Sunday, December 11, 2016

Chicken Salad for my Heart and Soul

In January of 1984, I was due to deliver our first child at the local hospital.  For some reason it seemed that everyone I talked to mentioned that I would have to eat their chicken salad while I was there, because it was apparently amazing.  So, for weeks, as I packed my bag and anticipated the arrival of our baby, I practically was salivating as I waited to have this renowned sandwich.  In labor by 5:30 AM on the morning of the 23rd, excited over the (I thought) impending arrival of our little one, we left for the hospital.  Surviving over the next 18 hours with ice chips, even during the lunch hour when my husband went to the cafeteria and got, what else?---a chicken salad sandwich, everyone----everyone----promised me that no matter what time that baby finally arrived, they would get me the long-awaited sandwich.

Baby wasn't swayed at all by that promise, and after a long day trying every labor and delivery option available, he arrived at 11:02 PM via Caesarean section, and general anesthesia.  If you've ever had surgery, you know that means your first meal(s) are clear liquid.  Chicken broth. Red jello. Hot tea. Apple juice. Lemon Italian ice.  Next meal: Beef broth. Green jello.  Hot tea. Cranberry juice. Cherry Italian ice.  Five days in the hospital, and I never got my chicken salad sandwich.

Fast forward to March, 1990, and we're waiting for baby #2.  Scheduled Caesarean this time, so no empty promises of my sandwich being ordered right after delivery.  But this time I was only in the hospital three days, and it just wasn't long enough for the clear liquids to end and the hospital menu to offer chicken salad.

Over the next years, Brian has become quite the chicken salad chef at our house.  I boil the chicken, and he picks it.  Technically, he hand shreds it, which I think is the secret.  I add salt, pepper, chopped onion and celery, sometimes a dash of Old Bay, and just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together.  It's not unusual for me to boil 6 chicken breasts, so we enjoy Pa's World Famous Chicken Salad for several days, either on fresh white bread or seeded rye.

Baby #1 grew up, met and married a wonderful girl.  On our very first visit to the home of our co-in-laws ( that's really the official relationship, although we prefer 'close friends'), we discovered that co-mother-in-law makes an AMAZING chicken salad.  In the past 8 years, whenever we've gathered for showers, birthdays, house moves, or any other large or small event, I knew Cathy's World Famous Chicken Salad would make the day extra special-----and on those moving days  it was my incentive to keep working!  Hers is always served on tender croissants-----I can taste it now!

It's December, 2016, and 10 days ago I was admitted to a different local hospital for knee replacement surgery.  Things have change a lot in 30+ years, and I was barely out of surgery when I was brought a tray of REAL food (truth be told, I was looking forward to at least one of those clear liquid meals----at least for the Italian ice!). Much to my joy, as I perused the menu for the next day, what was available but a chicken salad sandwich!  Decision made!  It was delicious, and when they asked for my lunch order the following day, it was easy-----repeat!  Whole grain bread, perfect lunch.

Yesterday, to my surprise, co-mother-in-law came by with her sister (co-aunt-in-law?), bringing two kinds of soup, rolls, cookies, croissants and chicken salad!!!  I can't wait until lunch today----soup and sandwich and cookies!!!!  Yum.  I think chicken salad may be one of my love languages.

It's only 6:00 AM----wonder if that could be my breakfast??

Monday, November 28, 2016

THIS Week, NEXT Week

So THIS week has arrived, the week when I get new knees!  I've always had bad knees, creaking and cracking since I was a teenager. In more recent years, it's gotten harder to walk, to stand, to sit, to climb stairs----shoot, most of those are practically impossible now.  I've missed out on so many things the past few years, and my quality of life has been affected.  It's meant that  not only have I not gotten to do things, but often my husband has missed out as well, because he's chosen to stay with me rather than to go and do what his legs are strong enough to do.  Three weeks ago I bit the bullet and visited an orthopedist who agreed it was time, and scheduled my surgery for Friday.


When people find out I'm doing both knees, their first reaction is usually shock.  Then I explain my reasoning:

  • I was scarred by having my wisdom teeth removed over three different surgeries----I'm all for "one and done" now.
  • I know this is going to be hard, and I don't want to do one knee and then put off getting the second one done.
  • I don't want to miss two recovery periods from work.  Let's get this all done at once.

Several have asked, "Did you injure your knees? Did you play sports in school?" Oh, that is such a funny one!  Ask my brother, who once said as I was attempting to play tennis, that he was going to make a movie about un-coordination, starring me!  So no, no sports injuries.

I'm ready.  My bag for the hospital is about packed, I've been doing my pre-op exercises faithfully to strengthen my calves and quads, I have a borrowed walker, a GORGEOUS hot pink, roses-covered cane for when I'm progressing, a safety bar in the shower, a new shower mat so I don't fall, and a shower bench.  We had taller toilets installed (ahh, should have done that long ago!). I've  got projects ready and stored in a chest next to my chair so I'll have things to do, when PT isn't here 3 times a week!  I have books downloaded to my phone.

I'm ready.  As I sit here at 2:00 AM with a heating pad on my knees, as I have every night for the past several months, I look forward to sleeping pain-free.  I know that won't happen immediately, but from everything I've read and heard, the pain after surgery won't be IN my knees.  I should be able to feel a difference there immediately.  Of course there will be other pain from incisions, etc., but they have good meds for that.  The PT's will have me out of bed and trying to walk just a few hours post surgery, and I'm determined to do everything I can at every session.

This weekend we ran a bunch of errands to get ready.  We parked close to stores so I didn't have far to walk.  In some stores I stayed near the front while my husband went to find what we needed way in the back of the store.  I struggled to climb in and out of the car.  I strained to stand up from the pew in church.  But NEXT week....

Yeah, I know it won't all be better immediately.  I realize there's a lot of hard work ahead.  But my theme is now "NEXT week."  A while back, as our granddaughter was grasping the concept of time, anything that had happened previously was described as having taken place "LAST night."  So I'm adapting her phrase, changing it to "NEXT week," to account for all the things I'll be able to do with my new and improved knees.

Knees are mentioned a lot in the Bible, most often as "kneel before the Lord" or "fall on your knees"----just the thought hurts! (till NEXT week....). But I found several other references that fit:

Isaiah 35:3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;

Job 4:4 your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.

My favorite life passage is Hebrews 12:1-2a:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

As I read further in that chapter tonight (this morning?), I found verses 11-13a:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet.

I'm ready.  We've cleared paths, readied our house, and I'm focused on the discipline it will take, no matter how unpleasant.

See you NEXT week!