Over the years I've had people ask me to do things, simple things, things that for people in normal circumstances might take a few hours out of their day.
Dealing with anything Alzheimer's related, I've learned that anything takes a minimum of three phone calls and at least an afternoon. I'm not even factoring in the pain in the ass factor.
Nothing is easy.
I went to Human Services on Monday and laid out my case: My wife has lived beyond our savings. I can no longer afford the $3600 a month I've been paying for the past 18 months. What do I do now?
Wendy, the woman who has seen some redeeming qualities in this broken down writer, said she was prepared to bring my wife home to die. For me, that was saying you take out those zombies, I have your back with this horde over here. This was the apocalypse.
Caring for Jenny in 2014, when her decline mirrored western civilization's with everything on fire and panic in the streets, made me more than a little crazy. It took an intervention for me to let go and find people who could care for my wife all day every day.
One day, one of her new caregivers said, "It takes three people to give her a shower." I laughed, because I remembered all those mornings I did it alone.
Nothing is easy.
Today, I called to get the contact information for the care facility's physician. I need him or her to fill out a form that would allow me to move Jenny from assisted living, which I could no longer pay for, and into a skilled nursing home, where a combination of Medicare and Medicaid would cover the enormous expense.
I got the physician's number. I called. This is how the call went:
I expected a nurse to answer, or a response a bit more professional than an irritated hello.
Is this Dr. Bag?
This is Douche, what do you want? Who is this?
I was taken aback by his tone, I admit, and I stammered out my name and my wife's name, who is one of his patients.
Is this Dr. Bag? You are a physician?
I'm a PA. Who gave you this number?
Caswell House. You are my wife's physician. They told me you're her physician and I need you to sign a form FL-2.
They had no business giving you this number. Whoever gave you this number should be fired. This is illegal.
Always curious as to legal questions, I asked, How is this illegal?
Dr. Bag stammered bit and said, Privacy.
I told him again what I needed and who I was and who his patient was.
They had no business giving you this number. This is my cell phone. I have 405 patients. Can you imagine if every family member had my number? Can you imagine?
I said I could.
Do you remember who gave you this number?
I said I didn't, and wouldn't have given a name even if I could. I went back to the main issue. I needed him to fill out and sign a form FL-2. I then told him I didn't expect this hostility. I just needed a form.
In the past, before I learned patience with Jenny's illness, I would have flamed this guy. I would have used bad words and wondered aloud about his parentage and upbringing. Which would have gotten me nowhere.
Instead, I asked again about the form.
He backed off a bit, Dr. Douche Bag, PA. He told me he would give me what I needed on Friday when he went on his weekly rounds to Caswell House.
I thanked him.
Then he said, I'll be sorry to see Jennifer go. She's one of my favorite patients, She is so sweet and always has a smile.
I was disarmed. I told him I had been lucky in that Jenny, unlike many Alzheimer's patients, had never been combative, but always sweet and good-hearted. I said that I missed her like a man would miss a limb. I began to cry on the phone with this strange, angry man.
We hung up and I wept for a while longer.
Nothing is easy. Nothing.