Saturday, January 17, 2015

Notes from the Home - January 17, 2015

     Russ had a busy week, running me to and from the Columbus Clinic. Tuesday morning, he took me to see the phlebotomy folks, who needled me in preparation for next week's physical with Dr. Miller, a primary care doc. The phlebotomist was intimate with my right arm for two or three minutes. The wait for those few magical moments was nearly an hour. It must have been National Have a Phlebotomist Stick a Needle in Your Arm Day.
     Friday was my day to see Dr. Verson, a neurologist. Thursday afternoon, as I sat grousing about having to go back to the Clinic Friday, the phone rang. It was Dr. Miller's nurse. "The results of Tuesday's blood work indicate that you are slightly anemic, and Dr. Miller would like to have a couple more tests run before you come in Tuesday," she said. "I see you have an eleven-o'clock tomorrow with Dr. Verson. We can set you up for the blood work at nine-thirty. Would that be all right?" "That will be great," I said without conviction.
      In truth, though, I was relieved to hear anemia is at least part of the reason I've been in too pooped to pop lately. Some of the tiredness is the result of having to work longer and harder to do the simplest things. In the mornings, getting dressed - putting on socks, a pair of pants, a shirt and my shoes - takes seventeen or eighteen minutes, and that is on a good day. A recent article on WebMD said that tiredness and lack of energy are simply facts of life for someone with MS. Be that as it may, I can't help but feel there is more life in me than I've been able to tap lately. Maybe not, but it is worth hoping for.
     During my visit with Dr. Verson, he asked how the Bupropion is working. "I don't know." I told him. "I thought I was getting depressed, but Dr. Miller says I'm anemic. Maybe I'm just tired." "Maybe," the good doctor said, "but maybe we should give Lexapro a try," Why not. So, for the next six weeks, in addition to the Bupropion I already take, I'll take 20 mg of Lexapro to see if I can tolerate it and if it works for me. If I can, and if it does, Lexapro will become my happy pill of choice.
     None of the above has anything to do with the bad taste the two visits to the Columbus Clinic left in my mouth. The nasty aftertaste was put there by the medical personnel who, when asking a question, directed it to Russ and ignored me. "Can he do this?" one asked Russ as she handed him a clipboard with a form to be filled out on it. "I don't know, ask him." All right, Russ!!!!
     There are a whole passel of Columbus Clinic employees, and a few Covenant Woods' employees, too, who would benefit from some of the in-service programs put on by the Ashtabula County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Then perhaps they'd know, you don't look passed, you don't ignore a person because she looks "retarded," or he is being pushed around in a wheelchair.   
     I don't know for certain, but I do believe I am the only resident on this section of the first floor whose hearing is in the normal range. To make themselves heard, folks around here speak in loud voices. There are times - Monday afternoon, for example - when the people conversing in the hallway might as well be in my apartment.
     As I was preening for dinner, Mildred, who lives across the hall, and Leila, who lives next door, were talking in the hall. Being able to hear folks in the hall while I am using the bathroom is not a good thing. Even when all is quiet, the old urinary tract lollygags once I get in position to deal with the urgent signals it has been sending me. And when there are voices in the hallway, especially female voices, it gets all modest and shuts down until the hallway yakkers shut up. Monday afternoon, however. I was in the hair-combing, teeth-brushing phase when Mildred and Leila had their short conversation.
      When I finished the grooming chores, I went to the dining room. Leila was already there, sitting with Ethel and Anna. The fourth seat at the table was empty, which was a matter of concern for them. Ethel asked if I had seen Mildred. No, I hadn't seen her, but I had done some inadvertent eavesdropping.
     "A few minutes ago, I heard Mildred remind Leila that it was time for her to go to dinner," I said. "And Mildred said she was going out to eat with her son."
     "Oh, yeah, she did say that," Leila said.
     Not only can this guy hear, he sometimes remembers what he heard.

     Al called Monday morning and asked me to come up to his apartment.
     "I went to bed about nine o'clock last night," he told me when I got there. "Three or four times I felt a lot of pressure and thought I was going to have a movement. I'd go in there, sit down and there would be this big explosion, but it was nothing but gas.
     "Then, about a half hour ago, I did have a movement. A big one. It was all black - really black. I left it in there so when hospice gets here they can see it. You want to see it?"
     I declined. I did, however, stick around to listen to tales of excretory woe.The saga went on for twenty minutes until, soon after I politely passed up yet another opportunity to peer into Al's commode, a woman from hospice arrived. She said a nurse named Lou and another woman from hospice would arrive shortly. Realizing I'd be in the way, I took my leave.
     Al didn't sound well when I called him that afternoon, but he did ask that I tell the food service people to send dinner up to him. This was a change. For the last two weeks or more, Al had been saying, "I'm not going to dinner tonight. I've got a can of salmon and some beans up here." And that is what he'd been eating.The dinner from the Covenant Woods' kitchen seemed to help.
     "I was going to go out on the porch and smoke me a cigar," he told me when I called that evening. "But when I opened the door, the wind was right in my face and almost blew me over. I think I'll just pour me a glass of wine."
     When we talked Friday, he told me, "I had a movement this morning - thirteen inches and solid. It felt good. I wish I could have one of those every day."

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