Put on Aspic

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Katie-Ellen

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@Amber was wondering last night during pop-ups. A phrase referring in general to embalming something, preserving it in a gelatine stasis. Of culinary origins but often used as a metaphor. eg

If something has been preserved in aspic, eg, 'it has not changed for a very long time- a part of town preserved in aspic for tourists.'

...or in the context of last nights pop-ups, to put the elderly on aspic, referring to the controversy of what represents the best and kindest care for the elderly with advanced dementia. Dosing them to the gills to keep them alive when they would die naturally without the dosing, medicating them or even performing surgery regardless of their quality of life or prospects for improvement? This discussion within society will only become more pressing.

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Having worked as a live-in carer for several elderly clients suffering with dementia, I've seen the confusion and terror this disease brings. One woman knew that she'd probably had "one of her spells", but couldn't remember what had happened. During the night, she'd accused me of kidnapping her, to keep her prisoner in an exact replica of her own home. She didn't recognise her husband of 50 years, who thankfully was asleep, but decided that I'd abducted him too. When people talk about losing their marbles, they do so as if it's going to a funny escapade; the opposite is often true.

With an ageing population, the UK now has 18% of people over the age of 65 (I join 'em in 2019! :)) and 2.4% over the age of 85. It's proof of the short-sightedness of humans, that we think we'll never fall ill, doing nothing to improve care services for when we do.

As a teenager developing my tastes in rock music, I was horrified to come across an album by King Crimson, called Larks' Tongues In Aspic. I was a keen birdwatcher, loving the skylarks that hovered over local fields trilling out their bright song, so the idea that gourmands actually made this repulsive dish made me feel ill. I've since found out that it's untrue, though Europeans do consume larks in their thousands!

And I Think to Myself...What A Wonderful World.: "They Actually Eat That:" Larks.

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Larks. Yes they do. Disgusting. Great delicacy. Foie gras, nasty, I think. Force fed by a tube. Maltese trap birds and blind them with pins, vile beasts. Makes me feel ill too, though livestock farming is often very nasty too. Funny what we care for, looked at logically. I couldn't eat horse. Illogical, but I just feel they are our allies and partners. But I eat eggs, cheese, fish, and fish suffer too. Maybe my beetroot suffered too, being pulled out of the ground. Someone prove it didn't. No- one can. H O W L.

I don't mind getting older. I do mind loss of physical freedom through the damage of illness, and what that might mean for the way I finish if I don't get a lucky break. But at least I've learned how to say no to doctors when they push a treatment but don't have answers. And that lets the doctor off the hook, too. To decline is natural. We've become paranoid about death as a society, when it's suffering that's the enemy. To be propped up with meds beyond one's functional viability isn't truly kindness, just fearfulness, so that we are dragged out by inches. Flu isn't a nice way to go, but they used to call it the old people's friend as it let them out RELATIVELY easily in winter. There didn't used to BE homes full of poor folk with dementia but we're a very medicalized frightened society. Frit. Turned timid. How did that happen? One can download an advance directive free, from the Natural Death Society, saying 'I do no wish to be resuscitated in the event of.....'

Death can be a rescuing angel. And...the Angel of Death, lol.

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The disposal of dead bodies is something that I often refer to in my Cornish Detective novels, as my protagonist detective tries to attend the funerals of murder victims—out of respect, and also to see who else turns up (and who stays away), as well as to ask sensitively worded questions of the mourners, in a search for clues.

So far, murdered corpses have been buried at sea, cremated and scattered on the waves while his fellow surfers performed a paddle-out in his honour, donated to medical research, conventionally interred in a graveyard, freeze-dried in the promession process, and given a natural burial in a cardboard or wicker coffin, in a meadow—with a sapling planted above the grave, to grow nourished by the decomposing body.

As I like trees, I wouldn't mind rejoining the circle of life in that way.
 
Me neither but I'm telling the 'orfspring' just do whatever's least hassle.

I like your detective.
 
More like verging-veggie, for I do solemnly confess to the crime of kefir in the service of lactobacilli not being made by self as it should, and evil (delicious) crumbly Lancashire cheese, and fish'n'chips now and then. Oh yum. But I always liked veg's best, and pineapple is good, because it eats you up right back, just like a hungry wild pig might, given the opportunity, and fair enough I say.
I could be gravitating that general direction.
 
@Amber was wondering last night during pop-ups. A phrase referring in general to embalming something, preserving it in a gelatine stasis. Of culinary origins but often used as a metaphor. eg

If something has been preserved in aspic, eg, 'it has not changed for a very long time- a part of town preserved in aspic for tourists.'

...or in the context of last nights pop-ups, to put the elderly on aspic, referring to the controversy of what represents the best and kindest care for the elderly with advanced dementia. Dosing them to the gills to keep them alive when they would die naturally without the dosing, medicating them or even performing surgery regardless of their quality of life or prospects for improvement? This discussion within society will only become more pressing.

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Thanks Katie.... appreciate the lovely gelatin mold....

Even if it looks disgusting. Cauliflower and broccoli in gelatin... I bet it's a savory gelatin too... which should never ever ever happen. Looks like there might be carrots in there .... ugh.

I may be oversimplifying the issue, maybe partly because both of my parents have passed away, but I think people should be able to decide for themselves, even if what they want is assisted suicide.

Dementia would be the worst thing ever but I doubt anyone knows enough to be able to measure the quality of life of someone with dementia. It must vary from person to person--maybe depending on their value system, which wouldn't necessarily change simply because they don't know why their values are what they are. I'm really skeptical--or cynical. I kind of don't believe doctors can do things like measure experience. I studied psychology for years and years and years but I've come to the conclusion that psychologists don't know much and most don't even know how much they don't know. Which only makes them dangerous troublemakers. We're all just imagining stuff--mostly.

But I have read some articles on dementia. The articles seemed to imply that while people with dementia need a lot of care, and a controlled environment, these things don't necessarily mean they're miserable. So, it's hard to say. I think I might be one of those people who was miserable but ... you never know. Because, there might be something to everything being brand new every day or even from moment to moment. I know, an idealized view of the condition. But... I think it's possible that people might experience repeated moments of wonder along with confusion and disorientation.
 
Thanks Katie.... appreciate the lovely gelatin mold....

Even if it looks disgusting. Cauliflower and broccoli in gelatin... I bet it's a savory gelatin too... which should never ever ever happen. Looks like there might be carrots in there .... ugh.

I may be oversimplifying the issue, maybe partly because both of my parents have passed away, but I think people should be able to decide for themselves, even if what they want is assisted suicide.


Savoury gelatine...I don't fancy it at ALL...bleurgh......but it does look very beautiful.

Completely agree @Amber. Wasn't advocating doing them in... lol. (Although my sprogs have been known to offer to leave out a banana skin on the stairs....)

People with dementia slip in and out of it. Might suddenly come right as rain again. Might go frightening places or happy places in their minds, with physical clues as to which it is .

I suspect that sometimes what they actually have is an untreated UTI. Sort that, they come back to themselves. I've seen that happen too often. My mother in law had seemingly gone totally gaga and I remembered it happening to my grandmother. I rang the matron in the hospital. I rang the consultant. They insisted there was was no UTI ...they had tested etc etc. Oh wait, hang on..three days later, they find there's a UTI after all. Out come the antibiotics (again, not those again, groan, but...) and my mother in law starts making more sense.

How many others, I wonder?

I hope it was not too tough for your parents and you, bless you.

My father died alone in his home, aged 77. There had been warning signs but he didn't like taking his water tablets. GP warned him, stop taking them and....He stopped taking them. No aspic. A very private, independent man, he had lived alone forty years, but always 'there' and very much adored.. I was the last person to speak to him and warned my mother it was imminent. Days I said, the feeling was so strong, but he was clear as could be as to the risks of his situation, and one couldn't supervise him, or telephone him every day without it being a nuisance to him. His way of going, not what any of us would have wished for him, was all the same entirely consistent with his own way of doing things.

There can be no rushing to judgement at an an individual level, as to what quality of life means, but the conversation's not going to go away.
 
Hope things go well for him.

I hope so too, Kirsten.

And you may well be on to something there. I was talking with a doctor not so long ago....and he very much connected BSE/CJD with certain chronic human conditions that are not yet widely recognised as being of infectious origin. There's a body of UK (and US) doctors, 'mavericks,' mainstream trained, ex- NHS, exploring possible treatment approaches for these sorts of problems. Too slow for too many very sadly.
 
@Amber was wondering last night during pop-ups. A phrase referring in general to embalming something, preserving it in a gelatine stasis. Of culinary origins but often used as a metaphor. eg

If something has been preserved in aspic, eg, 'it has not changed for a very long time- a part of town preserved in aspic for tourists.'

...or in the context of last nights pop-ups, to put the elderly on aspic, referring to the controversy of what represents the best and kindest care for the elderly with advanced dementia. Dosing them to the gills to keep them alive when they would die naturally without the dosing, medicating them or even performing surgery regardless of their quality of life or prospects for improvement? This discussion within society will only become more pressing.

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I've heard preserved in amber, but preserved in aspic is new to me. And not appealing. That picture looks as if those might be preserved body parts.
 
@Amber, what about freeze-dried or flash-frozen? Or must there be gelatin?

Yeah... fossilized sap... it's always made me laugh. Cuz, sap. I'm probably the only one who gets the joke.

I'm not pro gelatin at all. I think KT was just showing me what aspic looks like. Now that I see it, I seem to remember it being a 'dish'. I must have read about it in a book or something. But it seems to me all gelatin dishes are like fruitcake--no one really likes them.
 
Amber is a beautiful word, name, sound and substance.

Electric indeed.

Yes...pic was purposes of illustrating the etymological origins. Yuk.
 
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