Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nothing is Easy.

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.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Life in America.

My wife has Alzheimer's. From what I can piece together, she's been in decline for eight years and now she's close to death. She is in hospice care and while I can't guess whether we she knows who I am, I know that she's happy to see me. Two days ago she reached for my hand and pulled it close to her. Holding it, she closed her eyes and seemed content.

Today the nursing home called to tell me that Jenny had gotten out of bed and scooted down the hall to be with other people. She can't walk, but she can scoot.

Unless a miracle happens and our Republican administration grows a heart, Jenny will be coming home to die. We are out of money. We did all of the right things. We saved money. We invested. But eight years of terminal illness has taken all of it. Every goddamn cent.

But I'm ready for this. I think. Wendy thinks she's ready for this.

We'll see.

Thanks, Republicans. You guys are so empathetic. You are so Christian.

when will you feel like an idiot?

Trump has backed away from eliminating Obamacare, the great wall, and now his massive deportation.

Do you realize now that you were taken for stupid?

Probably not. Stupid people rarely realize that they're stupid. I see them every day, on their cell phones, piloting a big ass SUV thinking, "I'm winning."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tonight we watched The Crown, episode 4, where they mention the town where I was born, Donora, PA and the toxic fog caused by coal burning.

In the states the health crisis was the beginning of our modern environmental movement. In London it was the end of Churchill's time in office.

Very few admire Churchill more than I do. The Gathering Storm is a brilliant piece of writing.

Why do I mention it here? Because Trump has promised a renewal of the coal industry. This in spite of cheaper natural gas and mountaintop clearing that provides few jobs and pollutes drinking water.

The crisis in Donora inspired me to write the short story, After the War, which you can buy on Amazon for 99 cents.

Today I went to see my wife. She is dying and under hospice care. It cost me $3600 a month. She makes $1688 a month in Social Security. I make $1800.

You can see that even if I lived in the woods off squirrels and berries, the numbers don't add up.

So Jenny will be coming home to die. I will take care of her, just as I did between 2011 and 2015. I will need help as I've gone through all of our savings and our retirement accounts. I am too old to be hired for anything a few bucks over minimum wage. That is the reality. That is not reality television.

For everyone who voted for Trump, know that you voted to throw me, and people like me, away.

What a happy present to give on Veteran's Day.

If you have ever declared yourself a Christian. If you have ever voted because "character counts". If you have ever voted because you are appalled at our decline in moral values and you voted for this philandering, morally bankrupt, dishonest human being, congratulations, you are a hypocrite, by definition.

Wear the label so the rest of us can know who to blame.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

With the rise of Trumpism, I think it's time to relight the Planet. It may take me a few days, but I need a voice.

Is a blog as old fashioned as the rotary dial? Am I sending out Morse code in the age of the Internet?

I don't know.

But I do know that I am outraged. A horrible human, devoid of character, has seized the executive seat of government.

So I am here. An angry voice in the void.