On a pleasant Tuesday morning two weeks ago, Russ and I made our way to the Columbus Clinic for a visit with Dr. Verson. He had news for me – the results of the tests and procedures he had ordered during my previous visit. As a result of those results I am now busy going to various medical facilities in the greater Columbus area for further testing and proceduring.
The gluten tolerance test revealed a high glucose level. To help keep it from getting too high, I have an appointment to see a nutritionist. I suppose Laura McLaurin, nurse practitioner, will give me two lists – one of the foods I should be eating; the other a list of foods I should be shunning. It’s probably too much to ask that the first list be made up solely of foods I like, and that the latter consist entirely of things I dislike.
My tastes have broadened, however, since I came south, and I have developed at least some tolerance for certain allegedly healthy foods. Several foods that Granny whipped up for Jed and all his kin, and which I was determined never to eat, are frequently on the Covenant Woods’ menu. It’s hardly exciting fare, and I never go to the dining room hoping collard greens are on the menu. But when they are I eat them.
After going through the results of the MRI of my brain, Dr. Verson concluded that there isn’t much there. Not much in the way of lesions, that is. Not enough to account for the amount of physical impairment I have. With that in mind, he ordered an MRI of my neck, which was scheduled for later that same day.
A few hours later, Russ and I headed to the St. Francis Hospital radiology department, wondering as we went if arrangements had been made with Medtronics to have someone on hand to make sure my baclofen pump was pumping before I left. Once at the hospital, the first order of business was to spend an hour enduring waiting room torture. I don’t understand why television replaced elevator music in waiting rooms. The piped-in music was soothing, relaxing. The TV, especially when tuned to FOX News, or any news station for that matter, and the volume set with the hearing impaired in mind, is anything but.
It was a relief when the nurse came by and asked me to follow her. She pricked my finger and collected the blood on a small card. The purpose, if I heard her correctly, was to see if my kidneys were working. They were. Then she reviewed the five pages of forms the receptionist had given me to fill out.
“You have a baclofen pump?” she asked.
“Did they arrange for someone from Medtronics to be here?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll have to check.” She did and was told that no arrangements had been made. “We’ll have to reschedule this,” she said.
I went back Friday. This time the waiting room TV was tuned to a syndicated talk show, a Jerry Springer knockoff. The host, a woman, fed questions to an opinionated guest, who screamed and snarled an answer, which included several references to the ragweed-range IQ of the other guest, who was then given the opportunity to prove he could be as loud, boarish and boring as the first guest. He didn’t disappoint. Meanwhile, the members of the studio audience cheered, snorted, shouted, booed, stomped their feet and made threatening gestures. There was no indication, however, that they listened to anything that was said.
Ten minutes into this ordeal, a woman in hospital togs and carrying a sheaf of papers approached. “Mr. Harris?” she said. “Ah,” I thought, “this angel of mercy has come to get me out of the waiting room and away from the TV.” Ha! Betsy – I never did like that name – had come to tell me the Medtronics person was running late. “I’ll come get you when she gets here,” Betsy told a very chagrined Tom. Twenty minutes later – it seemed like an eternity – Betsy returned and led Russ, who was pushing me, away from the TV and through a maze of hallways to the MRI. Betsy took my shoes off, and she and Russ hoisted me onto the table. Betsy got me properly arranged and slid me into the sleek looking machine. Forty-five minutes later, she slid me out, my ears ringing from the stamping-plant-like noises the MRI made. In two weeks I’ll find out what the procedure revealed.
Anna Lee, a care giver who works with Homer, was getting out of her car as I was going by one day last week. We talked about this and that for a few minutes, and then Anna Lee asked what I thought of Covenant Woods. It’s not a bad place, I said,. I’d change a few things if I were in charge, but that would be the case anywhere. My problem is that I don’t want to be here. Because of my physical condition, I need to be somewhere where help and support are available. But my mind is the mind of a healthy sixty-six-year-old man, and it chafes under the limitations it must now contend with. The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak, so to speak.
“Tom, you have MS,” Anna Lee said. “But MS doesn’t have you. You’re always smiling, and you have a wonderful smile.” She went on, saying the nicest things; things even my egotistical self had trouble believing. She went so far as to say I was an inspiration. But I was the one in need of inspiration.
That afternoon, Ruth provided it. She is a tiny woman who lived down the hall from me until the middle of July, when she moved to the Personal Care area after taking a fall and having a small stroke.
Ruth was pushing her walker down the long hallway, as I was going to check my mail. She had come a fer piece, still had a way to go, and she would have to make her way back and go uphill in the long hall she was now descending.
She is one determined lady and a true inspiration.