On the last Friday of February, Russ picked up his old man and carted me off to see Dr. Verson, the neurologist. "How's the Lexapro [the antidepressant he'd prescribed] working?" the doc asked. "The cure was worse than the disease. I took the stuff for three days and quit. It made my legs and feet stiffer and less cooperative than they already are."
"Why don't we try Adderall?"
"There are a few other things we could try, but Adderall is less expensive. Insurance companies sometimes make a fuss about the other ones."
"OK, I'll try Adderall."
"Two things: take it first thing in the morning, it sometimes causes sleep problems; and watch your blood pressure."
From there, Russ and I went to the checkout desk and on to the drug store. I started popping the pills Saturday and took one each morning.The effect was immediate. It didn't lift my spirits so much as it made my mind easier to work with. I was able to concentrate. I read stuff - really read stuff instead scanning a few paragraphs, saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah," and going on to something else. I finally had a modicum of success with the mindfulness exercises I've been trying to do for the last two or three months. I still couldn't focus on my breathing for long, but I could stay focused longer than the microsecond or two I had managed before.
I thought about getting my blood pressure checked a couple times. But I felt good, and in the grand Harris tradition, at least the Thomas Jr. tradition, I said, "Tomorrow. I'll do that tomorrow." Thursday was as good a tomorrow as any, and I went to see Pat, one of the nurses' assistants.
"A little high today, Tom," she said. "162 over 93."
A little high, indeed. Certainly higher than the 120-something-over-70-something it had been at Dr. Verson's office and at just about every other doctor's office I've visited in the three years I've been down here. The next morning, Friday, I passed on the Adderall and was no worse for the wear. Saturday morning, however, my mind was back in its unmanageable state. Since then I have stayed on an every-other-day schedule. Have I had my blood pressure checked? Well, no. I'm going to do that tomorrow.
William came by Monday morning. I think he was looking for an apology, or at least some indication that I wasn't upset with him and Richie, my next door neighbor. Nothing of that sort was forthcoming.
Sunday night, I went to bed around ten. Richie had his TV on. I could hear it, but it wasn't loud; most nights I would have hardly noticed it and quickly fallen asleep. But Sunday sleep wasn't coming easily. When Richie turned the TV off around quarter of eleven, I wallowed in the silence, and by eleven o'clock I was about to tumble into dreamland. "Hey!" William shouted as he came down the hall just then and let himself in Richie's room.
Richie and William are both loud and so insistent on being heard they seldom stop to listen to each other, or to anyone else, for that matter. In all their conversations, there are periods of yelling. They come like waves, as Richie and William compete to see who can use the F-word the most times in a minute. They sound like a couple of sixth -graders who just learned the word and can't say it enough.
After forty-five minutes of trying to ignore them, I called the desk. The guy working security Sunday has been here about two months. I don't know his name, but he seemed delighted at the prospect of coming down and dealing with the situation. William was gone when the security fellow got there. I heard Richie tell the security guy he had told William to leave.
Monday morning, after spending a few minutes in Richie's room, William came to see me. He wanted to know what was wrong. I told him. He said he and Richie had talked for just a few minutes. I told him it was more like forty-five minutes and got the cell phone out to show him the time of my call to the desk. "Oh," he said. "But my neighbors upstairs don't get upset with what I do." Unlike most of the residents, I told him, I'm not hard of hearing. "Yeah, you've got a point there." For good measure, I pointed out that he comes to see Richie all the time, but Richie seldom goes to see him. "That's true. I just wanted to be sure you aren't upset," William said and left.
My sanity, like the spider in what's-his-name's sermon about sinners in the hands of angry God, is hanging by the slenderest of threads. Three weeks ago, the tread on my wheelchair's drive wheels split. To keep the chair operational until it can be repaired or retired and replaced by a new one, I have stayed indoors. The carpet has to be easier on the tires than asphalt.
I didn't realize how much I enjoyed my little jaunts around the parking lots until now. Going out for a spin every morning was a much bigger part of my life than I ever imagined. On weekday mornings, James is out tossing garbage into the dumpster behind C building. And each morning, he'd bring me up to date with the sports world, giving me a synopsis of that day's SportsCenter. Randy's morning duty is to get the leaves off the driveways and pick up any scattered trash. Randy is a fount of complaints, but he is one of the world's most crude and colorful complainers. Whether he was jawing about his job or whining about his women, Randy's complaining always got me laughing.
Down by the duplexes, Fran would be out with dog, Sassy, and we'd talk for a moment. Sometimes Millie or Janet would be out, and a hi-how-are-you-have-a-good-day conversation would ensue. And staff on their way to work would sometimes stop and talk for a minute. It was my social time and I miss it - really miss it.
Two weeks ago, a guy from Convalescent Care, which does sales and service on wheelchairs, came out and took a picture of the bad tires and got the wheelchair's serial number. Last week, Nick, who is one of managers at Convalescent Care, was in the building, and I asked him about my chair. He said the fellow who was out here had given him the stuff, which he would take a look at and get back to me early this week. It's Tuesday and I haven't heard from Nick. But Annie, who is often the go-between for Nick and the residents, said this morning that Nick was here yesterday and told her they will be getting to me soon. I hope so.
Yesterday afternoon, Russ took me grocery shopping and then over to their place so I could share a pizza with Karen and him. When Russ pushed me in the door, Molly, their dachshund - either miniature or toy, I'm not sure which - went into paroxysms of glee. She insisted on being put on my lap, and once there she showered me with sloppy dog kisses for fifteen minutes. I hope when Hayden and MaKenna arrive here next month they will find their grandpa just as lovable. When I mentioned that to Russ, he said, "But Dad, you bribe Molly with food." Well, let me just say this, I'm willing to bribe Hayden and MaKenna with whatever it takes to have my face covered in kisses.
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