Saturday, January 26, 2013

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.

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