Posts Tagged ‘disease’

English: A SUBWAY Club 6" sandwich.

English: A SUBWAY Club 6″ sandwich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

14 May 2012

The weather at noon was perfect. As I was walking the street I met Nick. He was panning in his usual spot. Nick is diabetic and was taken to the hospital by paramedics last week. I gave him a wave as I passed.

“How’s it going, bro?”

“Great, Nick!”

As I turned right on the sidewalk, toward the lawn, I saw Serge sitting by himself on the curb, in the shade. “Hi, Serge, How are you today?”

“Everyone is up on the lawn. I’m not so good today. I have pains in my legs and in my hands. It feels good just to sit here and stretch my legs out. It’s because I drink too much. What I drink (rubbing alcohol diluted with water) costs me $2.35 a bottle. That’s all I can afford, but it’s not good for me. I think I have arthritis in my hands.” He stretched his fingers to show me how stiff and swollen they were. “In the morning, I have to hold my hands under hot, running water for a while, just to get my fingers moving.”

“Have you tried hot baths, for your legs?” I asked.

“I don’t have a bath tub. I’m staying at the Shepherd’s now, but I have to find a new place. They have me on the Wet Program. I don’t know why? I don’t like it. I used to be on the other side.

Wet Program: Shepherd’s of Good Hope

Partnering with Inner City Health, this area provides 12 beds for chronically homeless, alcoholic, high risk males. The Programs intent is to reduce harm to the individual and to the community by preventing binge drinking of alcohol and alternate stimulants. (mouth-wash, Purelle, Aqua Velva etc.) It also reduces emergency services (police calls, ambulance, hospital stays, cells etc.), decreases the number of incidents in the community (aggressive pan handling, passing out on the streets) and restores dignity and creates a sense of community. The Program provides ongoing health assessments, access to counseling, social and clinical services.

“There’s too much noise. One guy there, he opens and closes the door all night long: open, close, open, close. The man in the bunk beside me, he speaks French, so that’s good, but in the middle of the night, instead of going down the hall to the bathroom, he sits at the edge of his bed and shits on the floor, not once, but twice. That’s no way to act, shitting on the floor like that. I’m going to move to the Salvation Army. I think it will be better there.”

The next person I met, walking down the sidewalk was Hippo. “Hi, Hippo. How did you make out selling that lawn mower?”

“I took it down near the Mission. A taxi driver stopped and asked me if I wanted to sell it. I said, ‘Sure!’ He gave me ten dollars for it.

“Today, I got kicked off Bank Street. A cop gave me half of a Subway sandwich. Five minutes later, another cop came along and told me to move away from there. I only made $1.72, plus the sandwich.”

Sitting on the lawn were the usual group of about six people. I shook hands all the way around. Tracey said, “Dennis this is my friend, Richard. He’s deaf, but he can read lips.”

“Hi, Richard,” I said.

“God bless, he said.”

Standing near the railing of the bridge were Loretta, Outcast and Joy. Loretta borrowed Joy’s cell phone and walked away.

“Hi, Joy. How’s it been, finding a new place?”

“Loretta found a two bedroom apartment on Daly Street, close to downtown. She walked by, it looked good from the outside. She may be phoning about it right now. There’s also a friend of Chuck’s that would rent me a room for $450 a month.

“I’m not feeling so well today. Yesterday I was drinking vodka and cranberry juice. It didn’t agree with me.

“You couldn’t buy me a bottle of sherry, could you?”

“I’m sorry Joy, I don’t have any cash with me. I can give you some bus tickets, but I don’t have any Subway cards. They ran out and won’t have any more until next month.”

“I probably couldn’t handle the sherry anyway. The thought of it makes me feel sick.”

I asked Outcast, “Did you have a birthday on Friday?”

“No, it was Wolf, the one with Shaggy. We had a party at my place. Irene and Shark brought over some spaghetti sauce. We sat around playing dice. Wolf, Irene and Shark left early. I’ve been eating spaghetti since Friday. I’ve had so much It’s coming out my ass, literally.”

“Silver said, “I bet that Joy doesn’t remember the first time we met. I was panning in her old spot. Of course, I moved when she came along. That’s only right.

“I remember, you were with Crast Test at the time. You’d  throw hands full of pennies at him. One time you threw a pear. It splattered all over the wall, and all over Crash. The pigeons loved it, they were all over him pecking at pieces of pear. He said, ‘You didn’t have to throw it so hard.’

Silver started packing his bag to leave. “I’m concerned that the cops will come again and I’ll lose all my beer. I’ve got more to lose than anybody.” He walked back to say good-bye to Richard, Tracey, Jacques and Chester.

When he was out of earshot, Joy said, “That guy really annoys me. He talks even more than Chuck, and what he says doesn’t make any sense.” Fifteen minutes went by and Silver was still saying his good byes.

“Hey, Silver!” said Joy, “I thought you said you were leaving. Why don’t you quit saying good-bye and just go away.”

“In that case,” said Silver, “I’m not leaving, so ‘Liar, liar pants on fire, kissed the boys and made them cry.'”

“Silver,” I said, “I think you have your nursery rhymes mixed up.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I guess that was Georgie Porgie. Oh, well.”

Joy said, “Get out of my face, Silver, or I’ll kill you! Silver, I will kill you!

“Okay, Joy, take it easy.” Silver quietly left.

“Dennis,” said Bleeding Heart, some Saturday you’ll have to come over. All but two of us here have our own places, or else we share. We can have a couple of beer, smoke a few joints, maybe play some dice.

“Sounds good.”

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28 April 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. We have some warm weather for a change and they say it will last a few days.”

“I don’t believe that. I’ll take what we got now, but as far as forecasts are concerned, they’ve been wrong all winter, why would they change now?

“You heard about that big earthquake in Nepal, that killed so many people. We’re overdue for one of those — way overdue. There is a major fault line running right through the middle of the city. I could be sitting here comfortably one minute, the next minute I could be crushed by falling bricks.

“When I first moved to the city, this building was the YMCA. The YWCA was across the street. I tried to stay there but they wouldn’t let me, so I stayed here.

Car horns honked, a driver failed to give right-of-way to a bicycle. Chuck said, “If there was a major car accident at this intersection, I could be killed sitting right here. I could be killed by one of those damned cyclists. They cut across the sidewalk, ride on the wrong side of the street. As far as I’m concerned the priority should be pedestrians first, then cars, then bicycles.

“We have what people are starting to call ‘bicycle trails’. They’re not bicycle trails, they’re nature trails. Cyclists use them as if they own them, tearing around with no respect for other people. My son is just as bad. Several times I was on one of those trails in my wheelchair when he swooped by, nearly hitting me. I told him, ‘The next time you do that I’m going to clothesline you right across the neck, and I will.’

“Remember last year a cyclist on one of those trails hit two little kids, one five years old and the other two. The younger one suffered severe cuts and bruises.  The older one was taken to hospital with blood pouring out of his shoulder. Doctors were so concerned about the swelling on his brain they ordered a CT-scan. The cyclist apologized profusely, but admitted his bike had no brakes. He wasn’t even charged.

“This is a busy week for me. Goldie goes to the vet for her shots and a week Thursday I’ll be going to hospital to have my pacemaker replaced. The doctor explained it all to me. I won’t feel any pain because the whole area will be frozen. He’ll make a new incision over the old one and then remove the old heart device. The new device is then inserted.

“It sounds simple, but he informed me that there may be complications such as infection. This can cause weakened immune system, kidney failure, especially since I’m already taking blood thinners. In rare cases, the new battery is faulty, in which case I die.

I said, “I’m sure everything will work out. You’ll be back out here in no time. I’ll see you tomorrow, Chuck.”







8 September 2014

Hi Dennis, I saw the most amazing thing on Sunday. They moved an entire section of the bridge into place at 9:00 a.m. It was open for traffic at 11:00 a.m. They had graders, front end loaders and water trucks to  get the site ready. It looked at times like they were going to run into each other, but the operation was just like clockwork. The bridge section, that had been constructed nearby was put on rollers and over two hours it was slowly moved into place.

“I phoned my doctor’s office to make an appointment to get the requisition for my blood tests. The receptionist said, ‘The earliest I can get you in is Friday.’ I said, ‘That’s not good enough. I need to see the doctor today. He knows about my heart condition and I’m to take top priority.’ She said, ‘Nobody takes top priority. You’ll wait your turn like everybody else.’ I asked to speak with the doctor. He said, ‘come down this afternoon. We’ll make room for you.’

“My lady friend came with me for my blood test. The receptionist is a crusty old bitch. She asked, ‘Why is this person here?’ I said, ‘It’s none of your god damned business. She’s with me.’ The doctor heard the ruckus and came out. He said, ‘What’s the trouble here?’ I said, ‘Your receptionist is prying into my personal affairs and I won’t have it. Who I have with me is none of her concern.’ The doctor said, ‘I agree with that. Let’s get your blood test done and you can get out of here.’ Before I left I said to the receptionist, ‘Keep your fuckin’ nose out of other people’s business.’ She didn’t know what to say to that.

‘Apart from that the weekend was as usual. I came downtown on Saturday to have coffee with my friends. I bought a few groceries on my way home, then had a nap.

“This morning I forget to take my heart pills. I hope nothing happens because of that. I don’t know what happened that caused me to forget them. I guess, as long as I stay calm, nothing much can go wrong. If it does, my family knows what I want done. I don’t want any kind of church service like they arranged for Sparky. I want to be cremated and for everybody to have a drink and remember how I was. Nothing more, no grave stone, nothing.





9 July 2014

I asked Wolf, “Did you attend Shakes’ funeral on Monday?”

“No, I didn’t. I worked that morning, three hours in the pouring rain. Shaggy jumped out of her caboose and I banged my shin on one of the crossbars. Look, it’s still swollen. Imagine how it looked two days ago. I miss Shakes, but I don’t do well at funerals. I’m an emotional person, even though I can act like a real prick sometimes. Were you around for Digger’s funeral? Maybe that was before your time. I went, when I saw him laying in the casket I broke down crying in front of millions of people. I like to think that Shakes is looking down on us now. I sure hope there is beer in heaven.

I said, “There must be. Why else would anybody go there.

“Frank is really taking it hard. I spoke to him on the bus the other night. We were wondering who would be the next to die, he said, ‘I hope it’s me.”

“Yeah, Frank’s an emotional guy as well. I know from the number of times he’s crashed at my place. I wish these guys would get the message. That sherry that they drink, that’s got to be hard on their systems. Whenever I drink sherry I get a massive hangover. That’s why I have this bruise on my shin. That was a sherry day. I drink a dozen beer a day. I wake up refreshed. Maybe that’s not good for me either. Who knows?

“I’ve talked to Frank. H.I.V. isn’t terminal, like it used to be. I tell him that he should go to a dentist, have those few teeth pulled and get a set of dentures. If I’ve walked half way down here and remember that I haven’t put my dentures in, I’ll go back for them. I lost my bottom set. I tried to get a new plate when I had my jaw broken. I couldn’t get them to pay for it. I’m glad I didn’t have them in at the time. They coulda done a lot of damage to the inside of my mouth.  I shoulda had them replaced, but at least I can smile. What’s that they say about shoulda, coulda and woulda?”

I said, “If the dog hadn’t stopped to shit, he woulda caught the rabbit.”

“Don’t say that too loud in front of Shaggy, not that she can catch anything any more. I just don’t want her feelings to be hurt.”

Danny stopped by with some posters he had printed in memory of  of Shakes. His image was in the center, above it a soaring eagle. The caption read, flying above the cloud “I AM THE EAGLE!!”  Thoughts and Prayers are on the Wings of many Eagles, for you Shakes… Long May you Soar.

He said, “A friend of mine printed these. I’m selling them for ten bucks each, the cost of reproduction. I thought that friends of Shakes would appreciate a picture of him.

Wolf said, “Here’s a picture of Shakes that Stella brought me today. He’s lying down, with his bottle of Dr. Pepper, just like we remember him. I thought that was a nice gesture.





17 June 2014

“Dennis you’re early. It’s only 8:30. Did you piss the bed or something?”

“Hi, Chuck, I never know whether my bus is going to be early or late. Whether or not I make my transfer connection is another problem. Still no Joy, I guess her legs are bothering her again.

Chuck said, “I used to have a problem holding my urine, even when I was an adult. My doctor prescribed some medication and it solved the problem.

“Did I tell you about when I worked for the real estate developer. He used to rent to a lot of people who were on social assistance or pensions. If they were employed he charged $750 a room, if they had their rent paid through the government it was $850. Some of them had no intention of staying. I’d ask them right up front, “Do you plan to stay for a few months or do you plan to move on right away. We’d split the deposit.  Sometimes I’d rent the same apartment five times in one day.

“That was around the time they were talking about legalizing prostitution. This developer was on city council. He said to me, “If this legislation goes through. I’m going to clean out this building, rent it to prostitutes by the hour. You’ll have a job at the door as timekeeper. How does that sound?’ I said, ‘It sounds great!’ “

I asked, “If you get your enclosed scooter, are you going to have to find a place nearby to park?”

“No, I’ll only use it in winter, to pickup groceries, to take Goldie for her appointments. It’ll be a lot warmer for her, that’s my main concern. It also has larger wheels, so I wont have to worry so much about snow. Every winter that’s a problem for me. In the summer I’ll use this chair just like always.

“I guess I told you about the woman I’m seeing.  We’d agreed to go for lunch on Thursday, but that’s the day I make the most money. I’m going to call her and see if we can reschedule for today. It’s been really slow so far.”

At noon I was surprised to see Yves in a wheel chair. I asked, “What happened. Were you in an accident?”

“No, I’ve got some problems with my blood. There are about seven places where the arteries are constricted. I don’t have blood clots, but I don’t even have the energy to walk a half block. Not enough oxygen is getting to my blood. I’m going to the doctor later for more tests.”

Shakes was next to greet me, “Hi, Dennis, we haven’t seen you for a long time. How’s everything going? Same old, same old?”

“Yeah, that about covers it. How about you? Where are you staying — at Jake’s place?”

“Yeah, I stayed there last night. I brought over two bottles, a gram of pot and some smokes. He was glad to see me, ’cause he had nothing to drink.

“I spent yesterday with my daughter, Betty. We both got drunk together. She gave me the sweetest Father’s Day card. I could hardly read it.”

“Why was that? Do you need glasses?”

“No, I was having trouble seeing through my tears.

I said, “That’s a good way to get her attention.” Shakes laughed.

I sat down beside Wolf. “Dennis,” he said, “did you hear that I graduated?”

“No, what did you graduate from?”

“I took a course on the perils of alcoholism and addictions. I was just there to get my certificate. My lawyer said that if I could show that I was making an effort, the judge may go easier on me when my case came up. There was one part where they asked about triggers. I had to say something. I said, “The first trigger in the morning is opening the fridge and seeing a couple of  beer. I drink that and I’m on my way. Another trigger is having money in my pocket. I’m tempted to go out and get some pot and more beer. A lot of what they said made sense, but it would have been more important for the younger guys. They asked us to itemize what we spent each day. After I buy my beer, pot and cigarettes I’m looking at about forty bucks. That’s not counting pay week where I might go wild and spend my whole check getting wasted. But, like I said, it’s more important for the young guys. Even if I had an extra two hundred a week, what would I spend it on?

“I finished all my books. The last one was a doozy. I’m the furthest thing from a sadist, but this book was gory. The plot of the book was stolen identity. They’d find a street person that nobody knows,  that looks like someone else. They kill him, cut his arms, legs and head off, so there’s nothing left but the torso. Then, with plastic surgery, they make the other person look like the guy they just killed. It’s kind of extreme, but if someone’s running from the mob, it’s worth their while.”

I asked, “Is this one of the books that one of your little old ladies gave you?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think they were into stuff like that.”

Jacques was being very quiet , drinking out of a cup with the message printed on it, ‘If I appear interested in what you’re saying   — I’m not!’

Little Jake was guzzling sherry and choking and coughing as he tried to inhale some pot. Wolf said, “He was the same the other night at my neighbor’s place. The guy said to me, ‘Wolf I’m going to have to ask you to take your friend and leave. He’s too noisy.’ So, I took him to my place.”

It was time for me to leave. I shook hands all around and said, “Depending on the weather, I’ll see you all tomorrow.”

“See you , Dennis.”





16 June 2014

“Hi, Chuck, it’s a beautiful morning.”

“Yes, I’m surprised that Joy’s not here. I don’t know if It’s because she doesn’t do Mondays or if her fibromyalgia is bothering her. Last week she said that her legs were sore.”

“What is fibromyalgia?”

Chuck explained, “It’s when you don’t drink enough milk, or eat properly. She should be eating more liver. Chicken is also good, but she needs red meat as well.  I don’t think she’s getting enough protein or iron.”

I said, “Joy once told me that, a few years back,  she ate one meal a week, on Sundays. Then she’d pig out at the Mission.”

“I knew this woman once. I used to go out with her. She had some strange ideas about nutrition.  She was always telling her daughter not to eat this, not to eat that. It got to the point that the girl was afraid to eat anything and became anorexic. She had no color to her skin — she looked like a ghost. The woman’s nephew got a job at a restaurant. He was warned about a scary lady that sometimes came in. One day, one of the other waiters said to him, “Here she comes, Scary Lady One  and she has her daughter, Scary Lady Two with her. When he saw that it was his aunt and cousin, he dropped his apron and never came back.

“This hasn’t been a very good day for me. A lot of my Monday regulars haven’t shown up. I guess they must be on holidays. It’s surprising, because several of them said, ‘See you Monday, Chuck.’

“I see so many people with cell phones hanging out of their back pockets. Do you know the number one cause of cell phone damage. It’s when people go to the bathroom and their phone falls into the toilet bowl. It happens to women more than men.

I said, “Some of those phones cost up to a thousand dollars.”

“Some of them more than that. All I want is a phone that phones. I don’t need all of the other bells and whistles, but do you think I can find one? Of course, I’ve got that ongoing problem with Bell. I was in one of their stores and the guy told me they don’t make basic cell phones anymore. I said, ‘You’re a goddamned liar! You just want me to buy something more expensive, so you get a higher commission.’ I won’t go into that place again.”

I asked, “Do you remember when a person used to be able to pay their phone bill at the Bell office?”

“Yeah, the office was just down the street. You’d go in, they’d have wickets just like at a bank. You could pay cash — there was no problem. I don’t carry credit cards and I only use my debit card at the bank. My check is deposited right into my account. I regret making that arrangement, because my friends who get their’s by mail, have them a day earlier. When it gets toward the end of the month, a day can make a big difference.

“Did you hear that our Prime Minister Harper is going to do away with checks going out in the mail. It costs too much. They’re phasing this in over the next two years, so, after that,  if a person doesn’t have a bank account they wont get a check. It’s just another way the government is trying to get out of paying people.”





2 June 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, as you can see I’m running late.”

“Yeah, I looked at my watch a few minutes ago and thought, I guess he’s not coming today.

“Well, today is the day of reckoning. They’re coming to pickup my wheelchair. I left a message saying I wouldn’t be home until after two. I hope they got it. I also told them who I don’t want coming over — that asshole who called me a liar and a fool in my own home.

“That’s good news.”

“They say they’ll fix it, but they wont.  What I ordered, and what I had before was a Quantum 6000. What they gave me was a Quantum 1402, also called a Quickie. There’s a big difference. When social services asked me why I accepted it, I said, ‘They had me in a room at the back, I had no way to get home. They forced me.’ I need that wheelchair. I had that first chair four years before it finally wore out. They replaced it with a Quickie. They just changed the rear wheels so it would look like a 6000. I can recognize a Quickie from across the street. Before mine was replaced I’d talked to people who had Quickies. They told me they were a pile of crap.  I knew it when I first saw it. Look at this hand control. See, how loose it is? The repairman said that I had been forcing it too hard. I never do that. It just takes a slight pressure with my thumb. It’s just like firing a pistol. Have you ever fired a pistol?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then you know how it feels. It’s just a gentle squeeze, not a pull. The rest of the problems are underneath. I’ve told them from the first about the rear wheel not working properly. If  I try to climb a curb with the bad wheel I’ll get thrown right into the street — Of course that’s going to cause some damage, but it’s not my fault.

“I’m still working towards that electric car. It’s really just an enclosed scooter, but it will make all the difference to me. The guy I’ve been talking to said I could put down a lump sum then pay forty-five dollars a month. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to make payments in the winter. He said, “That’s alright.” When I die he’ll take the scooter and sell it for whatever he can.”

I said, “That sounds just like a lease arrangement. That sounds good.

“Take care, Chuck. I have to go.”





30 May 2014

Pandemonium reigned at the park today. While I greeted Joy, Chester interrupted by asking, “Dennis, do you have any bus tickets?” I shook hands with Jacques, Mariah,  Debbie and Shakes  on the curb,  Ghyslain and Little Jake sitting on the sidewalk.

Ghyslain said, “I’d get up to shake your hand, but I’m on roller blades.”

I came back to Joy who said, “Big Jake has gone for the weekend.”

I asked, “Where has he gone?”

Chester asked, “Dennis do you have any bus tickets?”

Joy said, “He’s gone to his parent’s cottage in the Muskokas. We’ve been together for eight years now and he hasn’t introduced me to his parents. What do you think of that? I ‘m so pissed off.”

Chester asked, “Dennis, do you have any bus tickets?”

“Here, Chester,” I said as I handed him the tickets.

Jacques offered me a cushion and I sat between him and Shakes. Ghyslain was on the sidewalk in front of me. He asked, “Dennis, did you see the game last night?”

“No,” I said, “I didn’t see it.”

“You don’t follow hockey? It was a real disappointment. Montreal was beat out by New York. It’s been twenty-two years since a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup. It wasn’t Tokarski’s fault, he was standing on his head to make some of those saves, he allowed only one goal, but that was all it took for the Rangers to win.  Now it will be the winner between Chicago and Los Angeles who plays New York for the finals.”

Little Jake came over to talk to Shakes, “You got paid yesterday. It’s time to pay your debts.”

“What debts?”

“To me, asshole. Who do you think has been feeding you?”

Jake stormed off with a scowl on his face. Shakes said to me, “He’s on new meds. That’s why he’s so cranky. He’s had a go at everybody today.” He pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels from his inside jacket pocket and passed it around.

Debbie stood up to try to soothe Jake. “Come on Jake, sit down and relax.”

You, get away from me. Don’t you dare put a finger on me.”

“Or what, Jake? What are you going to do to me? Are you going to hit me? Don’t you dare touch me again.”

As this was going on Joy was yelling at Raven, “You piece of shit. You stole money from Chester. I know he gave you his bank number and you cleaned out his account. You did the same thing when I was living there.” Mariah was holding Joy back as Raven walked away. Chester was rocking back and forth on the plastic crate he was sitting on.

Jacques said to me, “Chester isn’t supposed to drink hard liquor. It could kill him. His legs go when he drinks that stuff.”

I asked, “What’s wrong with his legs?”

“He’s got a bad knee, but the real problem is when he drinks, he can’t stand. Me, I just have a couple of beer and leave it at that. I know I can’t drink hard liquor or wine.”

Joy said, “I have to get Chester back to his place. We’re going to have to get a cab. Can somebody help me get him up.” Mariah, Jake and Debbie tried to help get him vertical.

A woman stopped and asked, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Mariah, the voice of reason, said, “He’ll be fine, we’re going to phone a cab.”

Mariah said, “Okay, we got him up, now what do we do? He won’t walk. It would probably be better if we took him over to the lawn where he could sleep it off for a while.” He was a dead weight and ended up lying on the sidewalk. “The police will be here if we don’t move him soon.”

Jake said, “He’s not garbage, you’re not going to just dump him on the lawn.”

Mariah said, “Nobody’s dumping him, Jake. There’s nothing else we can do. After he sleeps it off for a while we can get him in a cab.”

We all lifted, dragged and pushed Chester to a secluded part of the lawn. He lay down and fell asleep.

Jacques picked up his radio, drinking bottle and cushion and said, “I’m getting away from all this bullshit. I don’t need this drama in my life. I’m going home where it’s quiet.”

Debbie and Joy were sitting on the curb. Debbie had her arm around Joy who was visibly shaking. “She’s having one of her epileptic seizures. It’s okay girl, you’ll be alright.”

I asked, “Was it all the stress with Chester that brought this on?”

“Stress, booze, malnutrition, anything can bring one on.”

After about five minutes joy awoke. She sobbed, “I hate when this happens. Do I have snot all over my face.”

“No,” said Debbie, “you look just fine. If you want you can blow your nose on my sleeve. It’s clean.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can. I do it when I don’t have Kleenex. What else am I supposed to do.”

Joy said, “Thanks, Dennis. I’m sorry about all this. I’m really hammered.”

I said, “Just take care of yourself. There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’ll see you Monday. Have a good weekend.”





30 October 2013

Chuck Senior was in his wheel chair, at his usual corner. I stopped and asked, “How are you feeling, Chuck. You mentioned yesterday that your stomach was upset and you had diarrhea. Has that settled down?”

“Yeah, I mostly had a sore throat. I can’t take Halls because they’re too strong, but I got something at the drug store that’s smoother on my throat and has a crème center.  I also ate fish last night. I think that the oil in the fish helped my throat.

“I’ve had a lot of problems with my esophagus. I’ve had  a lot of gastroscopies. They left a permanent tube that goes from my esophagus to my stomach. The last time I had one the nurse said to me, ‘This might hurt a bit.’ I didn’t flinch. After she finished she said to me, ‘You’re the bravest patient I’ve ever had.’ I didn’t tell her about the plastic tube. I let her think what she wanted.

“I think I know how I got the sore throat. A lot of women stop to pat Taffy, then they give me a kiss.  I noticed that one woman had a hoarse voice. I think I got the sore throat from her.

“A lot of people don’t know it but Taffy is a medical response dog. She can detect when I’m about to have a seizure. She’ll growl, then I know to lie down, before I fall.”

As I was standing there, many people dropped change into Chuck’s up turned baseball cap and patted Taffy. She loved the attention.

“So, do a lot of women kiss you?”

“Yeah, dozens of them. I just wish I was younger and fitter so I could do something about it. I’ve got so many ailments. I’ve had kidney failure, that’s what I take the water pills for.  They cause me to get up four or five times a night to pee. Only a little dribble comes out each time. From the kidney problems I developed Hypokalemia. It means I have low potassium levels.  For that I take half a banana and a dose of liquid potassium chloride. I’ve been on that for ten years and I still haven’t gotten used to it. I eat the rest of the banana to kill the taste and clear my throat.

“I’ve had part of my colon removed. I’ve had so many heart attacks I can’t count them. I’ve officially died nine times. They put in a pacemaker to regulate my heartbeat. Before I go to bed I take nine pills. I’m on blood thinners. When I had my pacemaker put in they forgot to take me off the blood thinners. I knew that was wrong.  I developed internal bleeding. They had to operate to fix that. My blood pressure went way down.

 Then, there are my three puffers. I developed asthma from living in a basement apartment in Orleans. I didn’t know it until I moved out, but it was contaminated with black mold. I noticed it on the backs of shelves where I had stuff piled.  Behind furniture and under the carpet there was a thick layer of it. I can’t prove that it was the mold that caused the asthma, otherwise I’d sue the landlord.

“I hadn’t been feeling well for a long time. it just kept getting worse. I was weak, trembling, had dizzy spells. That’s when the seizures started. I couldn’t leave the house for days.

“I had a fight with my doctor. When the nurse tested my heart last, she went to get the doctor. From the look on his face I knew it was something bad, but he wouldn’t tell me what it was. I asked him to give me a written report. He refused, said, ‘I don’t have to give you a report.’ I said, It’s my heart.  I got a right to know what’s happening to it. He said, ‘No, you don’t.’ So , now I don’t know what to think.

“The doctor weighed me. I was one sixty-one.  He said, you’ve gained seven pounds since you were here last. I said, ‘I feel better with that extra weight. I don’t get sick as often. I don’t get as cold.’ He said, ‘You’re going to have to drop that weight.’ I said, ‘I will, as soon as you drop that fifty pounds you’ve got hanging from your gut.’ So, no more mashed potatoes with gravy, no more steak, no more apple pie and ice cream; all the things I love.”

I said, “I have to go to work now.”

“Work,” he said, “Is a four letter word.”

“Yes it is,.  I just can’t afford to retire.”

“I wish I was fit enough to work, then I wouldn’t have to do this.”