Wednesday, July 21, 2021

"It's Hot!"

Bill eating his hot oatmeal



 "It's hot!" That's what I say twice a day when I serve Bill his twice daily meal of oatmeal. 

Originally I said "It's hot!" to give him a warning that the bowl of oatmeal was micro wave oven hot. Bill began repeating "It's hot!" as I placed the bowl of hot oatmeal in his lap. I repeat "It's hot!" and Bill repeats "It's hot!" We both know this is a little bit of levity at this time of our life when we both know Bill is fading. 

Bill doesn't want to leave me. He's tired and wants to die but he doesn't want to leave me. It's a conundrum. 

I keep telling myself "He's not in pain and he knows who I am." And those two facts are so important at this time of our life, watching Bill slowly die. 

We're all going to die of course, but Bill is nearer to death now. 

Bill sleeps most of the day. Any activity exhausts him. 

His blood pressure is constantly low. 

He is losing weight.

His speech is almost unintelligible. 

His vision is almost totally gone. He only sees me as a shadow. 

Bill is still able to walk up the stairs from his basement bedroom and bathroom. However, it is getting harder and harder for him to climb those thirteen steps. He so loves his bedroom and privacy. 

Our hospice service says they will provide a hospital bed for him upstairs but Bill would rather stay in his basement bedroom. We will do that as long as he can climb those stairs. I'm not sure what I'll do if he can't climb those stairs anymore. Stay downstairs and never see the light of day again? I don't think so. I think that hospice supplied hospital bed might me in our future. 

We both agree that if he peacefully passes away in his sleep, that is the best solution.  

We all have to go sometime and yes, passing away peacefully in our sleep is the best exit. That's my wish for me. I would not want to go the way Bill is going now. Eyesight failing, profound hearing loss, (although his near hearing aids help), and exhaustion. 

Again and I can't repeat this enough, he knows who I am and is not in pain. That's what we'll go with now and for which I am so thankful.


Bill at one of his rare times of getting out of our car. Yesterday at Ace Hardware, but he was so exhausted me had to sop and rest on that grill.




Thursday, July 15, 2021

Palm Springs February 12, 2020


One of my favorite places in the whole wide world is Palm Springs, California. 

I discovered Palm Springs by a casual suggestion from Pat's friend Nadege a few years ago when Pat and I were in West Hollywood for our annual wintertime California holiday. She knew Pat was interested in Mid Century Modernism design and told Pat that Palm Springs had an annual two week event celebrating that very Mid Century Modernism.

With that suggestion Pat and I took a one day flyer to Palm Springs out of our two week Los Angeles (West Hollywood) stay. That's all it took folks. 

As we entered Palm Springs through the highway lined with hundreds of solar powered windmills, we sensed we were entering some place very special. Thus began an annual tradition, one week in West Hollywood and one week in Palm Springs.

However, that still wasn't enough. For the last two years we've been spending TWO WEEKS in Palm Springs. And that folks, still isn't enough but for now it will have to do.

This video was taken just as COVID was beginning its deathly march across the United States and the world. Little did we know at this time we wouldn't  be back to Palm Springs in 2021. 

I'm hoping that we can return to Palm Springs in 2022. But that may not be possible either now that I am a full-time caregiver. Bill needs me for everything. Feeding, showering, dressing, pill taking, and monitoring that he doesn't fall. Everything. I cannot leave him at all. 

Looking at this video brings back fond memories of our last time in that paradise right here on earth that is called Palm Springs, California. 

I shall return (I hope).

Friday, July 09, 2021

Tornado Alert!

 



Last night we had yet another tornado watch here where we live in southern coastal Delaware. I'm losing count of these tornado watches. What? We live in Tornado Alley? 

The latest tornado watch was last night or early this morning from twelve midnight until 12:30 AM this morning. My iPhone was beeping with the warning "GO TO THE BASEMENT!"  Oh yes, I'm going to run down to the basement right now and cower in the corner amount those crates of things I have yet to unpack from our move from Pennsylvania fifteen years ago.  Yes, FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. 

A couple of years ago we did have a "tornado" or a water sprout whirlwind travel through out backyard that took out a two of the major branches of one of my favorite river birch trees. That tree is still trying to recover. 

After that water sprout left our back yard it took out my neighbor's apple tree and a portion of the next neighbor's PVC fence. A few feet closer and that force of nature would have ripped right through my bedroom. Lucked out that time. 

Washington state and Oregon are sweltering under previously unheard of triple degree temperatures. A town in Canada burned down from the extreme heat. Ninety degree heat seems to be the norm these days.

I managed to mow the grass this morning before the heat of high noon but my T-shirt was still soaked with my sweat just from riding around on our John Deere zero degree turn tractor. I hate peeling of a sweat soaked T-shirt to take a shower. But oh that shower feels so good. 

Right now I'm waiting for the late afternoon temperature to get below eighty degrees so I can rake up the dead grass. I like that exercise of raking up grass but not in that heat. 

Global warming folks, global warming. Not a hoax.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Thoughts On A Hot Summer Day

 



Here we are, sweltering in another summer heat wave. 

After doing some yard work this morning I couldn't take anymore. I had to come in before I passed out. I just can't work in this heat and humidity. 

I had to take a shower when I came in from the open oven door that is our outside now. 

Two days ago we almost had a medical emergency with Bill. He takes a walk or two every day.  He took his walk in the 92 degree heat and almost didn't make it back. I took his blood pressure when he came in the cool climes of our air conditioned love nest. His blood pressure was very low, very low. 88 over 50. Needless to say, no more walks on very hot and humid days.

These days, at the end of the day I'm exhausted. Bill is still working on his "projects" (he can't help himself). His latest is security our deck canopy against gusts of wind. This is very hard for Bill to do because of his eyesight. He just can't see. But he insists he's doing this "for me." I'm resigned to the fact that Bill will always have his projects until the day he dies. That's just him. In the evening when Bill goes to bed at dark, I have a few hours to myself. Only problem now is I just can't stay awake. Last night I feel asleep again while watching one of my previously recorded "Dateline" murder mysteries. I'll have to watch it again during the day when I don't fall asleep.

Yesterday I made a batch of my personal potato salad recipe. I've developed this recipe over the years from trial and error. I LOVE this cold potato salad on these brutally hot and humid summer days. 

My eating habits have changed since caring for Bill. I did lose about fifteen pounds. Pounds which I've been trying to lose for years but now I've accomplished that. Still have my little pot belly though. I'll have that with me until I check out of this life. I've resigned myself to that fact. 

Now what I eat is Beyond Burger. I LOVE that "hamburger." I load it down with condiments like lettuce and tomato, a slice of red onion, three dill pickles, two melted slices of sharp cheddar cheese and a swirl (or two) or French's mustard all served on a Hawaiian sweet hamburger roll. Veggie of choice is local white corn sliced off the cob (I don't like to munch corn on the cob, did when I was a kid but not now). That's my meal at night, occasionally alternated with Royal Farm spicy chicken tenders with their fries and biscuits. Veggie for that meal is a Greek salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato, feta cheese and Wishbone Greek dressing. That's it folks, I'm just like Anderson Cooper and many others, I eat the same food all time. Bill has really downsized his eating. He eats oatmeal in the morning and oatmeal at dinner. Lately I've been making watermelon puree juice for him. He also likes Belgian waffle anise cookies. That's what these two old men eat these days. 

Weekly Bill's hospice nurse visits and checks on Bill. Tomorrow is her visiting day. We have our routine now. Now if we can just get a break from his heat.




Saturday, July 03, 2021

Ron and Bill's 57th Anniversary

 

Bill and me 1964 at his Pennsauken apartment

Yes, today is our 57th anniversary. Fifty-seven years ago this evening I walked over to thank the anonymous gentleman who was sending me drinks across the bar for the previous three months. 

The location was the corner of 15th and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia, PA. The place was the Westbury Bar, my gay bar of choice in those furtive days of 1964, way before Stonewall liberation. 

I've recounted this story many times before on this sixteen year old blog so I'll try and make it a little different this time, and shorten it. 

The previous year I had got out of the Army after a three year enlistment. I would have made the Army a career for twenty and possibly thirty years but because I was a HOMOSEXUAL, that was not allowed. I barely got out of the Army with an honorable discharge anyway because I was station at Ft. Meade, Maryland and the National Security Agency. I didn't ask for that job but that was the job that was assigned to me after I finished six month of Army Security Agency training at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. To work at NSA one had to have a top secret clearance and being a HOMOSEXUAL would definitely disqualify me from serving HONORABLY. By the way, this whole thing about not having gays in the military (we weren't called "gay" back then by the way, HOMOSEXUAL was about the nicest term. I don't have to recite the other terms but we all know what they were - and still are to this day.

Anyway, to make a long story short (and not get caught up on that injustice), I departed the Army in January of 1963 and came out totally three moths later in April when my Mother caught me with my boyfriend of the moment in my apartment during a surprise Saturday morning visit.

From April 1963 to July 1964 I would make almost weekly treks to Philadelphia with friends to the Westbury Bar, in search of Mr. Wonderful, Prince Charming, The Love of My Life, etc.

I lived in a furnished one bedroom apartment in Coatesville, Pennsylvania; a steel town suburb forty-three miles west of downtown Philadelphia. 

I was poor. I barely had enough month to "go into town." At that time drinks at the bar were .75 cents. I always gave a dollar, a twenty-five cent tip. That was understood. 

I always took three one dollar bills in with me to the bar when I visited The Westbury with my friends Ron (yes, another "Ron" and Ed. Both of whom have since departed this earth). 

I didn't have a car but both Ron and Ed had cars. They would take turns hauling me in with them. I guess I was good company (I hope).

One Saturday evening while Ron, Ed and I were engaged in some gossipy conversation (as was our wont) at our usual corner of the bar, Jerry the Bartender tapped me on the back of my hand that was on the bar to get my attention. He had a fresh glass of gin and tonic (my poison of choice at that tender age) and indicated by nodding his head in the opposite direction to a smiling black haired older man on the other side of the bar, near the skeet ball machine. He said that gentleman was sending me a complimentary drink. "Oh no" I thought. I had seen that "gentleman" often in the bar playing skeet ball with his friends, they were quite boisterous at times. Oh sure, he was good-looking and popular but not really "my type" (I prefer slight, nerdy guys with glasses). This gentleman was athletic, classically handsome and popular and older. NOT what I was looking for in Prince Charming. I nodded my head in acknowledgment towards his direction and resumed my conversation with my friends Ron and Ed. I said something like "Can you believe that? He thinks all he has to do is buy me a drink and I'll go home with him! NOT GOING TO HAPPEN." 

Of course I took the drink, it was free and I was poor. And if this person wanted to send me a drink that was just fine with me but there was no way I was going to be just another notch on his gun (no pun intended).

Thus began a regular ritual that every time he was in the bar he would send me a drink. I would acknowledge his generosity then resume my air headed conversations with my friends Ron and Ed. And yes, those conversations were of no substance believe me. This was when I was very young (twenty-two) and all caught up in the new freedom of Gaydom and a Place Of Our Own To Be Ourselves. 

My friends would often say "Why don't you go home with him? I would! He's good-looking!" But no, I had absolutely no intention of EVER going home with THAT GUY. Harumph! He thinks he can "buy my" with a drink? Besides, he wasn't "my type." 

Then can July 3rd, 1964. Again, I was driven to Philadelphia by Ron and Ed (I forget whose car, probably Ed's). They had someplace else to go and left me at the bar. It was early Saturday evening, maybe about ten o'clock. Well, maybe that doesn't sound "early" but for gay bars at that time the real action didn't start until eleven or later. That's when everyone made their entrances, all carefully dressed to attract the most attention from the same sex in the bar that night.

I was standing at our usual spot, the far corner of the bar, deep in my thoughts. By this time I had gotten to know Jerry The Bartender pretty well. In fact I had a crush on him (who doesn't get crushes on the bartender?) but Jerry, while always pleasant, never gave me any indication of a mutual interest in me. Then came The Drink. Jerry pushed the glass of gin and tonic in front of me as he had so often the past three of so months.  He didn't even have to say anything. He just smiled. I knew who sent the drink. 

I looked across the bar towards the skeet ball machine where The Gentleman Who Sends Me The Drinks usually was stationed with his friends playing skeet ball. There was no one there. Jerry saw me looking and he nodded his head to the gentleman sitting at one of the tables to the left of the jukebox. 

Tables you say? Yes, back then there was a smattering of low, round tables with one of those cheap netted glass bowls that held a flickering candle. 

I looked towards the direction to where Jerry nodded. There HE WAS. Sitting by himself. I never saw him sitting by himself before. He was always with his posse of friends. 

There weren't too many people in the bar. I nodded to him in acknowledgment of the drink he sent to me. He must have send me a couple dozen drinks over the previous three months. 

So there we were. Him sitting by himself at that low table with the candle flickering in that cheap Italian restaurant candle holder. I'm standing at the corner of the bar, BY MYSELF.

I thought to myself, because I was feeling a little bit guilty of accepting ALL THOSE DRINKS, I would at least thank him. And that's what I decided to do.

I left my coveted spot on the corner of the bar (one had to stake out coveted spots in gay bars in those days) and walked over to his table. I wanted to thank him for the drinks and nothing else. I swear NOTHING ELSE. I certainly had no intention of going home with him THAT night. I just wanted to be decent and thank him for all the drinks he had sent over to me the previous three or so months. 

Now, I was fully prepared to an exit. I expected him to put a LOT OF PRESSURE on me to go home with him because he had bought me all those drinks. I had an exit plan. I was going to thank him and walk out of the bar to the gay bar across the street, The Allegro (no longer there by the day, now it's the Kimmel Music Center). 

I walk over to him sitting at the table; and still standing I looked down at him and said "Thank you for the drinks and all the other drinks you have sent to me." He looked up at me, smiled and said "You're welcome." And that was it. No jumping on me with heavy, desperate, aggressive behavior as I expected. I had often experience that behavior from other men who tried to pick me up, sometimes with a complimentary drink (they think they own you then) or just trapping me in the corner of the bar (which happened a few times too, I literally had to get rude and bust out of being physically blocked from walking around the bar). Yes Virginia, this was what it was like back in the Bad Old Days when gay bars were routinely raided around election time. When one feared being "outed" by having one's name in the paper for being arrested during one of those raids. This was even before disco came to gay bars and straights found out gay bars were a cool place to dance. These were serious, cruising days folks. 

Well, I was a bit surprised by his gentleness and lack of aggressiveness. And to be quite frank about it, he wasn't at all as I expected. Oh sure, he still wasn't "my type" but he was handsome and masculine. Not a feminine bone in his body, which I found immediately attractive. In fact he had a deep masculine voice. I liked that. And his body, which of course I did a quick visual check, was ......nice. Hmmmm. 

Anyway, I decided to sit and talk awhile. He seemed like a nice guy and I found out he was a nice guy. And of course I went home with him that evening after he asked me if I "would like to stop over at his place for a drink." (standard operating line in a gay bar pickup folks, sorry I couldn't relate a more original pickup line). 

He lived in the opposite direction of Philadelphia, to the East. He lived in Pennsauken New Jersey which was across the Ben Franklin Bridge.Twelve miles to the east of Philadelphia. 

When he asked me over to his place I told him that I didn't have a ride home (I had been stranded before and wasn't about to be stranded again). He said he would take me home the next day. My apartment in Coatesville was fifty-six miles from his apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey. That impressed me. And I trusted him. By the way, I did finally "score" with Jerry the Bartender (before I met Bill) and HE STRANDED ME after we had our intimate encounter. I was left wandering the streets of center city Philly in the early morning hours of Sunday morning until I could catch the first train to Coatesville, and this after I had to wait until Jerry closed up the bar at 3:00 AM or so. I didn't like Jerry so much after then. HE was the scorekeeper and here I thought I was in love with him. Just goes to show you. Anyway, back to Bill.

I stayed that night with Bill at his two bedroom, garden apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey. And yes, I did have a drink. In his refrigerator he had just about every kind of juice drink you could imagine. No food, lots of juice drinks. Apparently I wasn't the first guy Bill took back to his apartment. Oh well.

Thus began my relationship with Bill. 

Over the next seven months Bill would pick me up at my apartment in Coatesville, which remember was FIFTY-SIX miles from his apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and take me back to his apartment for the weekend. We did that almost every weekend. Bill always had something planned for us to do. I liked him and he liked me. 

Then came a time he wanted me to move in with him. Initially I turned him down. I told him that he wasn't the person I was looking for.  I liked him but I didn't love him.  I told him it wouldn't be fair to him or me because if I moved in with him I would still be "going out", looking for Mr. Right. Without hesitation he said, "If you moved in with me you can still go out, just be discreet about it." He said "A caged bird never sings." And he would never want to "hold me back." He also said he traveled a lot (he worked for RCA then General Electric as an electronics technician) and would be gone for months at a time and I would have that time to myself to do whatever I wanted. 

I still hesitated because that wasn't my idea of a relationship. I had pictured meeting Prince Charming and living happily ever after, monogamous to one another. Not still hanging out at the bars looking for Mr. Perfect. 

Bill got angry. The first time in our relationship that I saw his anger. He said if I didn't move in with he I would never see him again. 

Now I had a real dilemma. I liked Bill, really did but I was just afraid of being trapped.  He insisted that I wouldn't be "trapped." He said "Do whatever you want to do just be with me."

And that my friends was the beginning of my life long love affair with Bill. 

During our fifty-seven years together I can remember at least a half a dozen times I was going to leave him for someone else (thank God I didn't do that). We've had our share of battles, all verbal. Nothing physical. If there was anything physical I would have been one the first times.

During our fifty-seven years together we've lived in two apartment, purchased one townhouse in center city Philly (all so I could walk to work and the gay bars, yes I continued to go to the gay bars on the weekends). We built two houses. One in Pennsylvania near my parents where we lived for twenty-five years until the high Pennsylvania school property tax forced us to me to the more tax friendly state of Delaware fifteen years ago, where we live now and where both of us will finish out our lives.

Bill worked until he was fifty-five years old at which time he took early retirement because his company wanted to send him to Africa for a year. At that time I was making enough money at the bank to support both of us so I urged him to take early retirement (which he got a lump sum payment) and stay at home with our Pomeranian dogs. Of course the best laid plans often go awry and a few years after that I lost my job at the bank (bank mergers) but I managed to keep us afloat with other jobs. Nimble Ron here. 

We have had an extraordinary life folks. I will always be so grateful that Bill send me those drinks and persisted until I finally gave in. By the way, he told me later "I knew I would always get you!"  I told him "If I knew that was your attitude I never would have come over and thank you for those drinks." 

 

Bill and me on our wedding Day July 3, 2013


But fate has been good to me folks. Even now as Bill is fading here from the after effects of his two strokes in January (he's on home hospice care). Bill may not be the strapping endless energy driven man that he was fifty-seven years ago when I first met him on that rainy Saturday night in July, but he still loves me in spite of all the aggravation I've caused him over the years. All the drama that I've had with affairs and my jobs, and through it all Bill has stuck with me. That's true love folks. 

I never thought I truly loved Bill until one of those times I was going to leave him for Another Man ("Harold" was his name, God I'm glad I didn't do that). When I informed Bill I was leaving our home and getting an apartment for me and "Harold" (God, I'm so glad I didn't), there were no histrionics from Bill. Just after I told him, he looked to the ground then up at me and said "Please don't leave me." This was after one of our big fights again folks. Every time I was going to leave him was after a fight. 

At that moment he looked up at me from his lowered eyes and said "Please don't leave me" in his lowered voice I realized at that time I LOVE THIS MAN. What was I thinking? How could I ever LEAVE him? If I did I would spend the rest of my life wondering about what happened to him. 

Over the years Bill had become so dependent on me. For one thing I couldn't imagine him living on his own. But more important I couldn't imagine my life without him in it. 

And that my friends is where we are today. I doubt this time next year we will together to celebrate fifty-eight years together. 

Bill is getting weaker every day. He needs me to feed, bath and dress him. His eyesight is gone, he can't read or do any of his projects of things that give him pleasure. He has profound hearing loss and has to wear a hearing aid which he can't even put in his ears now, I have to do it. His cognitive abilities are slipping, which is so said. It frustrates him that he doesn't know how to control the volume on his hearing aids, the heat control on his heating pad or even how to use the remote control for the over head fan. But he knows who I am and is not in physical pain. And that's what I keep telling myself. He knows who I am and he's not in physical pain.

I lavish him with attention every day. Even though his speech is slurred and I have a hard time understanding him, I sometimes have conversation with him about The Old Days. We can't talk about our dogs (total of five Pomeranians), too sad. 

These days Bill like to sit under the awning of our back deck. He goes out for a walk once or twice a day down to the cul de sac in our development. I take him out for a daily ride.

We've had a good life folks. He still have some time life. One day this will end and I will be sad beyond my comprehension. I had a preview of that feeling when I thought I had lost him after they had air lifted him by helicopter to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia for a week's stay in their ICU unit.  I thought I lost him and felt so devastated because I didn't even have a change to say "goodbye." But I've been given a reprieve. After a week's stay in Philadelphia and a two week stay in a rehab hospital, Bill has been at home with me. And now we are living the final chapter of our wonderful lives together. 

Oh how many times have I thank the Gods above that I went over to him that Saturday night fifty-seven years ago and said "Thank you for the drinks."


Bill and me this morning on our 57th Anniversary



Thursday, July 01, 2021

Ron Typing



Many years ago, in the Fifties, when I was a high school student I had extra class time.  I elected to take Study Hall class which was actually a waste of time, kids who took Study Hall just goofed around shooting spitballs and such. When my Mother found out I was taking Study Hall class for five periods a week she went ballistic. She said "You're not wasting your time taking Study Hall! You're going to learn a skill, you're taking Typing Class!" 

I didn't want to take Typing Class because back in the bad old straight-laced boring Eisenhower presidency days only girls and sissies took Typing. And I certainly wasn't a girl or a sissy even though I couldn't play ball (football or baseball) because I DID throw a ball like a girl. 

I resisted my Mother's demands, after all I had an image to protect (in my silly teenaged 16 year told head) and I JUST couldn't take Typing, what would my classmates think? I had a bad enough time keeping my eyes off of the boys and hiding my burgeoning homosexuality hormones, taking Typing class WITH THE GIRLS would only cement some of my classmate's suspicions that I was QUEER, a fate almost worst than death in the Fifties High School Days. 

However, after much pressure from my Mother I signed up for TWO years of Typing, which was really bold because NO GUY EVER TOOK TWO YEARS OF TYPING. What was next? Shorthand?

Thus I said "goodbye" to my Study Hall classes and signed up for Typing. Funny thing happened though, there were some other guys in the class. Butch guys, albeit just the first year of Typing. No one made fun of me. After awhile I forget about my apprehension about being one of the few guys in Typing class.

My first year of Typing I struggled. A few D's, then C's and I ended with a couple B's. Second year typing was altogether different. I ended up the Best Typist in my class, which was confirmed by a gold key chain award from Underwood Typing company.
I still have that award, my one claim to fame in this world in addition to being name Best Guest Service Representative (front desk clerk) for the Hampton Inn and winning a trip to Disney World in 2000. 

Over the years I have thank my late Mother many times for insisting that I not waste my time in a goofball Study Hall class and take "something you can use in future jobs." And indeed I have. Almost every job I've had since I graduated from high school I've typed. Much to my advantage because almost all of the other guys I've worked with use a one finger peck to type. They never learned the Home Keys typing. 

Thank you Mom for just one more thing you did to raise me that made me a better and self sufficient person.

Me and Mom 1941


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Bill Falls And Can't Get Up

 

Bill sitting out back under our shade tree late this afternoon, recovering from last night.


Last night, just as I was falling asleep at my normal time of 12:30 AM to 1 AM, Bill's medical alarm rang. He was having an emergency.

I rushed downstairs to his basement bedroom and sure enough, he was shaking all over. He didn't know how to stop and I didn't know what to do either. 

I called the 24/7 hospice nurse line which is what I was told to do if Bill had a medical emergency. No more calling 911 and a trip to the Emergency Room which just results in generating more bills and no resolution to Bill's medical problem which is just old age and he's wearing out. 

"Debbie", the sainted person on the other side of the line (who takes jobs like this anyway? I can't imagine) asked the routine questions which I won't go into here except "is he in pain?" (he wasn't). Then Bill had to go to the bathroom, immediately! We didn't quite make it, his pee was going down his leg then I heard the poop. Yep, he was pooping (shitting) his pants. What a mess.

I managed to get him to the bathroom and on the toilet, just. He had the biggest dump I've ever seen. Of course part of it was on the floor, toilet seat, down the right leg of his pants but most of it was in the toilet. I took a picture of it just to prove to his hospice nurse. Apparently Bill was constipated. We didn't know that. Maybe that's why he had the uncontrollable shakes. 

As I was getting him up off the toilet and into the nearby shower to wash him off (after pulling off his pants and underwear, couldn't get his shirt or T-shirt off so that went into the shower), Bill fell. He just missed the seat in the shower/tub enclosure. No pictures here but this is one of those cheap, one piece plastic builder grade showers. Thank goodness no tiles to clean after the poop mess. My brother was faced with that problem when he was taking care of our mother at the end of her life. It was messy too.

Bill fell in a crumpled corner on the floor of the shower. I couldn't get him up as much as I tried. When I thought I got him part way up (he was very weak) he slipped and fell again and this time part of him was wedged in between the base of the shower and his toilet with the metal grab bars. He hit is head (the bruise shows). I couldn't get him up. Tried for at least forty-five minutes. Then I called his hospice nurse again. I told her of the problem. She told me to call 911 and have some EMT's come out and pick him up and put him in his chair where he sleeps at night.

They were at our house within ten minutes (seemed less). Two burly guys who had no trouble extracting Bill from being wedged in between the base of his toilet and the shower base. They held him up while I washed off the now dried encrusted feces (shit) from his right leg and his butt. Then they took him into his bedroom. They were very gentle and spoke soothing words to him, which greatly impressed me. Two big burly guys so gentle. They held him while I put on a Depends underwear, which is what Bill is going to wear from now on. I also put on his jogging pants that I bought initially for him when he returned home from the rehab after his hospital stay in January. No more regular underwear for Bill nor his usual Levi jeans, too much trouble to clean. They settled him in his chair while I gathered up all the soiled garments. I rinsed out his underwear in the toilet (something I quickly learned to do from previous "accidents"). One thing that I learned is true what my friend Glenn told me (he was his partner/husband's longtime caregiver), you quickly get over the "shit" part of caregiving. Not so squeamish anymore, just do what you have to do.

After rinsing off his underwear, I put all into the washing machine and turned on the extra rinse cycle. Been there, done this before too. 

By  the time the EMT guys left, daylight was dawning. I had been up all night as was Bill. That's right, no sleep all night. Last time I did that was when I was a night auditor at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania in t he year 2000. I was alert but felt out of body at time. I've been running on fumes all day.

My big fear was that Bill wouldn't be able to walk. What would I do now? His hospice care worker was coming over today at 8:00 AM to check on him, special trip after last night's call. I had about an hour to sleep. I also had a weekly Zoom call scheduled at 10:00 AM with my friends Stuart, Lar, Pat and myself. Today was Lar's birthday so we didn't want to miss that. Lar is my friend who has ALS (diagnosed four years ago). And yes, he has his bathroom issues too and his fall down issues (his family has had to call the EMT's to get him up off the floor on occasion). 

I laid down on my bed and quickly fell asleep. I had asked Alexa to wake me up at fifteen minutes to eight. When she did I heard movement in the kitchen. I rounded the corner from my bedroom (which is right next to our kitchen) and there was Bill, walking albeit slowly and unsteady. He refuses to use a cane for walker (which the EMT guys told me he should use). Thank goodness he was walking! I can't tell you how relieved I was.

"Abby", the hospice care worker arrived about 8:30 AM. She took Bill's blood pressure and it was normal. I told her what happened and she surmised that Bill suffered an anxiety attack, which makes sense. Bill is so worried about leaving me (dying) but he is tired and because he can no longer read or do his projects because of his eyesight and his other problems, he's in a quandary. I told him so often that I can take care of myself but after fifty-seven years it's hard for him to leave his responsibility to "take care of me." She advised him to try and think of nice things and not dwell on the negative, which Bill tends to do. 

Abby left after about an hour's visit. 

The rest of the day here was surreal, as it is when one doesn't sleep the previous night. And today was the day I had my landscaper Ferdinand trim my nineteen holly trees (at $700), which I don't know house much longer I'll have that job done. I'm tempted to just let those holly trees grown out. If I'm left here by myself I have to cut out expenses like this. Let our backyard go natural. 

After I finish this post I'm going to bed. Bill is sleeping peacefully now in his Archie Bunker chair. Hopefully we can both get through the night without any more emergencies. Neither one of us can endure many more nights like we had last night.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Ear Cancer Surgery Complete

 




Early this morning I arrived at my dermatologist's office to have my sutures removed. 


Looks like I have to seriously trim my ear hairs
Last week at this time my dermatologist cut out a part of the top my left ear and replaced it with a skin graft from my left jaw line. Sounds painful? It was.

All this week I had to be very careful with treating the wounds (the skin graft area plus the "donor" area). That was an especially challenging task given that I have to wash my hair (what's left of it anyway) with a tar based shampoo because I have seborrheic dermatitis my scalp. If I don't white scales (dandruff) produces quickly and my head is itching like crazy. Since I found a solution to my condition when I was in my early twenties, I haven't had dandruff since or an itchy head. I don't want to go back there. So it was quit a challenge to cover up my operated on ear with plastic so it wouldn't get wet when I shampooed my hair with my coal tar based shampoo (I smell like a railroad tie after I shampoo). 

I was eagerly looking forward to today because those stitches were starting to itch.

I thought this procedure this morning would be a quick nip and tuck to pull out those stitches. That didn't happen.

Seems where I had the skin graft the skin had grown over the sutures. The sutures still had to come out, and out she (the dermatologist's assistant) took them.

The whole procedure took about fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of torture. 

The dermatologist's assistant was very apologetic but it still hurt.  Finally, she got them all out. 

How would you like to have her job?

I'm home now, recovering. Whining and complaining but ready to start a new day.

By the way, Bill's doing fine. Weak but still with me.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Father's Day 2021

 

Pop making his favorite vegetable soup from veggies grown from his own garden - 1978 two years before his death. My father never had a gray hair on his head. White beard, yes but not one gray hair nor did any of his ten brothers.

My father ("Pop") died August 22, 2000. He was born April 18, 1920. 

He died of lung cancer. He was a life long smoker. On my birthday (November 9th), 1999 he had quadruple bypass heart surgery. That's when the doctor's discovered his lung cancer. They sewed him back up and sent him home.

The cancer had spread so much that they gave him six months to a year to live. He lived another eight months.

My father loved my Mother, even though he did cheat on her early in their marriage. But he knew he had a good thing with her and he corrected his bad habits. It was hard for him because he was very attractive to the ladies. They liked him and he liked them. All his life he continued to flirt to receptive women but I don't think anything ever came of it (consummated) after my Mother had a showdown with him early on in their marriage.

He had three children by my Mother. I am the oldest. My two younger brothers were born in 1943 and 1944 respectively. I was born in 1941. 

During the World War II my father failed his draft physical because he had brain damage from an accidental hatchet wound to his head when he was only ten years old. At that time his and his family of eight brothers (no sisters) lived in Hillbilly Heaven in Pigeon Roost, North Carolina. Someone was chopping wood and the hatchet handle came off and landed in my father's head. They rushed him by a horse pulled cart to nearby Johnson City, Tennessee hospital to try and save his life, which they did. Coincidentally some years later, when I was one year old I crawled out of a second floor window of the rental house we lived in and rolled down the front porch roof and landed on my head on the concrete sidewalk below. My Mother rushed my unconscious little baby body to the hospital, fearing the worst. Initially the doctor's were not hopeful but eventually I regained consciousness and here I am today to tell that tale. That was the first of my Nine Lives. Another coincidence, my good friend Pat also has a very noticeable scar on his head where he was also hit with an ax when he worked on a relative's farm in Canada when he was a teenager. And just one more coincidence, Bill (Kelly), my partner/husband of fifty-seven years has a dent in his skull where he was hit with rife butt during Army maneuvers when He was stationed in Germany in 1947. He said that's why he wore a toupee all his adult years, to hide that big dent. He doesn't wear a toupee now but the dent is very noticeable as is Pat's circular scar. So we all got a second chance at life. But I have veered off again from the main subject haven't I? I tend to do that.

Back to "Pop." My father didn't want children. He made that very clear during my lifetime. He especially didn't like me. Perhaps because I was closer to my Mother or perhaps because I was too "sissy" for him. But then he didn't like my brothers either. Although he did seem to favor the youngest ("the baby"). He showed more love to his dogs during his lifetime that he did to me and my brothers. I'll never forget that one Thanksgiving dinner, he put down is turkey laden fork, looked around the family dinner table and said "I have the dumbest bunch of kids."  Gee, thanks Pop. No surprise for us though, that was Pop. Nothing we did would please him. We all gave up a long time before that Thanksgiving dinner proclamation. 

Thus it  comes at no surprise that Father's Day was no big deal around our house. He was our father. Up until he was fifty-two years old he helped to support our family.  Initially in the marriage, (they were married in 1940), because he was rejected at his physical, he was required to be a cross country truck driver. He would be gone for weeks at a time. My Mother was left to fend for us kids (feed us). She lived in a small, no electricity, no running water, out door toilet, shack in the country.


My parents first home, a shack (no running water or electricity) in the country. Mineral Springs, PA. That's my Mother pregnant with me. 

She often told me the story that one day she was walking down the country road cradling my youngest brother (who was just a baby at that time), and hold me and my other brother's hand while she walked and walked as we were crying because we were hungry. She didn't know what to do. Of course welfare was out of the questions, "Nice people didn't do that" she said. he was too embarrassed to apply for welfare. Her Quaker family influence (grandparents on her Mother's side) no doubt. While she was walking that dirt road her father happened to drive by (he was a tomcat (married three times and like the ladies) and stopped. He saw she was distraught and gave her five dollars to buy some milk. That five dollars lasted her a while, five dollars back in 1944 was a lot of money.


Pop with his guitar in front of his early marriage hillbilly home in the Pennsylvania countryside. He LOVED his Packard!

When my father returned from his latest cross country trip delivered war vitals to their destinations, again was short on the money. My Mother found out later he was spending most of his money on other women during his travels. She gave him an ultimatum, she would take over the finances or she would leave him. My father wasn't the sharpest knife int he drawer but he did know he had a good thing with my Mother. He loved her and would never find anyone else who cared for him the way she did but she was willing to leave him. Thus he reformed his wastrel, irresponsible ways. But I've often thought, do I have any half sisters or brothers across the continental United States.  Might have, several of his brothers had children out of wedlock during their wander lust days. 

My Mother took over the full family financial when Pop "retired" at fifty-two (too "stressful" he said, his welding job).  She was the sole breadwinner in our family working at Pepperridge Farms frozen foods division for over twenty-five years. Pop just hung around with his friend Harry down the road from where we lived in our 1,100 square foot rancher (moved there in 1959, the year I graduated from high school). He occasionally did some house finishing work along with his buddy Harry (hanging doors and windows). He mainly liked to hunt, garden, smoke and eat fried, greasy foods while Mom ran the household. 


My father LOVED gardening. A trait I Inherited from him, I too love to garden. 

Early on in the marriage he used to beat me and my brothers but no more than the usual beatings that kids got in the late Forties and early Fifties from their father with a belt for misbehaving. At least he never beat us with the buckle and no serious damage was ever done.  Me and my brothers learned early on that if he hollered a lot when he was flaying his belt at us (I'll always remember him pulling his belt off in preparation for a beating) around at the three of us. Yes, we usually got beat together but I'm sure we got individual beatings too, I just don't remember that. When I would complain about the beatings, my Mother would refer us to the scars on my father's back from beatings he got as a kid from his father. And I guess she was right, it could have been a lot worse. It wasn't. And the beatings stopped as we entered our teenage years. The only incidence of his violence towards me was when I asked to borrow the family car for my Senior Prom and he refused.  I said something insulting to him (I don't remember but I was being disrespectful) and he punched me across the jaw, knocking me off balance and into the bathtub I was cleaning at the time. Yes, I was the house cleaner of our family, which I thought in my naive way would qualify me at least to borrow the family car for my prom date, which by the way I stood up for which I am to this day ashamed of. She (Vivian) took it was well as would could expect but I DIDN'T show up and she was waiting for me. What was I THINKING? Dumb kid. 

When my father punched me a good one across the jaw, it was in front of his brother. He was incensed because I disrespected him in front of his brother. I can understand that. But at the same time I made a vow to myself never to ask him for anything again and to leave home as soon as I could, which I did when I joined the Army after I graduated from high school. There was a six month delay there because I too failed my first Army physical (I was born with a hernia). I had to have an operation to remove the hernia before the Army would accept me. During my operation I developed a deadly case of staph infection which kept me in and out of the hospital for the next six months. But eventually the infection was cleared up after several surgeries and I joined the Army and broke the parental bind that I was under for the fist eighteen years of my life.

Except for one day when I returned home from Pittsburgh, where I had moved after I got out of the Army, I never lived at home again. That one day was a Friday through a Saturday. When I returned home by bus (he picked me up), I had no money and no job. I had a job in Pittsburgh but I was very lonely in Pittsburgh and was discouraged about the gay scene, which wasn't what I thought it was. I was looking for Prince Charming and all I was meeting was guys who wanted to get in my pants. I may be a lot of things but I'm no slut. Frankly, I didn't even know what the gay scene was about. This was the early Sixties after all. I wasn't a drag queen or a "queer" who hung around men's bathrooms. I knew I was different and I knew I liked men but I didn't know where to go from there. But this is just another branch of my sordid early life that I might get into in a future blog post should I live that long. Regular readers of my blog for all these years (since 2005) already know something to my Fantasy Ride Early Years Of Gayness For Ron.

Back to returning "home" from my doomed foray into Pittsburgh, that Friday night I went out with an old school chum, strictly straight and platonic. The next morning over his greasy fried eggs, bacon, scrapple and biscuits he asked "Where were you last night? I told him it was none of his business. He replied "As long as you live here it's my business." I immediately though "He's right! It is his business." That's when I decided then and there to move. As I said before I had no money so I called one of my brothers and borrowed money (I think $250) from him. Then I looked at the classified ads for a small efficiency furnished apartment. I found one ($65 a month) which I rented that day and the next day I was out of his house. I never lived there again in that small, stuccoed wall, eight foot high ceilings, one bathroom, ranch house of his again. I lived in that shabby, one bedroom furnished apartment for two and a half years (until I met Bill and moved in with him). He never visited me once. NOT.ONE.TIME.

Wherever you are Pop, happy Father's Day. I am who I am because of you, f-cked up and all, because of you. I even look like you now. And this year I will be the age (80) that you died. 

My father was twenty-one years old when I was born. My father has been dead twenty-one years. 

I saw him last time one day before he died on a Saturday night. He was in the hospital hooked up on morphine pain killers. No one else was in his room. They had left earlier in the late afternoon. The time I saw him was about eight o'clock in the evening. 

When he saw me come around the curtain (he was sharing his room with another patient, he was near the window, I could see the cars in the parking lot and the parking lot lights from his window). He asked me help him up so he could pee in his jug. Like me he can't pee lying down in a hospital bed. As I helped him back in his bed I said to his back "I love you Pop."  I don't know if I loved him but it seemed the appropriate thing to say. He said nothing to me. At least he wasn't angry at me. I think he was too preoccupied with is weakness and out of it from the morphine. 


My Mother hand feeding my father during his last days in the hospital suffering from terminal lung cancer

Monday morning as I unlocked the door to the small town bank where I worked at that time, I heard the phone ringing.  I knew what it was. I knew it. I quickly unlocked the door and rushed over to pick up the phone. It was Barbara, my sister-in-law (my youngest brother's wife).  She said "Ronnie, Pop died last night. Can you come home to be with Mom?"

I had the strangest reaction to this news. News that wasn't unexpected but still it was a shock to hear, that his man who had been so much a part of my life was no longer alive. I felt like someone gut punched me in the stomach. I didn't feel sadness, for which I was ashamed. Nor a sense of loss, just relief. I felt bad for my Mother though. All the years I knew them I never once heard him raise his voice to her or even argue with her.  He loved her. 


Yep, he loved her and she him

At his funeral, still no sense of loss. Not happy either, perhaps relieved, just different. 


My brothers and I say our final "Goodbye" to the man who produced up and was such a force in our lives. Yes, I am the smallest even though I'm the oldest. My second brother (the Middle One) is in the middle and named after my father (Isaac, Jr.) and my youngest brother John.

One thing my father did like about me, I attended as many of the funerals for his ten brothers as I could with him. That was one of the few times I saw him smile at me, when I would accompany him in my best dark suit. I remember one funeral for his brother Bruce, one of his cousins (Fred Byrd), who I had never met before in my life, came across the room and said "You must be Ike Tipton's son, you look just like him." I have to admit I was taken aback (I "look just like him?" What? I've turned into my father? I'm afraid I did.) Then I felt a tinge of pride, to be recognized by a cousin he grew up with (back in his hillbilly North Carolina mountain days) who would recognize me across a crowded room of family relatives and friends who had come to mourn another Tipton brother, who coincidentally was babysitting me when I fell off that roof and almost died. Bruce was just a teenager at that time. 

Well, that's enough of my Father's Day tribute to Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr. (we have the same middle name by the way). Hope you enjoyed reading this cathartic tome of mine. I tend to do that you know.

One of the few pictures I have of my with my father (my youngest brother John to my right). Photo taken about 1960 when I was home on leave from my three year Army stone.   Pop was holding's stomach in and I think I detect a faint smile. See it?



Friday, June 18, 2021

Cancer Surgery On Ear


Bandage ear after surgery to remove squamous basil cell carcinoma 

 Got up early this morning for my cancer removal surgery on my left ear. 

My appointment was at 6:30 AM.  I arrived at 6:00 AM and they took me right away.

The top part of my ear was removed. Squamous basil cell cancer. 

My doctor said he got it all.

The four needles to numb ear hurt. Initially I thought he was cutting me without anesthetic but he told me "No, these are the needles for the anesthetic."  He gave me five of them. Each one had a unique hurt.

Of course I felt nothing when he actually cut out the cancerous top part of my ear. But he cut so much he had to do a skin graft. He took off part of my lower ear and grafted it to the top. Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul but I didn't question him. I have to assume he knows what he's doing. 

As bad as  this was, I'm thankful it wasn't a more serious cancer like melanoma. I'm also thankful that I have medical coverage.

Oh if I could redo those foolish days of my youth when I would bake in the sun trying to get that perfect tan. That my friends is one (of many) regrets that I have in my long life. I'm paying the price now.

The results of another bloody visit to the doctor


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Groundhog Day-My daily Routine

 

My clock on my bed headboard - the time I see almost every morning when I wake up to start my day

Almost everyday I wake up at 6:50 AM. Not 7 AM or 6:30 AM but ten of seven. What's up with that?

I've never seen the movie "Ground Hog Day" but I've seen clips and I know the Bill Murray character wakes up to the same time every day.

It doesn't seem to matter what time I go to bed at night. Last night I was up latter than usual binge watching the latest season of "Better Call Saul." I didn't get to bed until about 1:30 AM. I usually go to bed between 11:30 to 12:00 midnight. 

I've never been a late riser. I am a midnight owl though, preferring to go to bed late. Bill likes to go to bed early, usually when the sun sets or when it gets dark. He also gets up early, earlier than me.

These days my usual routine when I get up at ten of seven is to do my bathroom absolution, including daily bowel movements (thank goodness). Back when I was young I was frequently constipated and sometimes when several days before I made that prolonged visit to The Throne. These days, in my dotage, a daily Visit in the morning is a requirement lest I have a very embarrassing accident. Next Friday I have an early morning appointment at my dermatologist (6:30 AM) which is a concern to me because that time is interfering with my daily bowel movement. Too much information? Yes.

These days in which I am a full-time caregiver is Ground Hog Day predictable. I get up at 6:50 AM. After my bathroom routine I go downstairs to Bill's bedroom where Bill is waiting for me. I wash his edema lower legs with Dial anti-bacterial soap. Every third day is Shower Day (which Bill hurts).

After washing Bill's lower legs and feet Bill and I go upstairs to the kitchen.  I give Bill his morning pills (he also have evening pills) with peach or watermelon juice (which he likes). Then I prepare his oatmeal breakfast.  I also prepare my breakfast of sliced strawberries with shredded wheat or Cherrios. I also drink a daily allotment of FiberBlend to keep my bowels moving as well as take my morning medications (I also have evening medications.)

While Bill is eating his oatmeal (he slurps it) I take my daily walk. When I return I have my breakfast and clean up after Bill's breakfast. 

This is the time of day (about 9:30 AM) I go into my home office (smallest bedroom in our house that I turned into a home office) and check my online Scrabble games (I usually have a dozen or so going with Pat and other Internet players) and my e-mails and, sometimes, update my blog as I am doing now.

I don't sit too long at my computer like I used to in the past because my left leg falls asleep (that's the leg I had injured). Almost every day I take Bill for his ride and at the same time shop at Food Lion, our local supermarket. Sometimes we stop at Ace Hardware or the Post Office. Other times I stop and shop at the local nursery but not so much this year as in year's past.

Upon returning it's time for lunch. Bill doesn't have lunch. I usually have hummus and chips and soup, often my homemade soup which is the best which I don't mind bragging about. 

After lunch it's time for my daily nap which can last anywhere from one and a half to two hours. Yes, I do take a nap THAT long. I tell Alexa when to wake me. Before I had Alexa I would sometimes sleep three hours or more. What was THAT all about? Old age dotage folks, old man sleeping his life away. 

When I arise from my afternoon nap, which is  taking me longer and longer to come back to earth, I go outside (during the warm weather) and do some yard work. Once a week I mow the lawn. Other times I trim and pull weeds. Sounds boring but I find pleasure in doing these mundane chores.

Around 5 o'clock I make more oatmeal for Bill's dinner. He also gets chocolate milk with his dinner oatmeal. I prepare my diner which lately has been reheated Royal Farms spicy chicken tenders with their fries and biscuits. I accompany that entree with shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber, quartered small tomatoes, Feta cheese crumbles and Wishbone Greek Vingerette salad dressing. Works for me.  

After Bill's oatmeal I give him either a pudding cup or a Danon yogurt cup for dessert. 

Bill sits in is favorite chair in our sunroom which I eat and watch reruns of "Judge Judy" on my DVR recorder. 

When the sun goes down our string of Christmas lights turn on, giving out sunroom and living room a very festive feeling. Both Bill and I love the effect! When the lights go on, that's Bill's cue to go to bed which he heads for the cellar stairs to go to his bedroom. I always tell him I will stop down later and say "Goodnight" to him, even though sometimes I don't because I don't want to disturb him.

Now I have the one time of the day all to myself, which is very necessary to maintain my mental and physical well being as Bill's caregiver. 

I'm back in my home office, on the computer, updating my online Scrabble games, while on my TV I'm playing back some of the MSNBC shows I've recored earlier. Almost all of my TV watching has been prerecorded for my convenience and to enable me to zip through the ever increasing number of commercials that are on TV today. I usually call Pat on FaceTime to see what he did today and to tell him about my day.

I'll futz around on my computer for a couple of hours before I have my nighttime pre bedtime snack. This is My Time. 

During the week this is when I prepare to go to bed. During the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights) I usually watch one of my rented Netflix DVD movies. During week, after I do my evening bathroom absolutions of brushing, Water-Pie and flossing my teeth I go to bed. I always have a book handy to read before I go to sleep.  On good night I can get through two or three pages before I enter an unconscious state. Then during the night I will probably get up two or three times to pee (yes, that often) before I get up again the next morning at ten minutes to seven o'clock. Then I begin my GroundHog Day all over again folks.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Ron's Health Update

 

Me at Herring Cove beach, Provincetown, Mass 1988 - working on developing my future skin cancer diagnosis - fool that I was. Should've listen to all those skin cancer warnings Ron.

Wednesday I received a call from my dermatologist's  office.  She was calling a out the results of the biopsy of that painful "pimple" I had taken off the top of my left ear last Friday. The fact that I was receiving a call was bad news. Yes, the biopsy indicated that I have skin cancer. 

There are three main types of skin cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

Melanoma

My biopsy came back as shamus cell carcinoma. 

I've been going to a dermatologist since 1988 every six months for checkups. Almost every time they find something to burn or cut off my skin. All so far have been actinic keratosis, which are precancerous skin lesions. It has been very routine to have those precancerous skin cancer lesions removed from my skin, mostly my face. 

Where I am now folks is a results of my foolish hunt for that perfect tan when I was young. Oh sure, I heard all the warnings about skin cancer. I ignored them. That is until one day when I decided to go to a dermatologist because different parts of my face hurt when I shaved. My dermatologist discovered that I had numerous spots of actinic keratosis. So many the best way to remove them was a topical form of chemotherapy which was Efudex. I had that applied all over my face which burned off the top layer of my skin. Folks, that was one of the most painful episodes I've ever had in my life and warned me away from my "lying on the beach baking in the sun in search of that perfect tan" days. 

It's ironic that I live near Rehoboth Beach for the last fifteen years and have never played on the sand at the beach in pursuit of that tan. Nope, I don't do that these days folks. So far I've been lucky not to have developed skin cancer but that chicken has come home to roost now. 

Next Friday at 6:30 AM I have an appointment with my dermatologist to have the top part of my left ear removed. It's my cauliflower ear that my father used to mock me so much about and for which I was so ashamed when I was younger. I don't care now, just as long as I've caught the cancer in time.

Me, third grade (1951) my cauliflower ear on the right. 


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Caregiving For Bill Update

I probably shouldn't be writing about this but I will anyway because it is bothering me so much.

Since February 5th, when I picked up Bill from his two week stay at the rehabilitation center in Dover, I've been caregiving full-time for Bill. 

I've left my job at the hotel, which I loved.

I no longer make my quarterly trips to travel with Pat for the foreseeable future. Of course COVID has had a say in my travel plans but COVID is now receding as an impediment to travel. I won't be able to travel as long as I'm caregiving for Bill.

I help him dress. I help him shower. I cook for him. I clean up after him after his accidents (and he just had a really messy one a few days ago). 

I give him his pills twice daily. 

I take him for a ride at least once a day. 

I take care of maintaining our home including mowing the grass and performing small handyman chores that Bill used to do.

The one thing I have asked Bill to do is not to pee in the sink.  

I didn't realize he was peeing in the sink until he first came home from the rehab facility. At first he was using the guest bathroom on the first floor. After couple of days I noticed "that smell" (urinal) coming out of the guest bathroom. That's when I discovered Bill was peeing in the sink. I confronted him about it. He said, "What difference does it make? It all goes the same place."  Uh, actually not. When one pees in the porcelain toilet one is not peeing in a sink with a metal pipe. That's why the metal pipe of Bill's sink in his basement bathroom is all corroded. 

Bill, because of his failing eyesight couldn't do a stand up pee so we agreed he would pee in the hospital jug. He did that for about three months. Only problem there was he wasn't quite getting all his pee in the jug requiring me to clean up the tile floor. I talked to him about it and discovered he couldn't hold the jug the way it was supposed to be held because of his reset broken arm wouldn't permit it. Don't ask, but that's what he tells me.

He said he would use the toilet. He would sit, thus saving me the daily chores of wiping the tile floor three, four and sometimes five times a day and also emptying his urine from the jug.

Tonight, on a hunch, I opened the bathroom door to his bathroom because I had a suspicion he was using the sink again. He was.

Now, I don't want to hear from a blog reader about "He's just an old man and let him do this."  I say no. 

It's not just the cleanliness issue but its a respect issue. He tells me multiple times during the day how much he loves me and appreciates what I am doing for him. I told him tonight "You can tell me you love me over and over again but you have to back up your words with actions. Show me you love me by showing respect for me and pee in the toilet like any civilized person." 

He said he was sorry and asked me to forgive him. Yeah, right. Here is  the truth folks, Bill is lazy about his personal hygiene. He always has been. That's why he came home with fungus medicine from his two stays in the hospital. That's why I insist on washing him with Dial anti-bacterial soap every three days. He complains, and complains but for the first time in years he doesn't have body odor and is clean. 

Maybe the problem is me. From the time I was nine or ten years old I remember being concerned with the cleanliness of myself and place were I lived. Growing up in the Fifties one took a bath once a week. No shower, a bath and make sure you clean the ring around  the bathtub once you get out. I remember my father mocking me for wanting to at least wash my feet daily (me and my brothers didn't wear shoes in the summertime). Then in 1958 when he moved to a small ranch house with a shower, he mocked me for wanting to take a shower more than once a week.  Oh I had a "loving" father, he speciality was to mock me whenever he could. Not a whole lot (actually NONE) of encouragement from dear old dad. By the way, I never called him "Dad". 

I cleaned our apartment, I washed the dishes. I cleaned myself. That's just me. 

My biggest problem here is literally keeping the shit out of this house. And the pee out of the sink.

I probably should apologize that this blog post wasn't one of my uplifting, happy and joyous posts. One good thing about Bill's recovery is that the edema of his legs has settled and we're in a routine of appreciating each day we have together. Except for his bowel accident a few days ago, all has been going well even though he's getting weaker by the day. But he's happy and I was settling into a routine of caring for him. 

Today was a setback. So discouraging. I feel betrayed. Lied to. I've sacrificed so much to make Bill's final days comfortable and happy and he can't do this one little thing for me? It's not only about the cleanliness issue it's about respect. 

I'll go on. I love Bill and want him comfortable. Tomorrow he gets his near hearing aid. He lost his other one two months ago. He doesn't know what he did with it. Even though I told him not to touch his hearing aid when he had it on his side table to change the battery.  Again, he lied to me and tried to change the battery even though he can't see the battery. And you remember the projects?  He said he wouldn't do any more projects? He's still doing them. I gave up on that one, figuring it's best that he doesn't something besides sit all day and doze off. I try to keep and eye on him that he doesn't do too much damage during one of his projects.  

There, I've said it. I'm not trolling for sympathy or confirmation. I'm venting. As I have said many times in this blog, this is my therapy. I don't need to go to a therapist. This blog is my therapy. 

"It's Hot!"

Bill eating his hot oatmeal   "It's hot!" That's what I say twice a day when I serve Bill his twice daily meal of oatmeal...