Monday, September 17, 2018

Ring My Bell

Some of you may be too young to know this, but this is
Don Knotts. He played 'The Nervous Man' on the 
Steve Allen Show back in the 1950s. Sometimes
Mark reminds me of him.

Mark is a nervous type. He tends to panic easily, so sometimes I don't react as quickly as I should. On Saturday he kept complaining about a pain in his ear and that he was dizzy. Nothing new there, the dizzy part. Then late Saturday evening I heard him screaming about his face.
"What's happening? My face, something's wrong with my face!"
I took note of that and continued watching my movie on the television. He then came stumbling into the living room.
"Look at my face, my eye. It's drooping, I'm having a stroke."
I looked up at him and he was correct, he had a problem. So I gave him an aspirin.
"Do you want me to take you to the Emergency Room?" 
"I don't know, I'm dying...  "
Then I remembered that because Mark had been to the ER three times this year, they had me sign him up for home care. I looked in the folder they gave us to see what they wanted me to do, and it said to call the home care people first. So I did.
"I think Mark is having a stroke." I told them, and then I listed the symptoms. This was around 10:30PM. I was told that a nurse would call me back. I waited and at 11:30PM the nurse called. I explained what was happening. With a sigh, the nurse responded.
"Okay, I was just up there in that neighborhood. It will take me an hour and a half to get back up there. I'm in South Holland now."
So I waited. All this time Mark was in a panic.
"This is a stroke, I'm having a stroke. When will she be here? I'm going to die before she gets here."
One hour and a half later the phone rang.
"Are you here? I don't see anybody out there." I said, assuming it was the nurse.
"Umm.. no. Is this Mark? I'm in Libertyville. I'm the nurse."
"No, this is Alan. I thought you were in South Holland. I thought you said you'd be here by now."
The nurse on the phone seemed a bit confused, but assured me that she would be there in one hour. Now I was confused.
"But what happened to the nurse from South Holland?"
The nurse from Libertyville made up some story about the other nurse having another patient to visit, and then she hung up. Now another hour went by and Mark was babbling on and on about having a stroke. No matter what I told him, he was sure he was having a stroke. I could see he was using both arms, he was walking, and he was talking normal. The only thing odd was that the left side of his face looked like it was melting off the bone. Finally, at two in the morning, the nurse arrived causing the dogs to go crazy. I wrangled them into the kitchen and locked the gate. Scout continued to bark. Chandler went to sleep. After explaining to the nurse what the problem was, a stroke according to Mark, she informed us that she was not a doctor and couldn't diagnose him. This sent Mark into a tizzy.
"It's a stroke. I'm having a stroke. Look at me... Oh my god... It's a goddamned stroke!"
The nurse sat there and said nothing while Mark continued to scream at her. Finally I stepped in.
"Mark, you aren't having a stroke. Quit saying that word, stroke. Something is happening but it is not a stroke."
Everybody shut up for a moment. That's when I asked the nurse if it could be Bell's Palsy. I've known other people with that affliction and that is what it was looking like to me. The nurse, who I will call Clarice, looked surprised and then consulted with her smart phone. She quickly paged through Google and said, "Yes, it could be that."
Well for krissakes, I could have done that. I could be a Google nurse. So today Mark will call his doctor and I will call that healthcare at home place. The doctor will help Mark with his Bell's Palsy, and we will adjust the home healthcare thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Chandler's Alley

Yummy crab grass
Most evenings I take Chandler out for a little walk. Sometimes we walk around the block, and sometimes we go down the alley behind the houses on the other side of the street. It's Chandler's favorite alley. It is where he saw the rat run out from under the garage door. The garage door that he checks every time we walk past it. Last evening we walked down that alley, behind a couple of guys who were smoking pot. they were about twenty feet ahead of us, but the aroma hung in the air. I remember that smell, it brings back some old memories. Further down the alley is Chandler's favorite patch of crab grass. Apparently it is delicious because he drags me over to it every time so he can munch away. I keep expecting him to barf it back up, but he never does. I like roaming that alley myself. It gives me a different angle on my neighbors. One house has a cat that Chandler really wants to make friends with, but the cat says no. It seriously does not want to meet Chandler. So Chandler whimpers a little bit when he sees it, and then we walk on as the cat hisses goodbye. Chicago alleys are an interesting place to explore. You see the back side of the street and sometimes you come across things you never really want to see. Like the time I thought there was a dead body in the alley. He turned out to be not dead, dead, but dead drunk dead. So I kicked his foot, he stirred a bit, and then the guy who owned the house he was passed out behind yelled at him to get the hell out of there. Always something happening in Chandler's alley.

That's the garage where the rat lives, the one with the door open.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It's Not Funny

My sister Lisa was over on Sunday and we were all sitting out in the back yard when I started hacking up a bit of phlegm.
"I'm sorry, you'll find that as you grow older you start making noises and coughing things up." I told whoever was noticing. Lisa and my friend Dennis looked at me in disgust. Then Lisa chimed in.
"Oh my god, tell me about it. I remember Dad and his nasty handkerchief. He had that thing wadded up in his pocket and would pull it out no matter where he was."
I do remember Dad's handkerchief. He used to spit on it and wipe the dirt off our faces just before we would walk into church. Another good reason for me to hate religion. Lisa continued.
"He would blow his nose into that thing, cough into it, and then stick it right back in his pocket."
Dennis nodded his head in agreement. That's when I reached into my pocket and pulled out a hanky. I proudly waved it in front of everybody.
"Why don't you just use a tissue like decent people do?" Asked Dennis.
Why indeed? I'll tell you why. Tissues are more disgusting than a hanky, and less sanitary in the wrong hands. Take Mark for example. He buys tissues by the case and goes through a box every day or so. Worst of all, he leaves the used tissues laying all around the house for me to.... gack... pick up. I say that the cotton handkerchief is much more sanitary. If I do blow my nose into it, I wad the used portion up within the middle of the hanky before returning it to my pocket. At the first opportunity, I throw that one into the laundry and grab another clean one. Besides, even if I have contaminated the hanky with germs, they are my germs. Although, you might think twice about shaking my hand.

So here are the facts. “At least 17 trees will have to be cut down and 20,000 gallons of water is contaminated in order to produce a ton of tissue paper” ( Cotton, of course, also uses up water. From growing it to manufacturing the cotton hankies that I prefer, a lot of water is used. Even washing my snot soiled handkerchiefs uses up water. But there is one thing that makes my hankies much more desirable and ecologically sound than Mark's boxes of tissues. I don't leave my used hankies strewn all over the goddamned house.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Stephen Explores Chicago, or How GPS Amost Killed a Good Friend

Map showing homicide hot spots
I delivered pizza in Chicago back in 1970. I drove a delivery truck in Chicago for five years. I drove a taxi cab in Chicago for three years. When it comes to knowing my way around this city, I know as much as anybody.

On Wednesday our friend from Indianapolis, Stephen, texted me and said that he was returning from Wisconsin to Indianapolis. He told me that he'd like to drop by for a quick visit. I love hanging out with Stephen, and I immediately told him, "Yes, drop on in, we'd love to see you." He texted back that he was at the Mars Cheese Castle (A famous tourist attraction in Wisconsin). I texted back to him the best way to get to our house. I gave him our address, and told him to take Interstate 94, the Edens Expressway, to the Peterson Avenue exit and then go east. We are only two and a half miles from that exit. I then texted him that we'd see him in an hour, because that's how long it takes to drive from the Mars Cheese Castle to our house. As soon as I put the phone down I ran around the house and did the quickie clean up for unexpected company. Quick dusting, dog toys in the dog toy basket, new hand towel in the bathroom, and I picked up the tumbling dog hair from the floor with my bare hands (Bad move. I sneezed for an hour after that). Almost two hours after that text exchange, I got a phone call from Stephen.
"I'm here. Which house is yours?"
I looked out the window.
"I don't see any car out front."
"I had to park down the street. There were no spots near your house."
Odd, I thought, there was fifty feet of open curb in front of our house.
"Okay, I'm outside now. I don't see you. Are you sure you are on our street?"
I repeated our address to him.
"Yes, I'm a few houses down from you walking towards your address."
"I'm standing in front of our house. I don't see anybody walking on the sidewalk towards our house. Are you absolutely sure you are on our street?"
"The GPS says that this is your street, that this is your address. I trust the GPS completely. I'm in front of 5939 right now."
"Well if you are, you are a ghost."
Stephen continued walking, apparently right through me, and got to the corner. As he walked there I asked him, "Did you get off at the Peterson Avenue exit?"
"No, the GPS said to get off at Garfield Boulevard. Okay, I'm at the corner. The sign says 60th Street..."
"Ahhhhh.... get out of there! Right now, get back in your car and get the hell out of there!!!"
I could not stress enough how dangerous it might be for a slightly built white guy from Indianapolis to be walking through one of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago. You see, Stephen had put 'South' into his GPS instead of 'North'. Unfortunately, Chicago is a very segregated city, and Stephen had been strolling through 'The Hood'.
"It looks like a very nice street. I don't think it's dangerous."
"Seriously, I cannot be any more serious. Get back in your car and get the hell out of there. Don't stop to chat with anybody, don't make eye contact with anybody, just drive!!!"
When you hear about all the shootings and gang violence in Chicago, that is where Stephen was. Up here, where Mark and I live, it is peaceful. In fact the police refer to our little neighborhood as "Mayberry".

I did check with Stephen in the morning and he did make it back to Indianapolis. We made plans to get together again in October because turning around and coming back up to the north side would have got him home very late into the night. All I can say is, do not turn on the goddamned GPS machine. It will kill you. And never, ever doubt the instructions of a Chicago cabbie when it comes to directions.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Shopping Part Two

Re-creation. I'm too timid to actually pull out the camera and take somebody's photo.
I hate shopping. However, Mark had sent me grocery shopping on Labor Day. We were needing a few things and I figured the store wouldn't be so busy on a holiday. It was busy, very busy. So there I am wandering the aisles of the Jewel Store with Mark's grocery list in my hand. Should be easy, he gave me a list. Problem was that Mark didn't group the items he wanted by aisle. That's how any sane person would do it. Instead I was wandering back and forth across the vast store looking for paper towels, then T-bone steaks, and then over to the pork and beans aisle. Near the end of the list, when I was in the ice cream aisle, I realized that I had to go back and get tomatoes which were way back on the other side of the store. Oh, and I forgot to mention that almost every other item on the list, I had to call Mark and ask him to explain his writing. He writes in a code of some sort that I'm expected to decipher.
Ice cream marshmallow
Soda 4 10
Never heard of marshmallow ice cream. What kind of cheese? And what the hell is 4 10 soda? Anyway, on my way back over to the produce department to buy the tomatoes, I witnessed a very large man with a beard at the kosher meat counter. A big manly, man, with that fake dyed red hair that is popular on Judge Judy litigants. He was wearing sequined construction boots and a dress. Just out there, doing his shopping in his best get up, not giving a damn what anybody thought. He made my day.