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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green


I took Mom to get a blood test today but we left the clinic with her veins intact.

We got to the clinic, took a number, and sang a few songs while we waited for our turn with the nurse. I joked with Mom that we were going to visit the vampires who required a taste of blood. Finally, our number was called. As Mom sat down at the nurse’s station, I whispered to her about Mom's illness and suggested she reach out to Mom.

The nurse was patient and friendly. But Mom refused to show the nurse her arms. It's not like Mom was talking so coherently, but there were absolute moments of clarity when she knew what she was saying.

"I'm a real person," she announced. "I'm a proper person. And I don’t like people talking about me."

Strike one.

Mom rambled on for a few minutes. "I don't share my blood with anyone," she declared.

Strike two.

We had been in this exact situation before, but previously Mom had been compliant. In fact, once, when I took her for an ultrasound, she lay on the table singing, "I've got you under my skin," which was so funny that we both laughed and the nurse asked her to stay still.

This was different. I don't think Mom understood what was being asked of her, but she knew enough to refuse to cooperate with us. Many words have lost their meaning to Mom. When she gets dressed in the mornings, she cannot distinguish between skirt, shirt, bra. When she's in the shower, she doesn't know what soap is. She alternates between anger at being told the obvious ("Of course I've washed my face. What do you take me for, an imbecile?”), and absolute incomprehension at the task before her.

"I am not interested in what you have to say. Today is not my time to give blood."

Strike three.

I looked at the nurse. How important were the blood tests? They were requested by her doctor to track Mom’s changing physical reality. As tests go, taking and testing blood is a mildly intrusive way to check what's happening in the body. What were our alternatives? We both realized that there was nothing we could do or say—apart from physically forcing her—that would make Mom change her mind.

"Ok, that's it," I said. "We're leaving now."

We went back to the waiting room and had a cool drink of water. Several minutes passed and I again told Mom that we had to get some blood tests done. Nope. It didn't make any dent in her intransigence.

I made the right decision by not forcing the issue. I just wonder if I could have done or said something different that would have persuaded Mom to cooperate. I hold out hope that the next time I can be more persuasive.

When you need to get out of a slump, a good spicy meal can wake you up. The kick in this curried peanut lentil dish will have your tongue in great flexible shape for your next repartee.

Curried Peanut Lentils

This seemingly strange combination of ingredients yields a powerful taste with real kick.

1 cup brown lentils

2 cups water

1 onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp curry

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

½ cup water

1 tsp salt

Red pepper flakes to taste


In a small saucepan, cook lentils in 2 cups water until water has been absorbed and lentils are soft. While lentils are cooking, sauté onion and garlic in a frying pan until onions begin to brown. Add spices and water, then stir in peanut butter. Sauce will thicken almost immediately. Add more water if sauce is too thick. Simmer sauce on low flame until lentils are ready. Drain lentils and add to curried peanut sauce.

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