Al, concerned about the state of his bowels, saw his doctor Tuesday, and the doctor said, "I'll call in a prescription." Wednesday morning, Daniel, who works for Hospice Advantage, stopped at CVS to pick up the prescription that consisted of a couple inches of white powder at the bottom of a one-gallon plastic jug. Daniel read the instructions, filled the jug with water, shook well, and told Al he was to drink one eight-ounce glass of the stuff every ten minutes until he had a clear bowel movement.
Al stayed in his apartment on Thursday but was out and about Friday. He came down the stairs as I was on my way to check the mail. It was quarter-past eleven, and the hallway was filled with people heading to lunch. Along the way, several folks asked Al how he was doing. The squeamish, no doubt, regretted it.
"The doctor gave me a prescription," he'd say. "I had to drink a glass full every few minutes. After three or four glasses, I had a movement. It was black, the blackest movement I've ever had. Then I drank another glass or two and had another movement. It was black, too.
"So I had to keep drinking that shit. Eventually, I had a couple movements that were black and brown. Then I had a couple brown movements. Then I was shitting water with just a few brown flakes in it. You'd think I'd be all cleaned out by now, but I still have pressure here [rubbing his gut]. I tried to have a movement this morning, but all I did was pass some gas. Those doctors don't know shit."
By the time Al had gotten his mail and was about to climb the stairs up to the second floor - he doesn't use the elevator unless he is toting a bulky package of some sort - he'd told the story of his movements ten times or more.
I went to check on Al Saturday morning. "About five o'clock this morning, I finally had a good movement. I'd sit on the toilet every couple hours trying to shit. Then it happened. It was brown, about eight or ten inches long and round, about this big," he said, making a circle with his thumb and index finger. "It looked like shit is supposed to look."
With that out of the way, Al turned his attention to getting a fair settlement from an apartment-rental group he has been associated with for many years. It is a long, convoluted tale. From what I gather, Al wants his money before he dies or becomes too addled to know what he is doing. The folks in Savannah offered him $25,000, Al figures his share is closer to $100,000, but he says he'd be happy with $60,000.
Friday night, while waiting for his bowels to work, Al went through some of his records and Saturday he asked me to make some copies of them. "I'm sending this stuff to my lawyer," he said. "This proves that bastard in Savannah is trying to cheat me."
I'm not sure the stuff proves that, but anything that get Al's mind out of his bowels is a good thing.
Janet moved into one of the Covenant Woods' duplexes in early December. She is a little pudgy and looks to be in her early seventies. She is obviously English. When she speaks, it's easy to imagine being in a pub and Janet taking your order for a pint of bitters and a steak-and-kidney pie.
Despite the bright sunshine Thursday morning, the temperature lingered around sixteen or seventeen degrees as I made my morning rounds.
"You're an awfully brave man riding around in this cold," Janet said as I wheelchaired by her driveway.
"No braver than you," I told her.
"I'm not brave. I'm dumb," she said, holding up her cigarette. "If I didn't smoke, I wouldn't be out here."
"I love my little dog," Burt says every time the conversation turns to pets. "I don't know what I'd do without Georgette."
Saturday morning, Georgette, a small, poodle-like dog, wasn't around when Burt got up. He enlisted the help of three or four others, and they scoured Covenant Woods inside and out for an hour. Then Burt remembered, "My daughter-in-law came by last night to get Georgette so she can take her to the groomer today. If I wasn't crazy I would have remembered that." An hour or two later, Georgette was back, shaven, shorn, and cuter than ever.
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