we went out to eat. Same results, she scarfed it down. Now I will admit, my cooking leaves a lot to be desired. I have always sworn that anyone could lose weight on my cooking although that is hard to tell that by looking at me.

Eventually the eating at home problem has abated but just to be sure that she is getting enough to eat and also because I know she enjoys going out I have made it a point to eat dinner out at least two to three times and often more each week. She can be quite lethargic but as soon as I start getting her dressed to go out she perks up. Now granted, by the time the car is out of the drive she is usually asleep and I have to wake her when we arrive, but she still seems to enjoy it. Anyway, to the story of the photograph.

I try to vary our eating destination for variety but we frequently end up at Denny’s on I45 and Shepherd. For the past few months we have been able to sit in the station of the same waitress, Genesis. We have certain unusual requirements. All during the meal and especially after Janet begins to get full she habitually will run her hand back and forth over the surface of the table. I do not know why. She does the same thing at home but not to the extent that she does it when we go out. Anyway, anything in her path is likely to end up on the floor so I move everything that I can to the far side of the table and usually sit the condiment tray on a chair so it is safely out of the way. It is also required that I sit at a ninety degree angle to Janet on her right side so that I can feed her conveniently. In the main dining area at Denny’s there are no tables so we are limited to one booth where we can sit properly. That is why we always end up in the same station.

It takes a little time to get Janet out of the car and belted into her chair. By the time we get to the front door either Genesis or Pat is almost always there to hold the door. After twenty-four years I am pretty adept at maneuvering through doors, but it is still greatly appreciated.

But the kicker is when we arrive at the table the chair that I sit in has already been moved to the side of the table, the condiment tray is already placed on the bench opposite where Janet sits, two cups of coffee, two creamers, a glass of water and an empty parfait glass are already lined up on the far side of the table. The parfait glass is Genesis’ contribution. Since it is clear I can see when Janet is drinking and better control how much she takes. If I am not careful she will overload and erupt with coffee all over me and the table. I would never have thought of using a parfait glass to solve that problem, but Genesis did. Like I told her—I sure don’t get that kind of service at home. LOL With all the difficulties, setbacks, abandonment issues, daily worry and fear of tomorrow I cannot tell you how much this simple gesture means. There is surely a special place for people like Genesis, at least I surely hope so. It's the small things that count the most, thank you, Genesis.

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