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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

The Mystery of the Ripped Pants

Twice now in the space of a few weeks, we’ve been handed a pair of Mom’s summer pants with a big rip on the left hand side. The tear is near the seam, but also cuts into the soft, pliable fabric of her pants.

“Do you know how they ripped? Has this happened to the pants of any other residents,” I asked the duty nurse.

“No, there’s nothing in the log book. You’re unique,” she chuckled.

Hmm. What could this be from? After the second incident, I checked Mom’s bed and the chairs she generally sits in for any loose nails, exposed wires, or sharp elements that may have ripped her pants. I didn’t find anything unusual.

The first pair could be salvaged, the second pair was beyond saving. So off I trekked to the local mall where we’d bought other clothes for Mom. The two ripped pair of pants had been three-quarter length. I decided to buy long pants as I’ve noticed that Mom’s skin often feels cool to the touch. When you sit in an air conditioned room all day without exercising, your body temperature does not rise. I wanted to make sure that her knees and calves were covered.

I was grateful to find several styles of pants to choose from, all XL and XXL so that the staff can easily dress her and they’ll fit comfortably on Mom.

The next day I arrived back at Mom’s care facility to deliver the clothes. I made a point to ask again if they’d discovered how the pants had ripped. And I got an answer I did not expect.

It turns out that at least one pair of Mom’s pants ripped in a tug-of-war with one of the staff while they were trying to remove them.

This is hard to write about, the invasion of Mom’s privacy that is part and parcel of this disease. Mom can no longer function independently in the bathroom. She must be washed and dressed by others. She wears diapers. She is still cognizant enough of what’s happening to know that it is not the norm for someone to help her with such personal needs. I don’t think she’s aware that she’s actually wearing diapers; though I do know that she gets upset when she consciously lets go and uses the diaper. She knows something about this process is off but she is also incapable of consistently using the toilet on any regular basis.

We’ve known for a while that Mom is antagonistic to the staff that must shower and dress her, and change her diaper. Apparently, they sometimes take off her pants when she’s in bed for a nap so that she won’t wet them if she has an accident. It appears that a small hole in the seam burst as Mom pulled with all her strength to keep her pants up—shouting insults at the top of her lungs—while they were trying to pull them down.

Mom has been there for a year, so it’s unclear why the pants ripped now, given her volatility. If something has changed, what is it? And what can be done to quell Mom’s anger? Can the staff try singing to her, or talking in English rather than the more common Hebrew and Russian? Will she understand them regardless of what language they speak to her in? Is it the thinner material in her summer clothing that is to blame? Or, should I let this go, think of it as a one-time (ok, two-time) event that like so many other aspects of Mom’s day, are now out of my control?

The only staff member who is able to handle Mom without a fuss is Michael. Not only does Mom think he’s charming and handsome, but he is calming and genuinely cares about her well-being. He is solicitous and kind, and I know she is in good hands when he assists her. Mom readily accompanies him regardless of where they’re going. All he has to do is hold out his hand to her and say, “Madam,” in a sort of French accent, and she unhesitatingly rises from her chair to walk with him.

“I guess we can’t all be Michael,” the duty nurse said, bringing Michael into the conversation.

We had a good laugh at the absurdity of the whole situation. Mom was sitting in her usual spot in the common room with her earphones on. She was singing loudly, waving her arms to the music that only she could hear.

That’s how I left her. I kissed her forehead, told her I was going home to make dinner, and left her singing her heart out. I’m hoping the staff will work with her to reduce some of the anger she retains at having to be changed, and give her back some dignity. Or maybe they’ll assign Michael to be her constant knight in shining armor. That would work, too.

I’ve been wanting to make a cauliflower crust for a while now. It is a known gluten-free low-carb alternative to pizza dough, and with a little time on my hands after a hectic week last week (but I do miss you, Simon!), I decided to try it. I actually made this crust over a two-day period, so it didn’t feel like an overwhelming task. Not only was it tasty, but it didn’t collapse under the weight of the sauce, cheese and toppings. I would definitely make it again.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I used to make pizza once a week for my kids. They’d help brush on sauce and sprinkle on the cheese, and it was a truly enjoyable enterprise. We’d make it on a large pan so that each child could choose toppings for their section of the pizza. That was a sure way to cut down on fighting and on who got specific slices. Nowadays it’s just me and my husband Jeff so we don’t make it very often anymore. We both enjoyed this alternative pizza.

1 head cauliflower, minced

2 medium eggs

½ tsp basil

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp garlic crystals

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste


After cleaning cauliflower, chop into florets and mince in food processor. Spread on baking-paper covered baking tray and bake for 15 minutes at 375° F / 190° C. Remove from tray when cool and wrap in a thin towel, squeezing as much water out of the cauliflower as possible. Place cauliflower in bowl and mix with remaining ingredients. Line a 9 in / 23 cm baking pan with baking paper. Place cauliflower in middle of pan and flatten evenly with hands. Bake at 420° F / 200° C for 20 minutes until crust starts to brown. To make the pizza, cover crust with tomato sauce almost to the edge of the crust. Top with mozzarella and parmesan, veggies of your choice and bake at 375° F / 190° C for 20 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Remove pizza from pan by lifting it out on the baking paper, then slice and eat!

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