Richie’s television went on Thursday afternoon and stayed on through Friday morning. Understanding fellow that I am, I did not say anything. Richie was leaving Friday morning for a three-week visit with his son. One night of TV-induced fitful sleep interspersed with periods of no sleep at all was bearable, knowing it would be followed by nearly a month of blissful silence. Unfortunately, blissful silence did not follow.
Friday night the television droned on and on and was louder than the night before. William was the culprit. He often watches Buddy, Richie’s bulldog, when Richie is away. Ten minutes after midnight, I called the desk to lodge a complaint. Moments later, there was a knock on Richie’s door, and a voice said, “Please turn your TV down. We’ve had a complaint.” If there was a reply, I didn’t hear it, and if the volume was lowered, it wasn’t lowered much. OK, around two o’clock the decibel level did go down, although it remained high enough to be heard in my room. But I was able to sleep for a couple hours, and when I woke up at five-thirty the TV was still on.
I saw William Saturday and asked him to turn the television off or way down by ten, or before he passed out, whichever came first. William huffed and puffed in the manner of a spoiled eight-year-old. “I’m not staying in Richie’s room. I leave the TV on for the dog.” “Leave it on all day. I don’t care, but turn it off at night,” I told him. He huffed and puffed a little more and left. He returned quickly to tell me he’d turned off the TV and it would stay off. At least so far, William has been true to his word.
Sleeping has been a challenge in recent months even without a noisy television next door. It used to be, I was in bed by eight-thirty and up and at ’em, sort of, at four or four-thirty. These days, I’m going to bed later and getting up earlier.
Falling asleep is never a problem. Staying asleep for seven or eight hours is. I crawl into bed at ten, fall asleep, wake up feeling good, squint to see what time it is and discover midnight is still half an hour away. I lie there and try to drift off again, usually without success. There are many mornings when I get out of bed at two-thirty or three. I don’t accomplish much in the wee hours, and I’m too tired to do much in the unwee hours.
I woke up at one-thirty this morning and gave up trying to get back to sleep just after four. I should have given up sooner. In the quiet of the night, I was alone with my thoughts, which were not pleasant company.
There are nights when I lie awake and fill my head with thoughts of movies with plucky, indefatigable heroes. You know, the guy who has a disease or injury that severely limits what he can do. But he keeps on keeping on, smiling in the face of adversity, refusing to give in to his misfortune, finding fulfillment while inspiring others with his limitless determination. Just thinking of those movies often inspires me. However, there are times, and those times are becoming more frequent, when just thinking of feel-good flicks of that ilk inspires me to yell “horse shit!” Last night was one of those times.
What was my problem last night? I got a new brace for my left foot last week. My left ankle is weak. When I stand or try to take a step or two, it gives way and I end up standing on my right foot and the outside edge of my left foot. The brace is to help keep my left foot flat on the ground. I was hoping it would make it possible to take more than three or four steps. While it hasn’t done that, at least yet, it has made some things better. When the shoe with the brace comes off, the ankle does a better job of keeping the foot in place for a few minutes, making it easier to get in and out of the shower.
The problem is, the brace consists of two metal bars that are attached to the heel and extend to just below my knee, and several straps to keep the brace in place once I get the shoe on. Getting the shoe on, aye, there is the rub. My left leg is an uncooperative lout, and the foot is no better. It is no easy task guiding my toes and foot around the hardware and into the shoe without knocking it over or shoving the tongue in ahead of my pedal extremity. Saturday morning it took fifteen minutes to get the damn thing on.
What’s worse, the new challenges aren’t the only challenges. So many tasks I once did without thinking now require both thought and patience. I was never much good at thought. I do a lot of it, however, in the middle of the night. All too often I think about my waning abilities. What will life be like, I wonder, when I need someone to do all those things I used to do and never even thought about them as I did them. That day is coming. I don't know when, but even if that day is ten years away, it will be too soon for me. And at night I worry about it.
On the bright side: for the last two weeks my bowels have been operating in a more regular fashion than they have in six or seven years. Maybe, better days are coming. Or maybe it’s all a bunch of crap.
Memories were failing even as we ate this evening. In the ten minutes between giving her order to Amy and Amy setting her dinner in front of her, Marianne asked, “Did she take my order yet?” at least five times. When the table next to us was served, Leila looked at her plate and then at Burt’s. “You’ve got chicken, and I’ve got beef,” she said. “Did I order beef? I guess I must have.”