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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Good Day Sunshine

We seem to have turned a corner. Mom has finished her course of antibiotics, and is doing much better. She was more her positive self and we laughed and sang together.

As I arrived at their building, a social worker was calling on the intercom to be let in for a surprise visit. The social worker was from Matav, the organization that helped my dad hire our lovely foreign caregiver; they try to send someone every two months to check on the families they assist. Mom was angered by this “intruder” in her apartment, and Daddy had to escort her out of the room so that I could update the social worker on Mom’s condition.

Understandably, Mom feels slighted when we talk about her while she’s in the room. Mom comprehends just enough to realize she is the subject of our conversation, and it makes her feel as if she doesn’t matter. She sulks and swears as a way to get attention. When the social worker asked if anyone else lived in the apartment, Mom angrily huffed, “Just me, Naomi Cohen. I live her too.” By the end of the short visit, Mom was all smiles: the social worker had spoken directly to her and paid her compliments.

Despite the continued angry outbursts, Mom’s health is definitely improving. She is no longer rushing to the bathroom or experiencing extreme discomfort. Urinary Tract Infections(UTI) are notoriously difficult to get rid of and I don’t relish the idea of a recurrence.

As such, we’re taking some precautions:

Daddy has removed the bathroom lock so that Mom can’t inadvertently lock herself in. Instead, there’s now a sign on the bathroom door that reads, “Occupied,” when the bathroom is in use.

We’re also in the market for a bed monitoring system. There are quite a number available. In general, they operate as follows: a pad under the sheets (or mattress or even under the rug by the bed) senses changes in weight when a person rises (or steps on it) and then sends a signal to a cordless monitor. This is good not only for dementia patients who may wander at night but for those individuals with a tendency to fall out of bed. We’ll be able to know in real time if Mom is up and about during the night.

We’re not convinced the UTI is gone for good. We still have to check Mom’s kidneys for any damage, and convince her to give another urine sample. We’ll also try to prevent and reduce the risk of UTIs by drinking lots of water, promoting healthy bathroom habits, taking vitamin C, using cranberry extract and other over-the-counter remedies, and avoiding foods that are bladder irritants.

Sometimes I feel that we are hastening down a path strewn with rocky challenges; other times it is as if we are plodding along a rutted road going nowhere. I bless and curse the future in equal measures knowing how hard it is to deal with Mom in her current state, yet also craving the genuine laughter and joy that Mom is still capable of sharing with us.

Today was a good day. I’m so relieved and happy, I think I’ll bake a cake.

Peanut butter is one of my favorite foods. I hated it as a child, and certainly never ate the ubiquitous Israeli “bamba” snack. In high school, at a conference I attended for my youth group, I remember being so desperately hungry that I took to eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Who knew it was so good? I was hooked from then on.

Peanut Butter Cake

Dense and moist, this cake literally crumbles in your mouth.

1 cup oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup white sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup peanut butter (preferably natural)

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Add sugars and peanut butter. Stir well. Add flour and baking soda. When mixed, add chocolate chips. Transfer batter to a baking dish and bake at 350° for 30 to 50 minutes. Top of cake should be lightly browned and inside should be moist.

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