Caregiving, Diabetes, Health, Latino culture, Parenting our Parents, Quesadilla Generation, Shingles

Another Chapter from the Quesadilla Generation

Most baby boomers, and some Gen X’er’s, are part of the “sandwich generation,” caring for aging parents. There is also an estimated 8 million Latino baby boomers taking care of both elderly parents and children.  Life this past month has added another chapter to my stories about the Quesadilla Generation.

Illness, death, grief, and caring for an aging parent have filled the days this past month. This was not a good time (not that there is a suitable time) for my mom to come down with an illness that took a month to identify and treat.

After two trips to the ER and a couple of doctor visits,she was finally diagnosed with Shingles. This is an acute, painful inflammation of the nerve ganglia, with a rash usually on the back or abdomen and flu-like symptoms. ( I won’t post a photo of Shingles, they are a little nasty looking, hence the food pictures).

If you have had chicken pox in the past, or if you were vaccinated for it, the virus never completely leaves your system. Even long after the itchy rash and infection are gone, the virus lays in a dormant or resting state in the spinal nerve cells of our bodies. The symptoms of the virus disappear, and are kept in check by our healthy immune systems. 

The risk of developing shingles is much higher in older people. The chances of the virus becoming reactivated doubles every 10 years over the age of 50. That’s why doctors recommend the shingles vaccination at age 50. Personally, I’m hesitant to introduce a live virus into my body, but also concerned about getting this illness. I have to think on that one for another week. 

People with a lowered immune system are also at high risk for developing Shingles. My poor mom had a triple whammy. She is over 80 years, diabetic, and has had acute stress from the loss of her sister.

People who have had Shingles can tell you that there is excruciating pain for several days and weeks. Mom said it was like someone jabbing her in the abdomen with a knife, as bad as labor pains, and she has a high pain tolerance. Days went by with her sleeping almost around the clock, wincing whenever anything touched her rash, and barely tolerating broth. She did pluck my sister’s bush of Yerba Buena dry. It’s a great tea for stomach pain.

The best thing we could have hoped for was the around the clock care given by my sister. As mom’s pain subsided a bit she gained strength and worked her way up to finishing a full bowl of chicken ginger soup, pumpkin pear, and whatever my gourmet sister whipped up that was full of healthy ingredients. 

But I was the ‘bad’ sister. When I went over to visit I brought my mom pork tamales and champurrado. Mom took a quick gulp of the champurrado and said she had to hide it from “Nurse Ratchet,” which she now calls my sister. (They are famous for their food fights). With that remark I knew that mom had to be feeling better. 

Champurrado-photo by Sharon123

Today my sister and I took mom to our church’s Women’s Brunch, a beautiful annual affair, and mom had a great time. She felt well enough to take a spoonful or two of various foods without a stomach upset. So well, that after the last Christmas song was sung I saw her (out of the corner of my eye) sliding a few candies from the centerpiece under her plate. Sister and I had to make a grab for the candies before mom swiped them off the table and into her purse. But thank goodness she feels better, even though it means we have to watch her near a candy bowl. 

Take your vitamins, supplements, de-stress, exercise, laugh, and be well. 

2 thoughts on “Another Chapter from the Quesadilla Generation”

  1. Oh Monica, your poor mom. Thank goodness she has you and your sister to help her thru this time. That’s very good advice…vitamins, de-stress, laugh, be well…that’s what I’m trying to do right now in England. This autumn has been just the crowning glory on two stressful years but I’m hopeful that 2013 will be a happy, happy time.


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