Frustrations and Food and Philosophy

I spent a good part of yesterday chasing down a commitment for home health care assistance for my brother on a temporary basis. After assurances by the hospital social services manager that the services were “all set,” I discovered the insurance company needed a doctor’s authorization. In spite of making many, many calls to doctors’ officers, I got no return calls. When my brother’s phone received an automated call from the hospital’s follow-up line (“how was your discharge? do you have any problems?”), I said “yes, there are problems.” No long thereafter, a nurse named Heather called. I explained the issues to her. She said she would explore it and call back. She did. She actually did! And apparently she got some action. Not long thereafter, the insurance company called back to say they had received the authorization they needed. Then, after dinner last night, a nurse called to schedule a visit today between 12:30 and 1:30. Hallelujah! Though I changed the wound packing yesterday myself, a nurse demonstrating how it should be done in a home setting will be great. And if she can bathe my brother (I haven’t a clue how one should use wipes to “bathe” a person with an as-yet unhealed incision and other assorted slices in his skin), all the better. I hope they will agree to come a few times a week. We shall see.

In spite of my experiences with home health care of late, I am not prepared to make a new career out of it. And I hope I do not find myself in a situation like my brother is in, needed to depend on family for home health care for an extended period. It’s no fun for him and it’s no fun for the rest of us. All in all, it’s an uncomfortable, stressful, and decidedly unhappy state of affairs. Healthier choices early in life tend to make such circumstances less likely, but these things could happen to any of us. I hope my brother finds himself energetic and able to get along at home by himself in a month or two. I can’t imagine a long-term experience in which I would be forced to depend on others for my day-to-day needs. I have known people who were in such circumstances. Both the person relying on others and the person providing the care lived in a state of ongoing stress and unhappiness, though neither would have abandoned it.

Achh! Such solemn and stressful thoughts can’t be good on an ongoing basis, so I will turn to something more uplifting. My experience thus far has taught me things I did not know. Including, of all things, how to cook an enormously oversized “arm roast,” a beef cut utterly unknown to me (my guess is that it’s a shoulder roast, although bigger than any I had seen before). My niece’s husband received the monstrous cut from a friend, a podiatrist, who had been given the meat in lieu of cash for podiatric services rendered. Apparently, the foot dude had received far more beef than his freezer could accommodate, so Ignacio received the arm roast as a gift. It was labeled “not for sale” and “Liberty, Texas.” At any rate, I thawed the beast and cooked it yesterday, beginning at 2:00 p.m. I cooked a bunch of veggies in oil, took them out of the gigantic Dutch oven, browned the roast (which I had cut into about 5 pieces so it would fit in the kettle), then returned the veggies and deglazed the pan with a very generous splash (probably half a cup or more) of red wine. After dumping a can of stewed tomatoes and a can of Rotel tomatoes in the pot, I put the covered Dutch oven in the oven (at 300 degrees) and left it until about 6:30 last night. The resulting meal was tender, moist, and tasty. I used only salt, pepper, rosemary, and massive amounts of garlic (whole cloves that I pushed into deep wounds I made in the meat by stabbing it…quite the stress reliever) to season the meat. So, my very first roast. My wife is the roast roaster in our house; I’ve helped (by cutting veggies), but she’s done the heavy lifting. This was my first solo engagement. We microwaved some potatoes to go alongside the meat and enjoyed a very fine meal, if I say so myself.

All of this teaches me something broad and grandiose, though I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. There’s a philosophical lesson buried in the minutia of: rage in the face of inept bureaucracy; contemplation about lifestyle choices and their impact on health; and risking food failure by diving it to cook something large and unknown. I don’t know just what the lesson is, but I’m relatively sure it resides just beneath the surface of the membrane that shields me from knowing what is going on around me. That membrane…that damn membrane…the one that makes me feel slightly like I’m in a fog, but close enough to truth to question that feeling.

Enough said. Off to fight the battles of the day in search of winning the war of time!


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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