Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Birthday Fix (The stroke, Part 10)

"Let's go to Lucky's Drugs," my mom suggested.
I looked up from my sudoku puzzle. "We just went there yesterday. You want to go again? What for?"
"Well, you have a birthday coming, don't you?" she smiled.
She remembered! This was good. Since her stroke a month earlier her speech and thinking had been convoluted. Her doctor said it would improve with time, but for now we had to watch her. The fact she remembered I had a birthday coming was impressive, considering she didn't know what year it was a few weeks earlier. It's like old times! I thought. She remembers my birthday! She wants to get me a card!
At the drug store she insisted I stand back and let her get my birthday surprise. I waited, wondering what it would be. Cards, gift books, stuffed toys and corny "To my dearest daughter" trinkets lined the shelves. What did she have in mind? I wondered.
Ten minutes later she hadn't returned. Was she still picking out the perfect card? Maybe there were two she liked and she was still deciding which one would be the best?
I checked on her. She wasn't in the card isle. She wasn't in the gift isle. Where was she? I searched further. Had she wandered out of the store? Was she lost?
I found her at the pharmacy, paying for a box of Nicorette Gum. She caught my eye a minute later and said, "Let's go."
I'd been had! Birthday card my butt- it was all a ruse to get her nicotine fix. She'd quit smoking years ago but we never knew about her gum stash until after her stroke. She got careless about her hiding places. I tried to take her gum away from her once and damn near got my arm dislocated. I think if she had to chose between rescuing me or the last box of Nicorette gum from an oncoming train, the gum had a good chance.
Not to be too hard on her- many (current or former) smokers I know say that nicotine craving is an insidious thing that hangs on like a turbocharged robo-tick. It nags, prods, harasses, calls way past midnight etc..
I checked with my mom's doctor about the gum. He said that while it wasn't exactly healthy, it was better than smoking, so she could chew it in moderation if she chose. Oh well. At least you can't burn the house down with gum.

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