Heidi, the Super Bowl, Secret Garden, Pollyanna and Me

The SuperBowl has been on my mind as it has recently passed.  My family weren’t football fans but totally baseball mad.  Tom watched it in full for the first time in decades.  Anyway, my mind was just drifting along and I remembered “Heidi loves the Super Bowl”.  Yes, you have to be of a certain age to remember and appreciate that bumper/sticker joke.  I was one of the children breathlessly awaiting the broadcast of Heidi.  I don’t recall the exact details as I was a child and football not a religion practiced in my home, but it was at some critical juncture in the game, that the network cut over to Heidi. It must have been around 7 o’clock and of course, on a Sunday evening I was one of those children who adored Heidi.  It was one of my favorite childhood books.  I would not have been allowed to stay up late on a school night.

Heidi

Heidi’s story, as filtered through memory – Heidi is a miserable child and sent to live with her grumpy, mean Grandfather in the Alps.  He forces her to go outside, play,  herd goats and get apples in her cheeks.  Somehow, she encounters Klara, a young sick girl, who reading between the lines, is not expected to last long.  Klara can’t walk either.  Heidi enlists Grandfather to do for Klara what he has done for her.  She drinks  goat milk from the herd. And with exercise, good air and clean food, Klara is cured and can walk.  More or less.  It’s been decades.  I  shall have to gimp upstairs to my childhood shelf and have a read.

secret garden

One of my other favorite books as a child and yes, just a plain favorite is The Secret Garden.  Again, the condensed via me version:  Mary is a miserable, spoiled brat baby and sickly.  She is sent to live with her uncle in England.  Again good air, good food and a new friend lead to a change in her.  She discovers her cousin Colin hidden away – bedridden, can’t walk, not expected to live.  Good air and food plus exercise and he walks again.

My parents used to tease and call me Pollyanna  or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  No recollection  of Rebecca but a memory of the film Pollyanna with Hayley Mills.  I did want to be Hayley Mills.  My recollection is that Pollyanna is a positive child, gets ill, loses her ability to walk; in this case she doesn’t get to walk again but everyone loves her more.  No memory of Rebecca except that she was cheery.

So, where is this leading?  I have been steadily deteriorating over the last few months.  I have attributed this to bad eating and lack of activity.  The last week has been particularly brutal.  My doctors have pooh-poohed me.  It’s the nature of the disease.  It’s supposed to progress and it is.  There is no cure at this time and it is inevitable.  From day one, I have never bought into that.  I do believe that food and notjust “eat healthy” impacts walking.  Not walking and being as active as I used to be takes its toll.  It’s a vicious cycle – less activity, more fatigue, more stress, less activity….   Eating needs to be tweaked and healthy is relative.  I am still sorting it out,  But do not, do not tell a woman who has metabolized Heidi and The Secret Garden into her DNA that she will not walk again and wheelchairs and scooters are inevitable.  Obviously, you have not read what I did as a child.

Here’s to Colin, Klara and me, perpetually Pollyanna and proud of it.

Musings on the NP Visit, UTIs, Pain and the Perfect Storm

Male discretion advised – details of my visit to my ob/gyn Nurse Practitioner disclosed.  No salacious details.

I have been seeing my nurse practitioner for around 20 years.  I was brought up to believe having these exams were responsible, important and natural.  One year, when I was out of work without health insurance and no money, my parents gave me my annual exam as a birthday present.

For me, the two worst parts of the exam were being weighed and the Pap smear.  I had a botched one once and bled for days.

I have followed R from her original practice to a newer one.  In this practice, she only sees patients one Saturday a month.  She has seen my  deterioration.  I don’t focus on it and have a tendency to actually forget I am less able.

I wake up Saturday morning with burning pee.  Good thing I am going to the doctor.  I ask my husband to remind me to tell them I need a test if I rush in and need to use the bathroom.  I use the walker because it will make life easier.

I tell the nurse I think I have a UTI.  No problem, we’ll get a sample.  The exam room is so small we have issues maneuvering the walker.  She leaves me with the cup and walks out.  The bathroom is not handicap friendly.  I cannot believe this as it is an ob/gyn practice and what about the big pregnant ladies?  I then go through a series of contortions to sit, hold the cup and collect the specimen without falling, dousing myself with urine, or dropping the precious sample.  Whew.  Mission accomplished.  Next removing everything including spectral leg.  Easy-peasy.  Uh oh, I forgot getting up on the table.  Problem, the step attached to the table moves. It slides in and out.  This is not happening.  Now, another thing my mother did for me is that I don’t have nudity/body issues in medical settings.  I find the whole gown thing on the annoying side.  My husband has explained to me that I must be aware of others discomfort.  Point taken.  R comes in and I show her the situation.  She wants to call for help.  I explain if we hold the step stable and maybe give my leg a boost, it will work.  Well, we did it but now she wants to add another gown for my modesty.  The good news is that I have aged out of the Pap smear.  I can’t begin to imagine how that would have worked.  She does a dip on the specimen and says you definitely have an infection.  Do you want antibiotics now or do you want to wait 48 hours so we know exactly?  NO! DRUGS NOW!  She phones it in and high fives me as I leave as we didn’t do the weighing thing and I tell her my vastly reduced weight.  I am almost 50 pounds lighter than when we first met.  I inspired people after dropping the first twenty.  I don’t really mind that kind of inspiring as opposed to the disease inspiring.

We stop to go grocery shopping on the way home.  Pharmacy is only a mile or so from the store so we ring and it will be ready in half an hour.  Fine, go home, unpack groceries, check email.  Ok, let’s go.  I try to stand up from desk and can’t straighten up and am in such excruciating pain that I scream.  Tom comes running in.  No, I have not fallen.  It’s my back.  Get me two Advil.  I creep out to the front room.  I have a very tiny house so we are talking less than 20 feet.  I sit down.  I try to stand and scream again.  My vision is going black and I am seeing stars.  Tom’s reaction?  I had a sledge hammer fall on my hand and didn’t scream.  My reaction?  If I had the f*ng sledge hammer right now, we’d see about that.

There is no way I can drive to pick up the ‘scrip.  Tom has no license.  “how come this is happening to you? You were fine this morning.”  Actually, my left leg which is the allegedly “good” one was really wobbly.  Next, as I am thinking how I can get the meds, and not move, and not cry, he announces his cellphone is broken. I tell him to charge it. It doesn’t work.  “We’ll have to go to Apple.”  Are you f*ing insane?  I am in excruciating pain, can’t get meds and you want Apple?  I text my stepson who was supposed to be away for the weekend.  Luckily, he’s home and says no problem I’ll pick up and be there within the hour. Dad gets on the phone and tells him his phone doesn’t work.  Kid laughs and says he’ll make an appointment.

I am blessed with my stepsons.  He calls from the pharmacy to confirm my birth day.  I ask him if needs the year and the pharmacist laughs.  This is good.  The kids know that I am older than their Dad but not by how much.

I can’t take the meds till evening.

I had Vicodin once for oral surgery.  Everyone laughed as I had to use them at work, and taught a class that usually gave me a headache.  I did a great class.  There were leftovers so I saved for a rainy day.  Tom had an operation afterwards and ran out.  He was supposed to replace mine.  He didn’t.  There were no painkillers in the house.  I took an extra Baclofen.  I am resourceful.  One of the kid’s friends smokes lots of weed.  He was ecstatic some years back when he went into a cabinet for a glass and found a baggy of catnip.  “Mr. and Mrs H…””Hate   to disappoint, it’s just catnip.”  Eventually, we told him he couldn’t visit us if he was stoned,  I am thinking of Meghan Llewellyn(@BBHwithMS) and her recent journeys with cannabis.  Two thoughts, if she has been dealing with pain like this, is cannabis enough?  And, was what was happening to me associated with my condition? I’ll do anything to ease this.  However, step was supposed to go out of state with his friend, so no relief there.  The last time I touched weed was in 1994, Good Friday.  Before that, 1980!  I only used it when I was drunk.  Bad combo as I don’t come off the ceiling for days.

My mother had a high tolerance for pain – childbirth was overrated, teeth drilled without Novocain.  I so do not take after her.  The pain gets worse.  I do remember stepson gave me acupuncture cushion.  A little relief.

I take the meds and it also begins to ease a little.  However, I cannot lift my left knee or bend it.  I am scuttling around the house sideways.  I can’t step over the saddles.  Tom has to help me into our  high profile bed.   I get up in the middle of the night and have rolled over.  Crisis averted.

So, this condition has seeped into my life.  And everything is not MS.  Sometimes an infection is just an infection.  Of course, the aftermath is worse.  Losing exercise is harder to regain.

It’s amazing how much we take for granted and how much something as simple as bending a knee means.  It’s a couple of days later and I am still a tad twingey but I can move my knee; I can stand up.

What happened?  I think it was the perfect storm of adjusting to the new Frankenstein spectral leg and the UTI, all exacerbated by my condition.

Plan?  I need to have access to MMJ!

Doctor Visit, the Spectral Leg and the Motivation of Ugly

Another doctor’s visit – this one for rehabilitation.  Here’s a funny to start. Tom’s dad had to go into physical rehab a few years ago in FL and when he rang to check on him,  they connected him with drug and alcohol rehab. So, mine is for physical evaluation.  We were waffling about going as it was close to rush hour in NYC bound traffic and over 30 miles from the house.

One of the challenges confronting dealing with this condition is that the onus is on the patient to discover and coordinate care and options.

Initially, my neurologist never suggested a brace.  I kept on falling.  However, I am used to falling and as a rule do what I have been told are very graceful ones.  Sometimes, I just crumple.  I was going through a stage where I was falling a lot and heavily on my knees. Our solution:  Harbor Freight for kneepads.  Uh, ugly and unwieldly so a friend referred me to an orthopedist she had seen for carpal tunnel.  My knees hurt and I thought I had done damage.  He wrote a scrip for the first brace.  It was filled by a little old man with hair plugs.  He told me I was lucky as I would soon have them on both my arms and legs.  When I went for the fitting, I swore he used a hair dryer to mold it to my leg.  I threw it in the trunk of the car and basically didn’t use it for about a year.  It was white plastic and covered my calf.  I used to crack up my physical therapist by saying it was a great shoe horn and helped me lift my leg into and out of the car.  I mainly used it as a visual cue and for some support walking and climbing stairs in Grand Central, Time Square and Penn Station.  I didn’t wear it in the office but had nice flats and kitten heels.  The spectral leg, as I prefer to call it, could only be worn with lace up shoes.  I am known for not wearing sneakers.  I was brought up to believe that they are acceptable for the gym, only.  I was never one of those women you would see walking in Manhattan in a suit and sneakers.

When things finally deteriorated and I started wearing the spectral leg  full time, the ugly tie shoes weren’t happening.  I spoke to the neurologist who gave me a scrip for a new one.  This one was to go completely under my foot and be less obtrusive than the original.  It would let me  wear different shoes, too.  My neurologist has always understood that looking good is important in helping me feel good.

The new spectral leg did not have shoe horn capabilities.  I can’t usually put it on myself.  As is my usual habit, I really didn’t use it for months.  Big problem when I did, sometimes, after just an hour my foot started to burn.  Other times, I could go for a few hours.  The pain was incredible.  Very problematic when I had to drive as my nerves would then cause the foot to jerk.  The GP said it was in my mind and I should talk to the neurologist.  The neurologist looked  at me as if I were crazy and said why would it be neurologic.  Finally, finally an ugly blood blister showed.  I’ll spare you the disgusting pictures.

New insurance, podiatrist.  He says it’s the spectral leg.

Back to neurologist.  I show her the pix.  She recommends a physical rehab doctor.  Ha, my insurance doesn’t cover him.  We go on a quest to find someone who is on my insurance and can treat my issue.  As this is going on, my walking and mobility are deteriorating.  I am hyperextending  my leg.  When I walk, I look sort of like Quasimodo and Igor.

We find a doctor, who is covered, who works with feet, is local and has available appointments.  He was honest enough to say he can’t help me.  However, his take is that the condition causes my nerves to flare and offers me drugs! And a referral to today’s doctor.

This is the first time, since the whole thing started that someone really evaluated the way I walk and move.  How come this took nearly 10 years.  No looking back but maybe, just maybe I could be in a different place now?

I explained how I don’t wear spectral leg in house.  He admired my seasonal cane.  We discussed how my neurologist and physical therapist suggested a walker.  He concurs but calls it a rollator,  He suggests it can be available in pink with a seat.  Tom quickly vetoes him on that before I can.

Next, yes a new spectral leg, an uglier one.  It will stabilize my knee and hips.  Some of me is still strong but my abductors are very weak.  He said watching me walk with my hyper extended knee hurt him.  If I don’t take care of it, I can become arthritic and the knee much worse.  I get that.  This new spectral leg is going to have major knee support and more of a back.  He says my little booties won’t work.  I’ll need sneakers or orthopedic shoes. NOT!! NOT!!  I will not do ugly.  He did suggest a shoe store and those shoes are UGLY  and a  few hundred dollars.

He does agree physical therapy and the gym are very important and will help.  Of course, insurance won’t  cover enough sessions. And I have to wear it from when I wake up.  I almot never wear it in the house. And almost never use a cane, either.

I am beyond upset.  I haven’t exercised enough.  Vicious cycle  – I can’t go to the gym so I get weaker.

This doctor, as does my neurologist, believes I can regain and retain muscle.  So Plan B – back to gym as soon as I can with existing walker, seasonal cane and spectral leg.  DO NOT THROW OUT existing ugly shoes.  DO become fanatic about clean eating/auto-immune diet.  This is the kick in the pants I need to commit.  Ugly inspires

Crashing

Well, the doctor did tell me to use the walker, at least till I meet with the rehab specialist.  I rang this week and he doesn’t accept my insurance,  However, he will see me at a clinic.  Tom doesn’t like that but we are just going to have to suck it up and go.

I have been unable to go to the gym this week as Tom is on another binge.  Aside from  the fact that the gym and liquor store are in the same center, he’s been too drunk to really go out in public.  It is what it is.  So, as an alternate measure and part of my plan anyway, I have been doing the stair stepper as much as possible.  The  most I’ve reached is 6600 steps, not enough.

So, what I did on Thursday, was lock the room door.  It is the only room in the house with a door.  This allowed me to do some thinking, writing, reading and even watch programs that I like while I did the stepper. I did get a bit wobbly.  Tom spent most of the day passed out.  After 5, I unlocked the door.  Dunno why.  Just did.  And years ago, he did destroy the door so it’s not like it means anything except symbolically.

The last few weeks I have felt myself deteriorating.  Ever optimistic, I have tried to attribute it to the intense stress that I have been under as well as the lack of activity.  In order for me to take control, I took the walker out from behind the door yesterday.  I need to practice with it before I use it outside and frankly, I needed the extra support.  I almost  never use the spectral leg or cane in the house but I guess life is beginning to change.  I struggled not to weep.  How did this ever come to pass? How can I consider this a viable option?

It happens sometime after you become an    adult.  You walk down the street and see a reflection in a window.  Who is that adult that resembles you if you were grown up?  Wait a minute!  It’s you and you are grown up.  The next step is inevitable.  You catch sight of yourself and….  Yes, I see a little, fragile, misshapen old lady.  How the hell did that happen?

It’s after 5 and I felt a bit weakish.  I didn’t have the cane in my tiny room.  I went to sit down and somehow I didn’t sit on the chair correctly, lost my balance and fell.  I fall well but still make all kinds of noises along the way down.  Tom had been passed out in the other room.  He rushed in bloodshot eyes and all.  This man does not wake up well in the best of times.  I was flat on my back on the floor.  There’s an upside to everything.  Due to drunkenness, I had  a bag filled with bags of tea on the floor.  It was supposed to have been taken upstairs and out of the way.  I can no longer go upstairs without help so it was lying there.  Lucky!  My head hit tea instead of the floor.  So there I was.  I wasn’t hurt but couldn’t move.  This is a man with three sisters and I think he might have played with dolls or maybe not because he has no concept of how real limbs work.  I literally can’t sit up.  First order of business is to get me upright.  He pulled but I have no strength at all apparently in my core.  I slid back down.  It took awhile to explain I needed something to hold onto to keep me in a seated position.  We get there.  Next step is get me to stand or into a chair. Ha!  This is when I discovered my right leg  no longer works.  It cannot bend .   I cannot even cry.  Picture this.  Sometimes, I have problems getting out of the tub.  I lift my right leg with my arm.  If it doesn’t stay up, Tom comes in and lifts it for me.   I explained to Tom that we were going to have to do the same action but not in the tub.  He was still fuddled. Back to I do not have doll limbs.  The video would have gone viral.  Somehow, we got both legs bent.  Then  I flipped over like a bug.  Somehow, I managed to pull myself up onto the chair.  Tom stumbled back to bed.

This was a pretty devastating evening.  I knew I had deteriorated but not to this point.  I guess I need to buy one of those I’ve fallen and can’t get up devices.  I am so scared and frightened.  I WILL NOT BE IMMOBILE.  I WILL DANCE AGAIN.   I must be delusional.  The only thing to do is fight harder  Someone just told me today, in another matter, that my persistence paid off.  I guess I need to keep it up.  I am losing strength all around and crashing

Lucky 13

 

Yesterday was my 13th wedding anniversary.  I was in the hospital with Tom from 7:30 a.m. till 8:30 at night.  Our original plan had been to drive out East and either have a nice lunch out there or cash in on a restaurant card the kids gave us for Christmas.  Instead, Tom’s been in the hospital since Monday afternoon.

We had no idea thirteen years ago that this is where we’d be. We said our vows in front of a justice of the peace who knew me from volunteer work.  She gave me a lecture on how she disagreed with the public policy  position of the organization.  Then we did our vows.  It included something along the lines of in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, better or worse.  Of course, we said Yes.  Who really understands what that means? Well, we were older so we were not dewy eyed innocents.  We knew that life would hold challenges.

13 years is a not a long time in the scheme of things but we have really beaten up those vows; each and every one of them.

Life with both of us has been challenging.  He has supported me through the death of both of my parents; the dissolution of my childhood home; the loss of three jobs and of course, my continuing physical deterioration.

On his side, his rampant and destructive alcoholism; cancer; hernia and now this cardiac situation.

Monday, we went to the ER for what we thought would be a meds adjustment and maybe Valium.  Instead, a four day hospital stay with two procedures.  Yesterday morning he had a tee.  A scope was put down his throat to see if there were any clots in his lungs that could dislodge.  He came out of that one convinced he was vacuuming the car. Indeed, when he was released today, one of the first things he has done is vacuum!  Lucky me, I have a house husband. In the afternoon, he had a cardiac ablation. Fun for anniversary.

Truth be told, I don’t hold much with anniversaries.  He is the sentimental one.

I never wanted to have my parents’ lives.  Joke’s on me.  I do.  I was so frightened this week.  Normally, I am your best person in an emergency and I still was calm and collected for everyone.  Here’s the thing – when my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, my mother kept on saying “Daddy had a really good omelet for breakfast.”  Well, you know how they say things about your parents’ deaths stick with you?  Sunday night, we had had the best dinner with Justin and Lisa – good food, laughter, conversations.  My mind kept on howling – just like Daddy.

Another way in which I am the same is hiding things.  I am a firm believer in transparency as my parents withheld information on my grandmother’s health.  I never trusted them again.  I share medical details about me and T to his kids.  We found out after my father died how the two of them conspired to shield us about my mother’s condition.  She had dementia.  I found we have done the same with my walking.  It’s not as if they don’t know I have difficulties but in the house I usually don’t wear the spectral leg or use a cane.  On the few occasions we have been out, they know I walk arm in arm with their Dad.  They had no idea how much difficulties I have getting in and  out of the house.  Of course, when I am stressed I am worse.  I have started to have problems with my hands.  I needed help buckling my seatbelt.  Everyone was great to me but I realized how much we have been dissembling.

As you know I was seriously contemplating divorce earlier this year.  Financial considerations stopped me. He thought I couldn’t do it because I literally couldn’t live without  him.  He ties my shoes, fixes my hair, helps with zippers and buttons.  As they say, “needs must”.  I put on my own shoes, dressed and undressed myself and did my hair.  Fed the cats, cleaned their litter. I can do it.  I did not fall.  Stumbled a few times but no falls.  So what if it took me ten minutes to put on my macrame sandals and spectral leg and it involved bent paper clips and pliers!  Don’t ask.

I know I am a control freak.  I acknowledge that one of  the reasons I married him was when he was in trouble I wanted legal standing.  I was never one of those girls with wedding plans. I used to dream of a house and children but no man.  I used to be told it couldn’t be done.  I am a boomer which explains the attitude.

This week made me realize that even though I can be on my own, I don’t want to be right now.  Pondering how we really did do our vows.  There’s work ahead.  There is a lot of pain and anger on each side.

 

Firsts and Hopefully Lasts

I participate in research studies.   It’s a way of making some good come out of something less than positive.   And it’s also the way I can get MRI’s.  When I originally had insurance and this started. My first MRIs cost me thousands.  Then I had Affordable care and it was reasonable.  I am back to corporate insurance and a too high copay.

This study also focuses on the neurologic.  Usually, I do those, the blood and the physical first and the 90 minutes or so of MRIs last.  This time it was reversed.  We needed to be at MRIs first at  9a.m.

I am spoiled.  Since I have started working on LI, waking at 4:15 a.m. no longer appeals to me.

I was better able to get to the bus uptown this time.  However, I realize that I am no longer able to work in NYC.  This is extremely disheartening.   We took a slightly later train and ran a little late.  It’s two blocks from the main office to the MRI.  Unless you have issues walking, you don’t realize that the sidewalk is slightly slanted and is not completely flush.  Also, my legs don’t work when I am upset.

I said to Tom “I think I am going to need a wheelchair to make it to the MRI.”  Now, they always offer and I always refuse.  Once,  years ago, I told him I needed a chair and  he told me if he had to carry me, it wasn’t happening.   He said,  I was going to tell you that we need one but thought you would be mad.” Oh well.  When we arrived, the research assistant said, “let’s get you a wheelchair.”  I nearly burst into tears. Ironically, there’s an underground passage.  I could have walked it but we definitely would have been late.  And it’s longer.

Now here’s the funny thing, I fall asleep during MRIs.  Yup.  No problems.  See, no one can get me there.  No one can call me or email me.  They tuck me in with a nice blanket.  Could a girl want more?  I was signed up for a special one. This time, they made me wear two gowns.  LUCKY!  So, now is the fun part.  I don’t have spectral leg, cane or glasses.  They have to carry me onto the machine. I get my nap.  They pull me out.  I am used to this drill.  They usually reposition  me and roll me back in.  Not this time.  We do the carry thing into another room and machine.  Ah, that explains the double gown!  I settle in to a new machine.  They pull me out again.  The machine is broken!

Back to the wheelchair.  And onto the neurological tests.  Well, first I do the physical .  My now usual stumble. The thing with the neurological tests is they are usually the same.  They read a list of objects and I tell them the list back.  I am really good at this. I remember from year to year. LOL.  This year they changed the list.  Hey, I aced it, no mistakes.  There are other tests which I also remember.  One I particularly dislike  is 6 shapes that you need to sort into 2 groups of 3.  I miss some usually.  This time I did more combinations than ever.  My mind is not declining.  Researcher said she won’t tell me what I missed ’cause I’ll remember next year.

Being in a wheelchair was  weird. I felt diminished. I was lower than everyone.  People moved out of our way. Moving without doing anything was unsettling.  On one hand, it was stress-free; on the other it was awful to think that I had come to that.

This cannot continue.  I cannot give up.  I don’t know what to do.

Old Girlfriends, Postal and Rituxan

What a difference a day makes!  An update on the postal situation from yesterday.  I placed calls to his landlord, psychologist and the VA.  The VA was helpful.  No calls from the others by 4 p.m. so I call K back.  He’s very cryptic and said the situation has been settled for $400.  He doesn’t sound right.  “Are you on drugs?”  “Of course.”  I finally am able to get his cousin’s name and phone number out of him.  Bombshell.  K has checked himself out of facility and told them and cousin that he is coming to live with me.  This is not possible on so many levels.  He appears to grasp this and states his intent is to check into one of the cheap, tawdry motels on Montauk or Sunrise.  In fact, there is one within walking distance of my house that I call the Pedophile Motel as a year or so before we moved in there were legal issues as it appeared the town and county were housing all the pedophiles there. Alright, I tell him we’ll deal and get him situated.  I tell him that I have called the landlord and will call him again.  My husband is livid over the situation and thinks the landlord has K’s belongings.  He wants to drive over, get everything before it’s tossed then drop the dime on the illegal rental.  K says don’t call him again.  He’s spoken to him today and landlord was very cold. He also tells me to say nothing of his plan to his cousin. Now whilst I am having this conversation with K on my landline, I hear other calls coming in and my cell is ringing too.  I see one call on the cell is my neurologist so husband picks that one up.

I hang up and see the landlord has called me.  I ring back.  Wow.  K has played us all.  I worked for years on a phone so I am really good with voices and lies.  Landlord is a straight up guy.  After I saw K just before Labor Day weekend, he rapidly deteriorated and was falling several times a day.  It culminated, ironically, enough on September 11, when landlord S’s children heard yelling. K had fallen facedown for 10 hours.  K was refusing help.  S told him paramedics or police.  He was hospitalized for 5 or 6 days.  During his episode, he had crystallization of his blood.  K was released to an assisted living/rehab facility.  Ironically, my husband and I drive by there all the time.  He was there until the end of September when the insurance ran out.  The cousin P was called.  The facility told him that K could walk 160 feet with a walker.  However, he had degenerated so much during this period that he was not allowed to use the bathroom on his own.  S had looked into the apartment with a view to making it handicapped accessible.  K had lived there almost 11 years.  Apparently, he has not had control of his urine or bowel for sometime.  The apartment/room needed fumigation and a new floor.  S also determined that he could not assume the responsibility nor have his children exposed to the consequences of falling,  S drove him to the cousin P in Maryland.  He had to help him in the bathroom on the way down.

The first night at the cousin’s he fell repeatedly.  The cousin called an ambulance.

I have a call into the cousin.  The cousin takes care of his nephew who as far as I can ascertain on the phone has at minimum a significant speech impediment.  I call twice leaving messages.

In the meantime, the psychologist has left a message for me on my cell.  All three of these men know of me as an old girlfriend, not my name,  just an old girlfriend.  The psychologist, B, and I have quite the conversation.  He has treated K for years.  In fact, he has retired and is very old.  He sounds ancient on the phone.

B never knew that I knew K at the time of the original postal  incident.  I had to go into therapy because of it.  I couldn’t handle it and left K for someone else.  K stalked me and threatened me when he found out.  I know, atrocious taste in men.  At that time in the late 80’s, there wasn’t the awareness or sensitivity to domestic violence there is now.  The police told me there was nothing they could do until he actually hurt me.  Their suggestion was for me to move.  In Suffolk county at that time there was a rash of domestic killings in a few months. I know because my girl friends, their mothers and my parents all cut out the clippings for me.  And yes, I went back into therapy once his meds were stabilized and I started interacting and seeing him again.

I give B the cousin, the landlord and the facility numbers as I explain he will have more weight than I do.

 

P calls back.  “Thank G-d you called.  I have been trying to get K to give me your name, number and address!”  He told K that he wanted to talk to me before he dropped him here  today. K has even told him I have been married twice.  P questions whether my husband will accept him.  K refuses to give up my address but instead tells P how to get my house from his room.

We have a most illuminating conversation.  P also knew of me as the old girlfriend, no name.  But he knew of my diagnosis, my two marriages and that I went to Hopkins.  Unless people tick me off, I don’t usually tell them I went to Hopkins but say I went to college in Baltimore.  I did the same yesterday and all three men said “Yeah, I knew you went to Hopkins.”  P found out from me the truth of the postal incident.  No, he didn’t hit 3 -4 guys.  They did try to provoke him to do so but instead his blood pressure rose so high he nearly stroked out and was taken out by ambulance.  I thought K’s father and mother were both evil and I do not use that term lightly.  K is older than me and his teachers reported the father for child abuse.  In that era you could just about kill your kids.  There were 6 brothers.  At least two are dead and one has been institutionalized for years.  Despite this K kept in touch with his father who ended up living in an SRO.  When he died, his mother refused to have anything to do with the burial.  Only one brother came.  That’s one of my gripes against the mother.  She was a lay minister in the Catholic church and would not separate or divorce the father.  She sacrificed her sons.  I do not believe in that kind of G-d.  P told me as soon as they were old enough each son beat the father up.  K broke his jaw.  He also shared my opinion of the mother and told me more stories about her.

All three men and I shared stories of K’s increasing paranoia and remoteness. I bought a computer for K once when I had a huge bonus.  Good fortune is meant to be shared.  A few years later he returned it to me saying it was broken,  Maybe,  but apparently was truly paranoid about it.  He wouldn’t use one at the library either.  He only recently had a cellphone and I believe it was through a program.  Caller ID displayed LI Spinal Foundation.

P can’t fight him any more and told K he will take him anywhere he wants to go.  He will leave him at a motel, wait an hour and call 911.  I beg him to let me know and I will call if necessary.

Oh, and the call my husband answered on my cell?  It’s my doctor’s office asking me to come in today.  I have been approved for the Rituxan.  I don’t even register this or remember it till after 8 p.m.  This is huge.  This drug could literally change my life. I can’t even process this.  I keep on forgetting!

 

My husband wakes in a rage this morning.  How could anyone dump K?  I repeat our 911 plan.  Smack forehead.  Of course, the police will come before ambulance.  We anticipate his resistance and see jail in his future or else due to late father’s influence (top police lieutenant) K being able to stay in motel to die.  He was able to get out of a traffic incident this summer dropping names.

I call the VA again this morning.  They suggest the cousin drive him directly there.  He is technically homeless and they have a shelter on the property.

The Catholic hospital nearest me said if there were mental health issues, they couldn’t take him.

I call the psychologist.  He has had no luck with the cousin.  He said P was adamant K was going to New York.  He and his wife also had the same serious reservations about the 911 plan.  B then revealed that K was so paranoid that for five years he would only meet B at diners or restaurants away from where they both lived.  His opinion was that K cannot survive in a group situation. Also, none of us must have any guilt   as we all have done much more than could be expected.  We are all good people.

At ten of two this afternoon, the phone rang.  It was P.  He went to get K at 8 and asked where are we going?  K said I’ll let you know in 4 hours.  P refused.  They went to 7 -11 for an hour and a half.  For now sanity has prevailed and K has agreed to stay and sign on a contract to live there. He says he doesn’t want to die in Maryland.  The cousin says who wants to die?

We all agree that this is very sad.  It is.  I agree we all tried to do the best we could. But I am looking at it another way.  We have all known K for decades.  We knew of each other – the old girlfriend, the cousin, the shrink, the landlord.  He reduced us  all to the role he wanted us to have in his life. We all do that.  K is just more extreme about it due to his emotional issues.

Ok, not guilt but I am so questioning myself.  How did I let myself so eagerly be a part of this.  K and I never officially lived together.  I have been married twice, lived with someone and had numerous affairs.  Through all this we have been constants in each other’s lives.  We have been “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.”  I need to process what it means.  I sense that somewhere along the way, we all failed him.  And I, I failed myself.  Why can’t I let go?  Why have I maintained a relationship with a man capable of hurting me physically? All relationships involve hurt.

If this crisis had not occurred, we all would still be in our roles.  How do we as a society perpetuate these situations?  We are all so close and yet so distant.