Don't Try This At Home

The Sandwich Generation is Baloney

By Bob on October 5, 2009 8:16 AM

Sandwich Generation.jpg

My mother was admitted to the intensive care unit in a large metropolitan hospital recently. 

One minute she's sitting in her living room.  The next minute she has more wires coming out of her than the back of my entertainment center. 

In between the flurry of activity I received updates from medical professionals of different shapes, sizes and nationalities.  It was like watching CNN during a global crisis.  We had our own U.N. Security Council inside the Neuro ICU.  

I wished for one of those funky U.N. earpieces that allows the translators to speak directly to you.  Maybe I would have made a little more sense of the situation.

This miracle blanket is invisible, she explained.

"Pulse ox is below 60, we need to get a mask started or we'll have to intubate," a RN in faded blue scrubs whispered in a voice that was even more breathless than my mother's.  Luckily Charlotte makes me watch ER and Grey's Anatomy religiously.  I had no idea what they were talking about.

"Was there a question in there?" I asked, feeling more than a little stupid. 

"Does she have a DNR?" the RN continued.  At least this sounded like a question.  I jumped at the chance to answer.

"No," I said remembering what I had learned about Do-Not-Ressucitate orders from an old E.R. episode. 

My mother stabilized.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  That's when the fun started.

The meds!  The week of ICU incarceration left her dazed and confused.  Time didn't exist in a room where every day was the same. 

On one visit she excitedly told me about the amazing new medical breakthrough she'd encountered:  the virtual blanket.   This miracle blanket is invisible, she explained. 

Like most titles, this is mostly ceremonial.  It won't get you a free 6" Itallian BMT at your local Subway.

When she complained of being too cold, the nurse simply heated up a clear plastic packet  in the microwave and injected it into her PICC line.  She warmed up immediately.  Kind of like instant oatmeal with oxycotton instead of milk. 

Of course this never happened.  The nurses did enjoy the story and I secretly think they're keeping the idea for their next patient who repeatedly asks for late-night pain meds.  Then again, if you see this product advertised on late-night TV remember you first saw it on The Boomer Brief.

I came away from this experience a little wiser and wearier.  The future, it seems to me, is likely to be filled with more experiences just like this.  Dealing with aging parents is walking a tighrope between emotion and emergency action.  There is no net on this high wire act.  Slip up and you're one Wallenda away from kissing the pavement.

Demographers call us the "sandwich" generation.  Boomer sons and daughters caught between their children and their elderly parents.  Like most titles, this is mostly ceremonial.  It won't get you a free 6" Itallian BMT at your local Subway.   And so far as I know, we don't have any set meeting schedule.

We're a "virtual" organization, like my mother's virtual blanket.  You'll find us late at night huddled in ICU waiting rooms speaking in hushed tones on our cell phones to spouses and siblings.  Of course, none of us has any answers.  We just like to vent.

I am now someone who has silently morped into two parents, wedged between my responsiblities as a father and my duties as a son.  It's a balancing act that millions juggle each day.  As members of this sandwich generation, I think we can all agree we're not heroes. 

We do, however, TiVo a hell of a lot of E.R.

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Guest Room

Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

ChickenBurritoBowlEverydayDiabetes 600.jpg

By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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Windy City

It's been almost 18 years since Alison Krauss gave us a solo album, but the wait is over with Windy City. The release (her fifth solo studio album) features ten covers of classic songs (and some bonus tracks) she picked with producer Buddy Cannon.

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