Cooking now, then and way before then.

cooking, assembling spices

Cooking is now quite a challenge for me. Oxygen and flames don’t mix. This means being organized. Assemble everything beforehand, turn off the oxygen and light the gas. That is what I was doing earlier this week, a bit miffed that I could no longer multi-task and continue my preparations while the gas burner was lit.

As I was working, I was thinking.

Cooking a curry

Now – I buy ground spices. (I used to have a small grinder, but now I buy the spices.)

Then – In my mother’s day, I don’t remember eating a curry, but if curry flavoring was needed, this is what was on option.

Way before then – I doubt the Biblical cooks made curries, but they certainly made spicy meals. 

spices for cooking curry

They would have had to walk to the market, buy what they wanted, bring it home and grind it… probably with a hand mill. Spices were expensive so only a small quantity at a time would be bought.

Cooking Then

Growing up in the cold climate of Scotland, my meals as a child were starchy. Bread, bread rolls (they were a treat) and potato soup. (It was made with root vegetables, primarily potatoes.)

(Now, if I am able to keep the oxygen off, there are a lot more options.)

Cooking way before then

I did a great deal of research about this so that my books were as accurate as possible. Primarily, people of the New Testament ate vegetables, usually cooked in a stew, and often flavored with spices.

Most people probably ate meat only a few times a year, generally when animals were slaughtered for religious sacrifices, weddings or other special family celebrations or visits.

(In Hold the Faith, the celebratory meal after Benjamin’s baptism was chicken. What was left over was added to the next day’s vegetable stew.)

Cleaning and preparing the vegetables.

They were washed, but homes back then did not have indoor taps. Water had to be fetched from a well, so people would have been ‘water-wise.’

When vegetables were cleaned, they were cut, or chopped and put in a clay pot. Meals were generally cooked in clay pots in either clay ovens, or ovens made from earth. The most common way of cooking food was by boiling.

ancient cooking pot

Cooking was time consuming

Bread was a staple food.

It took possibly 2-3 hours of hard labor every day to make enough to feed a family with five. (In Hold the Faith there were six adults living in the home.)

Once the dough was made, it was cooked in different ways. One way was to cook it on the hot stones of a cooking fire.  Then there was the ‘jar’ oven.’ This was a huge clay pot that was smaller at the opening in the top; a fire was started on the inside to get it hot, and the dough was put against the outer part to cook. The pit-oven was a pottery lined hole in the ground that was heated with a fire that was put aside, and the dough was baked on top of the hot clay.

cooking bread in jar oven

Cooking now

So, by the time I pondered all of this, I realized how blessed I am. I have a gas cooker, a refrigerator and a freezer. I also have a microwave.

All of these, plus a telephone (even a land-line one) would have been very useful to warn of unexpected guests being brought home. (Again, as happened in Hold the Faith, and other books in the series.)

More musings

Susan

Hold the Faith is the first in a series of five Christian, historical fiction novels. They are set in the late 1st century AD and are followed by four novellas, (only three finished.) The novellas follow the lives of some of the ‘side’ characters.

I am asking people to buy, or recommend these books as I am currently fundraising for a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. Please ignore the Amazon review status. Many of my reviews have fallen victim to the unknown bot that Amazon uses to remove what they consider reviews from friends, family, or purchased reviews. Some people who have told me their reviews have been removed, I have never met, nor am I likely to meet them. Still, I think even Amazon does not know how this algorithm of theirs works.

Link to the fund-raising page, so that you may read about my current setup and my goal.

Thank you.

Fund-raising page for POC

Living with oxygen 24/7

let us fly

It was slow, almost unnoticeable at first, my need for oxygen. However, my difficulty climbing stairs, or walking uphill eventually increased until even walking on even ground made me breathless.

Then dressing or undressing meant I had to have a ‘break,’ a sit down, and making the bed was done in stages.

Then two things happened. My physiotherapist noticed my difficulty and took me on a six-minute walk test. We did not go far. My oxygen levels dropped quickly. Her comment… ‘You need to be on oxygen’ and she sent the result to my doctor who was on holiday at the time.

Then, rather reluctantly, I took my son’s advice and underwent a sleep study. The result of that had the person giving me the results say I needed to see the doctor immediately, my oxygen levels were dangerously low. She had me ring the surgery from her office.

In the metropolitan area a General Practitioner cannot prescribe oxygen so I was referred to the hospital. In the meantime, so that I could be factual at the appointment I bought an oximeter (Measures oxygen levels) and discovered my oxygen level is normally low, exercise takes it to an extremely low level.

Start of the journey to home oxygen

Well, first there was a hospital appointment to Pulmonary Physiology. I was there last year for a flight simulation test, and I had spent a lot of time there in previous years with my late husband. He had the tests done every six months. 

I also had arterial blood taken. It’s painful. (Mainly because the artery is deep and the doctor has to find it.)

“An arterial-blood gas (ABG) test measures the amounts of arterial gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. An ABG test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the radial artery with a syringe and a thin needle…”
Wikipedia

oxygen testing blood gases

Then came all the breathing tests. At least nowadays the ‘box’ the patient is shut in for one of the tests is clear.

oxygen breathing test

Yes, a peg on the nose is used.

Oxygen at home

oxygen concentrator and oxygen cyclinders

A truck delivered an oxygen concentrator, three medium sized oxygen cylinders – a word about them later – and a large one in case the power goes out.

The medium-sized ones are for going out. Portable is not a word I would have used. At five kg it is a challenge to lift, never mind to put in my four-wheel walker.

Living alone, the eighteen metre (fifty-nine feet) tubing is reasonably easy to not trip. Roll it up going one way and unroll it the other way.

Bed, well that’s more of a problem. I have to make sure the tubing crosses the bed but is not in the way on the floor if I have to get up in the dark.

Breathing...

This is ‘sneezin’ season here, and since there was a lot of rain all the trees, shrubs and ‘the bush’ is alive and beautiful with blossoms. (Pollen-causing blossom.)

When my nose runs or is blocked, the oxygen cannot get through. Then there are the nosebleeds. (I won’t show you the pile of tissues from the last nosebleed. Blood thinners clearly aggravate the problem.)

So, living with oxygen is a challenge

As my home help said, ‘You think it is going to be simple, and you are going to be able to breathe easily, but it’s not, is it?”

No, it is not, but it is not impossible. It is just a question of finding work-arounds – and paying for home delivery on shopping.

The first few hours with the noisy machine purring, hissing and popping away had me glowering at it from my study and wondering how much electricity it was chewing up. It is on twenty-four hours.

There is a whole list of safety rules:

Clean the filter once a week.

Keep the oxygen bottles away from any source of heat.

Stay three metres from my gas cooker. So, it has to be briefly turned off so I can cook.

Stay away from smokers. There are rules in Australia about not smoking near entrances to shopping centres, not allowed at all on hospital grounds – but smokers are not good at keeping the rules. Not having a go at smokers, for many it is stress relief as well as addiction. But if that ‘lady’ had kept coming at me the other day – would she have blown us both up? Maybe. There were nine hours of oxygen in that bottle. When I asked her to stay away because I was using oxygen, there was a torrent of abuse directed at me.

There is a book with all the do’s and don’ts, but it is the simple daily things, like showering and hair-washing, bed making and simple household chores which contribute to the learning curve.

Another learning challenge

Susan

Life as a Carer

It is lonely being a Carer

Anyone who is chronically ill needs a carer, or carers.

Last week I shared an item that I reacted to… that of a man, who was refused a flight booked by a hospital for a lung transport.

The news article (Adelaide Advertiser, South Australia) which prompted the blog was about a man with Pulmonary Fibrosis who had come up as a match for a lung transplant and been refused a seat on the flight the hospital doing the transplant had booked. I will not go into the details of that post, although I do need to make an observation.

One… there might not have been oxygen available on that flight for the man. This seems strange since the flight was booked by the hospital who would have done the transplant had the man been able to arrive there in time.

However, it also stirred up my thinking about the Carer… the person or people who care for the person with a chronic illness.

Unless a person who has a chronic illness lives alone and has no visitors, that person has at least one Carer.

Life as a Carer…

Life as a Carer often involves being a ‘parental’ figure. Often the person being cared for does not have an accurate view of his or her condition. This is a hard part of the carer’s job. Being the one who assesses what is needed for every hospital appointment, how to travel there safely and what medications might be missed/needed during the time away from home.

But carers often have the unenviable role of ‘nurse’, and – there’s more…

Carers often have to learn…

Carer has to learn

About the disease, its treatment, and management

About the medications prescribed including what they are for, any special instructions and potential side effects

Sometimes these put the Carer into the role of ‘antagonist’ to the person they are trying to support, often the person they love.

The carer needs…

  • Skills to help manage the fatigue, pain, frustration, and isolation that people with chronic disease often get – as well as their own.
  • To be able to communicate effectively with health professionals by answering questions accurately, asking your own questions and making sure you understand the information provided to you. (Talk about the information needed with the person you are caring for, if possible, and write the questions down and take them with you.)

One of my huge frustrations, and it was my late husband’s also…  was the specialist/doctor wanted him to answer questions. However, he did not understand the terms they used, and having been a nurse, I did. But, at least to begin with they did not want to hear my observations on his condition.

This had a counterpoint (opposing viewpoint) – sometimes my observations and his – clashed.

I remember attending a workshop for carers… At the beginning we were given a list of all the roles a Carer performed. It was a long list.

Something else a Carer needs –

… Understanding – or at least acceptance.

If you know someone who is a Carer – try to ‘cut them some slack’ – one of the first things to happen is they become ‘unreliable.’

  • They cannot make arrangements to have friends come to visit, or go to visit them. Many times they will have to cancel any arrangements. So, either the friends drop them, or they withdraw rather than face the embarrassment of having to cancel… again.
    • You will have to understand. (Or give up on the person.) It would be kinder to expect nothing and accept that it is a black or white spectrum. There are no shades of gray in this kind of life.

If you decide to care for the Carer… and the person.

  • Be understanding.
  • Accept that arrangements might change without notice, and do not take offense if they do.
  • Be a person they can trust with their feelings.

Being a Carer for a loved one is a very difficult ‘role’, so you need to accept that it is a way of life – their way of life. Lives which revolve around medical appointments, tests, medication times, and sometimes hospital admissions. These are the ‘outings’ for the Carer and person being cared for.

Being a Carer – or a person needing a carer is a very lonely place to be. Ask any Carer and they will tell you how difficult it is to hide their feelings and struggles from the person they are caring for. Ask anyone needing care and, depending on their insight about their Carer, they will tell you how much it hurts them to see the person caring for them struggling to cope with their care.

Whether the person is a Carer of an adult, a child, or someone in between, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia – in spite of differences in the type of care, they face the same loneliness. Sometimes the Carer never ‘gets’ their friends back. Without a supportive family or network, isolation sets in and becomes a way of life.

On the outside, isolated, although near people. It is a lonely place to be.

Loneliness of a Carer, in a crowd

Just thinking, and sharing.

Susan