Sunday, April 2, 2017

I ain't got no pot to ...

Buzz......Buzz.....Buzz  ** Click.

"Free Marijuana for sick people. Can I help you get sump'n?"

Uh, yeah um I'm Tom Martin and I was told that I need to speak with you folks to -

"Yeah, yeah, Everybody's needy, my friend.  Who set you up?"

That would be my Psychiatrist, Doctor U* and he -

"Wait, wait man.  Your psychiatrist wants is Doctor Who?"

No, no.  Not The Doctor. MY doctor is U******.  He's local.


"He ain't got a Tardis, huh?"


Right. No timelords need apply.  But I did hope to find out what I need to do get marijuana.

"Wait, how old are you?"

I'm, uhhhhh, 60 ish."

Silence.

Still there, sir? I asked.

"Sorry, man. I can't believe a guy that old has now idea how to find weed, at some point.  Now just for me to be sure, if you're 60, you must have gone through the 1970s, right.  Plenty around as I recall, or rather I have been informed, if you get my meaning.  You must have been in high school or college.  There must have a buddy who could have set you up."

There was.  I just never went to his setup.  Look, I'm supposed to be interviewed for the program, so maybe we could...

"Guess what? This is the interview.  So far you're old and confused and have been since Nixon was in town.  No wonder Doctor Who wanted you prepped.  Now next do you need instruction in assembling a doobie?



Look, I've got MS and whatever goes in the paper will fall right back in to the can.  I'm using pills for it.

"Well, that ain't much fun.  You see, you shoulda started years back, I'm telling you. You would had have an occupation or a hobby in the nursing home - 

I live in a age 55 plus condo, please.  

"Yeah? tell me how many pills they got you on? All your doctors."

I think its about 15 or so.

"Fifteen? Dude, I want some of that.  I'm a missing a moment here."

Come on.

"No, man you got a nice apartment  that's 55 year old, and you've got yourself 15 scrips? Food? Cable? Heat? You're fine, fella.  I want the names of your doctors."

So you can get some of what I'm on? Nope. You don't want it.  But really you should have all the paperwork, anyway. I had it faxed over.

"Wait a minute.  Lemme see  Lemme see. Nope.  Your name was what?  Oh, yeah.  Nope sorry.  The doctors who gave you so many pills were too busy giving out even more happy pills to other sad songs like you."

Some people need them, sir.

"Sorry, man.  Look you're gonna have to do this yourself, at least, to start.  We are only as good as the information we have, and we got none on you except your name, you live in an old folks home and you're drugged up your whazoo.  You gotta hit the streets, my man, and don't let the streets hit cha back.  Little joke there.  Get me stuff and then I can set you up with stuff."

Stay with me as the hunt continues....



Sunday, February 19, 2017

OK, I'm 60 years old and now(!) I get to experience medical marijuana. I have a sudden weird need to wear bell bottom jeans, put on a pastel shirt, let my hair grow, and groove out to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I wish I had hair to grow....




Sorry, Little Buddy.  Should've tried that pot the Professor snuck on the S.S. Minnow to try on Ginger and Mary Ann.



I don't have to roll my own. I would not know how to roll anything except maybe dough, and that poorly.  Try and keep teeny weeny seeds on a small cut of paper when your hand shakes just a little 



And while I'm at it, why are pills round? What's wrong with ovals? My oval pill does not try to flee.  Gel caps try incessantly to get away and some times can for a while, hiding under the couch.  What's wrong with a trapezoid? See that triangle pill? No problems.  But even as they are placed onto my tongue, they never stop trying to flip[ out, leaving their nasty taste so I have to use two full glasses of water to get them down, which goes into my kidneys and that's a whole other column.



I mean take a look at the picture.  The pills are grouped by time I take them.  The pills on the white square are breakfast pills.  The ones on the left are lunch pills, the four below nighttime.  There's also Clonzepam in its nice sealed square packet, which merely temps you into thinking "well, I can get this ready to pop into my mouth ".  The pill emerges as you tear open the packet and immediately seeks freedom away from where it is supposed to be - my mouth. And the search is on - where on the beige shag carpet could it be hiding?

For the last ten days or so, I've been without a number of these pills due to a payment screw up between Medicare and Blue Cross insurance.  I may be the culprit as I still try to master computers as if I still know what I'm doing.  OK, I can luck out and do Class AAA job, but I've sort of become  a B minus guy.  I get the basics, and maybe that's all now.

The loss of the pills made my body twitch more and more, instead of the minor blips of even a week before.  That and my temper was resurrected from its grave.  Sleep was just nightmares, and only quietly screaming about not going to bed, but the body and mind tired of whatever I did thought and in I'd go and my personal Twilight Zone would begin.

So medical marijuana joins the group.  I shall keep you up do date.

And oddly enough, the first song that came on my iPod when I was taking my shower was "Got to get you into My Life", Sir Paul McCartney's song about pot.

"Say we'll be together every day
Got to get you into my life."





Friday, January 27, 2017

Crying...over you.

Do you remember the first time you cried? Not the I'm-hungry-there's- a-smelly-stuff-thing-near-what-I-think-are-called-legs. Hey! I-need-a-little-help-here kind.

When was the first time you cried because something so terrible had happened that you could not process it in anyway? When your parental figure just had to hold you and let you get it all out?

I'm sure there were times before but the first time I can remember crying, really weeping until my eyes hurt.

50 years ago tonight.  January 27 1967.


When I was a kid I loved the space program and, of course, dinosaurs.  Thereforet, this show made me happy...


But there was no Doctor to console me when I was 10 years old.  I knew the names of every astronaut on every flight.  I followed every launch and listened intently to Walter Cronkite and Jules Bergman talking Project Mercury capsules, Gus Grissom's capsule sinking after he splashed down in the Pacific and the Navy having to scramble to pluck him out of the sea before he went down with the ship.  John Glenn's words "Zero G and I feel fine, capsule is turning around.  Oh! that view is tremendous!" I have a Mercury capsule with GI Joe in it.  Right on my book shelf.  GI Joe and his capsule also came with a yellow 78 rpm that had the launch and a narrated version of Glenn's journey around the Earth.  That record is long gone, but I'm fine with it because my brain has been kind enough to allow me access to parts of the recording.  I have to take the small wins where I can get them.

Gemini flights with the Mercury Astronauts and other guys with the right stuff.  Ed White's walk in space.  Two ships docking practice. I have a plastic model of the two man Gemini capsule, all parts painted as they actually were - I had the books!  We were going to the moon.

In my ten year old memory, I had no concept of people "dying".  Everyone I knew was still there, and always would be.  My mother's mom had died when I was four, and I had no idea what was going on, and it appears my parents wanted it that way, as even today I have no idea of the woman or that time.  And now no one left to tell me.  So I just went on until January 27, 1967.

"People die," my mother said. "They're still your heroes, right."

"But they hurt...", I said.

"And you do too," she said.  "But there will be more."

More.  The world goes on, as I and most humans on the planet realize at some point.  The question is how fast and how far, and is it worth it to you?  You may need to cry again.

I'm not sure how folks will answer that.  But lemme tell you, ever since I had a wallet, in that wallet was a picture of Ed White during his space walk "floating on his tin can".  Two and half years later Americans were on the moon (really, they were).  And that day was one of the best days of my still young life.


Ed White  Roger Chaffee Gus Grissom

I still mourn these men, and am still puzzled why NASA used straight oxygen for the guys to breathe in the TINY Apollo capsule? Scientists might have remembered that oxygen feeds fire, and pure oxygen would do what, brainiacs? But....never mind.

While I may have shed tears in later times (that would be all of 3) nothing was like this day for me. People die. People burn up and die. Be glad you had the chance to know them. In any time.

"Challenger, go with throttle up."

"Crying over you,
Crying over you,
Yes, now you're gone,
and from this moment on,
I'll be crying, crying, crying, crying
Yes, crying, crying,
Over you." 

Roy Orbison

Man, I miss them still.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Spazzing is a MS thing or how to be a hypnagogic jerk

And now...spazzing.

I’d like to start off with my best spazz (uh..muscle spasms, a very annoying symptom).  Many of us have muscle twitchings as part of our own MS world (your symptoms may vary) but on for me, when I lay down my weary bald head, the twitching begins. Upper back, left arm, the upper left thigh, dash over to my lips, and a stop in the back before it repeats.

And then comes the best part, but allow the pictures and words below tell the story.

I was in a doctor’s office awaiting my wife Jackie’s return from her appointment with her physician.



A waiting room like this one, only there were actual humans in some of the chairs.  I’d put me in the far row, the second chair just below the right hand framed picture. And as I’m usually prepared for these waits (30 years and you should have picked up the pattern, or you won’t still be there in 30 years).  I had my book and my Starbuck’s latte.
                                           

And the waiting began.  The book was a thick one on the Civil War and, after 20 minutes, the small details of the Battle of Cedar Creek and the small print were starting to get to me (remember I’m drugged up as well), and my eyes began to close, but I bucked up, downed more of my latte, and charged back into the Confederate strategy of that mid-October battle.  And then....




This lucky guy here at least had his left arm to support his tired little head.  Me? When the brain had decided to go to neutral, it forgot (it does that a lot now) to pay attention to the update from the Hands department, that they had an opened hook in the right hand, and the left held the coffee cup.

So my body started to fall into a peaceful nap, but full hands and an empty lap, and MS, as many of you can attest, loves moments like this….



The dreaded full body spasm!  My muscles went all which way.
 


And, a second or two later the result…..



Dropped book and… (sigh)



and all eyes

                                                         


were on me. I quietly picked up my book, cleaned the coffee up as well as I could (what’s another stain on that rug?) and retreated to my chair.  The eyes returned to what ever they were doing before I spazzed, but not without occasional glances my way.

See, this is where being sick has even more challenges because you wonder if you should try to explain why all your muscles all began going in opposite directions.  But unless you’ve got a plague like MS or  one of the other nuero ailments, folks will just say “That’s a weird thing ya just done, splattering your coffee and your reading material there. Arms and legs flinging all over. Funny. Still, you’re looking great!” and move on.

These muscle spasms are also night visitors.  Their favorite time is after you’ve snuggled into your bed and are starting that lull into a relaxed thought, the last time for me as I was thinking about crossing a street.  My right shoe stepped down from a cement sidewalk to a cobblestone street.  The “thought me” said “I better move my left foot over or I might tumble over -





Under the sheets my arms and legs splayed out, my eyes bulged open, and I breathed quick. I knew the score. MS 1, Tom 0.  I was now wide awake, and shuffled down to the den and read for about two hours.  Maybe I should have read that Civil War book again.

At www.livescience.com, there is a good definition for this uh, thing:

A hypnagogic jerk is an involuntary muscle spasm that occurs as a person is drifting off to sleep. The phenomenon is so named in reference to the hypnogogic state — the transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. Hypnagogic jerks are also commonly known as hypnic jerks or sleep starts.

Is it really just an MS thing? No. But we, or I do, also have my legs numbing up so I’ve got a real careful moment when I get up sa-low-lee.  The bedroom is dark (though, having other brain problems, I see flowers and lace and swirling leaves, all white, but that’s another blog) and Jackie has not woken or even moved in our bed.  Anyway, start with livescience.com and Google around.

One memory still clear in me is seeing my father sitting in our kitchen watching the small TV we had there in the late seventies.  He would watch for hours, breaking only to doze off, have his head start to sag to his chest, eye lids closing and then his body would spazz.  He’d look around and then turn his watery blue eyes back to the TV.  I was concerned, and slightly scared then, because, well, that it could happen to me, and as I researched MS I saw spazzing would be part of what this is drudgery.  And it is.  He had no idea what this thing was.  I know what this thing is and what it is doing and will continue to do to me. Which is better?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Silent Night

2 am now on an early Christmas morning, and I'm sitting in the den watching Dirk Gently's holistic detective agency on BBCAmerica.  Jackie dozed off about 90 minutes ago, and the visions of soap operas are no doubt dancing in my little sweetie's head.

Our first Holiday Time in the new place and we've decorated some, tree decorated but in minimalist fashion, that is, there are boxes of Hallmark ornaments sitting in storage lockers wondering if they will have another hanger placed in the Golden Orifice on their top or middle section.  Boxes.  But it is still nice...





A quiet ride out and back from Syracuse, Jackie now does 67% of the driving on longer trips, I do the rest (like driving in Boston).  I can keep focused by watching the white lines on the room and having the radio or a CD playing.  I can't focus all that well anymore, something you might have surmised, but if there are tunes going (when driving Jackie's car the choice of music is normally country music or oldies. I prefer the latter. In my car oldies or classical goes unless I'm solo, then its books on tape). 

So what I am saying is we have taken more slow steps to Our New Normal seeing what works and what may be slipping, like cups, bottles, small tools, pens, small paperback books, pickles, bath soap, small frogs, those sort of things.  Mood changes grow, true, when we're driving, er, when I'm driving, and my wife, concerned as she is for her own safety as well as mine, rides shotgun, making sure I have seen what she hopes I have seen.  Maybe yes, maybe no.

So the 60th Christmas of my life (and the whatever of yours) passes quietly.  

One week left to the year, and as we approach the non-holiday of New Years, and the upcoming trump administration, I hope things go well (for us and you), and if they don't, well, don't you be annoying the members of AARP,  Donny boy.  You are not the only one with hair of blond, and face color of not of human birth.  We're old (some not as old as you) and we want our early bird specials, coupons for the movies, and our TV shows.  We're the baby Boomers and we've done all we could.  Now let somebody else clean up our mess.

Last note for the year.  I do not know how or why these stories have suddenly found or deserved a 30000+ hits scale.  But thank you anyway.

Oh, Bubble Santa says Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Third Best Fall

We've been in our condo now for 7 months, and during that time I have fallen once, that I will admit to.   For some reason known only to it, MS has a ball pestering my left big toe, and it hurts something fierce.  I was at my local physical therapy pool ( from our new location everything is 5 minutes away) and the toe just pounded. After sitting in the hot boiling water four about seven minutes so that I could de-numb the body.  Then I did my exercises as well as I could, except for the one where I stretch my toes, and stepped away from the pool.  I had my usual walmart flip flops waiting for near me my towel and the door.  I opted not to use the flip flops due tp the agony of the Toe.  So I hobbled into the men's changing room.  Now I am usually the last guy in there for the pool day, which meant it had been waiting for me for a long time.  Bright lights greet me as I step into Sanitary Land. I take two steps toward my locker, my right foot finds the only bit of water still on the floor from every other guy of day.  Boom, out go both legs and I hear that cry from my brain that is never good - Oh, no I gonna die right now!

Did I mention the coffee?  In my right hand was a Dunkin Donuts Iced Dark Roast - large size.  I picked up a hot or cold coffee to sip in my "Don't Move Anything!" rest stops in the pool. Anyway, the coffee went first, then me. I think I yelled out "Not the co-" and then hit the floor, and my head. And since I was the only person in the room I could have said a lot more things that no one heard.  I took a few breaths and checked that everything was in working order, and slowly rose, despite the personal alarms going in various parts ofund the damage my person.  My first full idea was clean the floor, then 2) grab towels covering it and me, 3) clean both the floor, the walls, and my sports bag.  These could be done sitting down.  Getting up, well, that was a bit of a chore, and dressing was slow.  Finally I crawled   up and out the door, sans coffee and some dignity.  Should I tell the front desk folks? Nah, just wanted to get home.

When I got home I found out the damage was my arm gashed and and the back of my head was dripping off.  After some first aid, my wife asked me if I wanted to go see if I had a concussion.  But really, when you've got PPMS, how could you tell?

Look, the concussion symptoms -

Headaches or neck pain that do not go away
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
Getting lost or easily confused
Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation
Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance

PPMS Everyday, baby!  So I grew my hair out to cover the head mess, and today spent three hours with razors and my wife getting the hair back off.  So I look more like me.  And no more falls.  As far I know.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

May 11, 2016 Ch...ch...ch....changes

So, here we are at our condominium in suburbia gone mad Clifton Park, and, should you not be aware of this town’s existence or just think its a name on a Northway (I-87) sign before you arrive at the more “fun” exits to Saratoga and Lake George, well, let the town website fill you in…

“Clifton Park NY is located in Saratoga County, about a dozen miles north of the Capital City of Albany and just south of Saratoga Springs, NY. Communities in Clifton Park include Ballston Lake, Elnora, Flagler Corners, and Grooms Corners,RexfordRound Lake, Ushers and Vischer Ferry, lending a small-town charm to its appeal as a growing locale! “


Now how can you not like a place that has a Flagler Corners?

My wife Jackie and her family had lived in Clifton Park since the early 1960s in a two story house off what became Exit Eight of the Northway.  The house is still there, but only Jackie and her sister are left to tell the stories.  Well, me too.

We spent 27 years at our home in Malta, the townhouse we thought of as our “starter” home.  Apparently the “starter” part was misconstrued by us. Until MS reared its extremely ugly head about 5 years ago.  And the ugly head said (please use a Schwarzeneggar voice here) “Move from here, if you want to live!”

So we did.

The story begins on a cold December afternoon.  Jackie was dashing out to retrieve the Times Union and mail from our roadside mailbox and noticed another piece of paper shoved to the side of the mailbox, doing its best to not be buffeted out of a safe hole by the wind that was chafing Jackie’s face as she stood there trying to grasp the sheet. After all, it might be a coupon! She’s good like that.

When we looked at the sheet, it just had a few words on it.

“Hi, I just sold the house down the street from you.  Please call me at XXX-XXXX if I can help you.”

It was signed “Gabrielle”.

Now in the 26 years we’d been living here, as I am sure many other suburban residents have found these advertisements in their mail, would toss them (or recycle) and think nothing more of it. That’s what we normally did.  But this one we kept, and now and then would reread it.  

I’m not sure what moment it was, but sometime in December 2015, one of us said (it was Jackie, of course) “It wouldn’t hurt to call and see, would it?” 

Me: “Grumble. Grumble, lawn mower, shoveling, buy more mulch, will hurt, mulch, grumble..”

Jackie: “I’ll send her an e-mail.  See what she has to say.”

She had  a lot to say. She toured the house, and gave us an idea of what 125 was worth.  Double what we paid for the house in the late 1980s.  That, and the fact that my body was spasming while we, actually just me, tried to understand all the legalities Gabrielle was taking us through.  The Basics: When you get a call from us that someone's coming to visit - Get Out! We were so grateful that Panera at Exit 12 opened, it became our second home.  None of us though we'd get much interest in January. Guess what? The showings began, and so did the offers:

1. He was a man just out of the service (vets are instant winners with us) and was getting a VA mortgage, had a good job, and everything looked good.  He came on his own one afternoon and I gave him the tour and answered non money questions, just more important ones like "How does this work?" He was happy, we were happy. Everyone was happy.  The guy lost his job the next day.  Nobody happy.

2. Next was a woman who was ready to offer full price and was ready to go.  Her father said no. End of that.

Nothing happened for a while, and we were getting the usual consolation s of homeowners everywhere.  "Don't worry.  My neighbor ***** had his house on sale since World War II.  Somebody bought it last year.  They gotta a real fixer upper.  Gotta get the squatters out, meth labs, you know, I think the second floor guest room has disappeared.  Ya open the door and there's nuthin' there. Swear ta God. Black as night, no stars.  If they can sell that place, you, my friend, got no worries. Any more beer?"

So we had the lull, that time where you don't what to do with house/yard because how long will you be there?  So you're like the shivering plants outside, knowing that the time for warmth will come, in the meantime just hunker down, and we'll get through.

We put a new granite top on our kitchen cabinets late in 2015, in time for the holidays, and we are still paying for it toda, thanks to Home Depot accounts.  But in case we would be there come Spring 2016 (we were) it would be nice. So began The Lull.  


We did others things, always looking at the phone coming in the house to  see if  there was a message, and began to rethink the whole thing

And then...one night the message light was blinking.  We both dashed to the phone.


Gabrielle had called. We had a buyer! Wow. We were glad to be selling our house to a vet and his family.  And we were glad that all these boxes already filled with books would end up someplace else. All we needed to do is get more boxes, and then more boxes, and maybe a few more.  Eventually we made paths through the piles of immovable heavy cardboard that maybe a Monster Truck could move, and we would now and then even meet up near the winter clothes box for a coffee, and figure out what we would do on the "Closing Day".  No worries. It's down the line.

And then it was here.