Saturday, January 26, 2013

Two Limericks

  A woman who’d hated to clean
   Since way back when she was a teen,
   Opened up Pine Sol
   Let it sit, that’s all.
   ’Til the house smelled ever so clean.
   A fellow who’d planned to come clean
   Realized his idea was not keen.
   He admitted a bit,
   Then lickety-split,
   He wrapped himself in saintly sheen.

Notes from the Home - January 26, 2013

   A quick reading of the April 27, 2012 “Notes from the Home” reveals, my wheelchair odometer had reached 800 miles a day or two earlier. An unremarkable feat if ever there was one. The wheelchair was three-years old, and averaging 267 miles a year going hither and thither hardly seems worth noting. But it seemed worth recollecting when I got back from my morning jaunt and saw that the odometer was showing 1,775 miles.

   I didn’t make a note of the mileage when I arrived at Covenant Woods on March 26. I’m sure, however, I put more than twenty-five miles on the buggy during my first month here. So, rather than waiting for the odometer to get to 1,800 miles, I now declare that I have put 1,000 miles on the wheelchair since arriving at Covenant Woods.

   The sad thing is, almost all of them have been accumulated by going round and round the Covenant Woods’ parking lot. So, if you will excuse me, I’ll go off and whine about the lack of sidewalks, which limits my ability to wander about. Better yet, I’ll go off and give thanks for my insurance, which allowed me to get the chair, which allows me to wander, even if I cannot go far.


   With Russ’ help, I made the trek to Atlanta and the Emory Clinic Wednesday. It made me homesick for the Cleveland Clinic. I got the feeling at Emory that I was being put on a conveyor belt. Everyone did his or her job. The nurse took my blood pressure, temperature and pulse. The doctor filled me full of baclofen. But the doctor didn’t ask many questions, and he didn’t ask me to move my legs, nor did he bend them to see how stiff they were. He wasn’t an unsociable type, though.

   “Where are you from?” the doc asked.

   “Well, I grew up in the Pittsburgh suburbs and spent most of my adult life in Ashtabula, Ohio.”

   “Where’s that?”

   “On Lake Erie, about fifty miles east of Cleveland.”

   “Did you switch your allegiance to the Cleveland teams?” he wondered.


   “Well, that’s pretty clear,” he said.

   He also said my battery is wearing down. The battery in the pump, that is. It’s expected to poop out in about a year. When I go back in July for another refill, I’ll have to make an appointment for a battery replacement, probably in November. It’s an out-patient procedure. The incision will be closed up with super glue, and I won’t have to go back to have the stitches removed.

   As we were getting ready to leave the hospital, I visited the restroom. The stalls for the handicapped in the Cleveland Clinic restrooms are roomy enough to be roomy even with a wheelchair parked in them. The stall for the handicapped in the restroom nearest the neurology waiting room at the Emory Clinic is not. There are, no doubt, better facilities somewhere in the neurology department, but all the signs pointed to the one I used. Given the cost of medical care, you’d think the providers could splurge a little and enlarge the handicapped stalls. Or am I starting to sound like one of Mitt’s forty-seven percenters?


   The Columbus State University nursing department was looking for six Covenant Woods’ residents willing to be interviewed by nursing students. I volunteered. Arissa, my interrogator, was here yesterday for the first of a series of five interviews she will do with me. The purpose of the interviews is to give the students an opportunity to hone their communication skills and their ability to elicit information from patients.

   The interviews are videotaped for a couple reasons. The obvious reason: so the faculty can assess each student’s performance. The other reason, Arissa said, is to see how well CSU’s recently purchased whiz-bang video equipment works. Her biggest concern is keeping the equipment in working order. Arissa is a senior and will graduate in the spring unless something happens to the video equipment, and she has to hand over a check for a couple thousand bucks to replace it before CSU will hand over her diploma.

   She assured me the videos would not be uploaded to the Internet. I feigned relief. In the course of five interviews, I’m bound to make a fool of myself countless times. With all that evidence of my idiocy floating in cyberspace, someone might find it, capture a moment or two and put it out there for all to see. With any luck, it would go viral and I’d get my fifteen minutes of fame. But my fate, it seems, is to go through life anonymously incompetent. It ain’t fair, I tell you.

   The interview went well. It was a get-to-know-you session. How do I spend my time at Covenant Woods? Where was home? How come I moved to Columbus? When was I diagnosed with MS? Lots of questions to which I knew the answers.

   We had different perspectives on the weather, however. I thought the sunny afternoon with the temperature in the fifties was just about perfect for January. Arissa thought it was cold. Cold? Perhaps a little chilly when the wind was blowing, but – by Ashtabula standards, anyway – certainly not cold. By Hawaiian standards, though, it was cold. And Arissa had spent a couple years in Hawaii when her dad was stationed there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Notes from the Home - January 16, 2013

   It might be a little early in 2013 to declare that my year has been made. But it has. A week ago, Debbie, who was babysitting, called.

   “I’ve got a little boy here. Would you like to see him?” she asked.

   Well, duh. And a few minutes later, thanks to the miracle of Skype, I was watching Hayden sitting in his highchair playing with some durable Christmas decorations that had yet to be put away and occasionally picking at his breakfast.

   “Say, ‘Hi, Grandpa,’” Debbie said.

   “Hi, Grandpa,” Hayden said.

   Grandpa turned to mush and has been floating among the clouds ever since.


   In the lobby a day or two ago, Mary, a nurse’s aide, looked at me and laughed.

   “What?” I said.

   “You better watch out,” she said.


   “Miss Evelyn is after you,” Mary said. “I heard her say, ‘Oh, I love that man. He’s got the nicest smile.’”

   “I should have moved down here years ago and become a politician,” I said. “People are always telling me I have a wonderful smile.”

   “You do have a beautiful smile,” Mary said.

   “No one up north ever told me that.”

   “This is the South,” she said. “We talk like that to everybody. We’re like kids at a parade. Someone goes by, and we stand there waving and yelling at them.”


   Once or twice a week, when she sees me in the hall, Louise will stop and tell me how much she likes my smile and what an inspiration I am to her. Why I should be an inspiration to anyone is beyond me.

   “You just keep going, and you don’t let it get you down,” she says.

   I don’t know about that. But Louise gets out and about as much or more than I do, and she has to work harder to do it. She uses a walker, and, my guess is, she’s at least twenty years older than I. It’s much easier to smile when you’re cruising around in a power chair than it is when you’re pushing a walker up and down the long hallways. She’s my inspiration.

   I received another dose of inspiration Monday evening while I was delivering Table Talk. I was on the third floor and saw Ruth, who also uses a walker, coming my way. We said hello as we passed. She lives on the first floor, and I figured she was visiting someone. But a few minutes later, she passed me from behind, went to the end of the hall, turned around and headed back my way. She was getting her exercise. Ruth said the third-floor hallway isn’t a busy place, and once she gets rolling, she can keep rolling. You could see the determination in her eyes, and it was inspiring.


   But those of us in powered vehicles do get around. Sunday afternoon, I went over to McDonald’s for a chicken sandwich and a milkshake. On my way back, I saw Eleanor and Richard making their way through the parking lot in their golf cart. After we talked for a few minutes, they went on to McDonald’s, and I set course for Covenant Woods. Before I got there, however, I met up with Eddie, who was on her way back from Publix in her power chair.

   It wasn’t long before I embarrassed myself. The asphalt lip that allows the wheelchair to go over the curb from the service road and on to the path to the Covenant Woods’ parking lot is steep one. But Eddie, who is several years older and more than several pounds heavier than I, easily negotiated it. The pressure to equal her performance was on, but my foot braces weren’t. The braces are to prevent toe drop. Well, the toes on my left foot dropped between the wheelchair footplate and the asphalt lip. Ouch! But the only lasting damage was to my ego. Eddie’s ascent had been so absolutely flawless; mine was exceedingly faulty.


   Nursing students from Columbus State will be interviewing some of the residents of Covenant Woods. I am to be one of the interviewees. The purpose of the interviews is to give the prospective nurses an opportunity to hone their interviewing and data collecting skills. Corrine said she participated in the interviewing a few months ago, and the process was short and sweet.

   No matter how long the interview is, it will seem shorter than the Town Hall meeting I sat through yesterday. The Town Hall meeting is a monthly affair which I had so far niftily avoided. Every time I thought I should attend, I was dissuaded by a dream. Well, more of a nightmare. I saw Roger, the general manager, droning on about a slew of soon-to-be-implemented improvements. And the residents asking endless questions about previously promised soon-to-be-implemented improvements that never were. The dream was eerily accurate.

   Alas, Penelope had been trying to scrounge up potential interviewees and asked if I would participate. “Sure,” I said. Only then did she mention that a CSU nursing instructor would be at the Town Hall meeting to meet the interviewees and have them to sign consent forms. So, against my better judgment, I went to the meeting. It’s not that I had to give up something exciting in order to attend, but I could have found ways to be more pleasantly bored.


   From time to time during my days as an ink-stained wretch, Star Beacon sports editor Don McCormack would signify his approval of a piece I or one of my colleagues had written by saying, “Hey, this doesn’t suck.” Editors must like that phrase. In the Reader’s Digest Humor Collection, available at a newsstand near you, Andy Simmons, the magazine’s humor editor, writes, “. . . I poured over every joke and funny anecdote we’ve published, and thought to myself, Hey, some of these don’t suck! So I grabbed the ones that didn’t suck . . .”

   Among the things Mr. Simmons grabbed was one of Russ’ cartoons. The curious reader in search of amusement will find it on page 74. As his father, it comes as a great relief to know that Russ’ work doesn’t suck. In editor-speak, that’s high praise, indeed.

   I do, however, do have one itty-bitty nit to pick. Mr. Simmons says, “. . . and thought to myself . . .” Whom, besides himself, does he normally think to?


   For a week or more, it’s been June in January here in Columbus. It’s been a dreary, rainy day, but according to the Weather Channel, it was 68 at two this afternoon. That will not be the case tomorrow, when we are told to expect, “Morning rain, then windy with a mix of rain and snow showers.” But Friday, the prediction is for sunny skies and a high of 57.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Bernard and Natalie

 Bernard was dressed quite nattily,
   Hoping to attract Natilie,
   The famed stamp collector.
   And he tried to get her
   To “come to my place, Natalie,
   So we can discuss philately.”
   She said, “If we can affably,
   Oh, yes, I think I might.”
   He said, “Why not tonight?
   And don’t forget: dress scantily.”

The Resident Journal

This is the current issue of The Resident Journal, minus the pictures. Chuck Baston, a Covenant Woods' resident, came up with the idea...