Friday, July 31, 2009
A Good Run
For sometime now I’ve noticed the mental decline of a good friend of mine. I will not identify him in this blog posting out of respect for his privacy but those who know me know who I am talking about.
Yesterday my friend called me and confirmed what I had suspected for a few years now, his mental decline. He said he had a brain scan and the doctor determined that he had “partial dementia.” The doctor also told him he had the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. I had also noticed that my friend’s right arm and hand had been twitching with increasing frequency.
Both my friend and I use the Veterans Administration facilities. When my friend first noticed his increasing memory loss and twitching of his right arm he brought it to the attention of the VA. They dismissed his concerns outright saying that his loss of memory was normal for a man of his age (early 70’s) and the twitching was “nothing.” I cannot be sure that this was actually what the VA told my friend since I wasn’t there when they told him because in the past he has gotten information confused. However, over the past few years his condition has steadily worsened so he decided to go to his private doctor. He didn’t have a private doctor until last year when urged him to sign up for Medicare Part B and to buy supplemental insurance (through AARP) because of my medical emergency which resulted in a $5,000 emergency room bill when I couldn’t make it to the nearest VA facility in Wilmington. At our age, the chances of another medical emergency were very likely so I decided not to take any chances and I signed up for both Medicare Part B and the supplemental insurance. I’m glad he took my advice or else he would not have got this accurate diagnosis of his condition.
His doctor told him that his Parkinson’s can be controlled by medication and he could also take medication to slow down the progress of his dementia. I wish my friend the best. I’ll always remember the times when we were both young and full of vigor and adventure. The times have changed, even for me.
Too many of my friends and former co-workers have developed medical problems and some have died. Sometimes I feel as if the world as I knew it is closing in around me. I am not writing this blog for sympathy but to acknowledge that my life is entering into a new phase. I notice that I am more forgetful these days. I also find that I need a nap almost every day, especially after work like I did today. I am thankful that I don’t have any serious medical conditions now but I know that it will eventually happen.
About fifteen years ago, my friend and I were sitting in his pickup truck on a cold and windy winter’s day in Rehoboth Beach discussing the loss of many of our mutual friends and acquaintances to the HIV-AIDS virus. At that time we realized our network of friends was changing and would never be the same. We both agreed if we died the next day, that we had a “good run.” Fortunately, neither one of us contracted the AIDS virus and went on to live many more years. However, the times seem to be catching up with us. But I will say now as I said then to my friend, whatever happens tomorrow we have no regrets. We have had a good run.
Note: The picture on this blog is of me (on the left) and my friend (on the right) at a 1979 Halloween celebration at the Venture Inn, a gay bar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.