Progress (of a sort) Report

by Bernard Brandt

(With apologies to Gabriel Sanchez, from whom I shamelessly stole the above picture).

It’s been getting rather like the Book of Job around these parts, between the fleas, the disease, and the pleas. Where do I begin?

The fleas.

In the last few days of my poor cat Tiggr’s life, he had begun to pick up a large number of sand fleas from outside. It had been too soon since his last administration of Advantage, and so I could not give him another dose. But by the time Tiggr had gone, the fleas on him had infested the living room, and the couch on which I had been sleeping in particular.

For the next week, life in my apartment duplex was miserable. I tried leaving dishes of water with dish detergent in each of the rooms on a daily basis, to try to kill them, and also to assay where they were in the house. As a result, I would get perhaps a hundred per day of drowned fleas in the living room, and perhaps five to ten in each of the other rooms. But the fleas just kept on coming. I even tried sprinkling borax on the living room floor, in the carpet, and in the couch, but also to no avail.

Finally, I decided yesterday to get a couple of Raid bug bombs to spray the place. But I had to wait until the early afternoon to set them off, because of…

The disease.

More particularly, when we transferred her insurance to the hospice care and to the convalescent home, I inquired about and was assured that her thyroid medication and her anti-cancer drugs would be continued. It was only after I had signed the papers, and she had been transferred to the home, that I was informed that, no, the hospice care would not be covering either drug, as they did not consider those to be either ‘palliative care’ or the ominous ‘end of life care.’

I also found that Beth’s insurance had been cancelled for our pharmacy, and thus, I would have to pay full price for her medications: $16.00 per month for the thyroid, and $300.00 per month for the anti-cancer drug. While I was able to find much  lesser prices through an online Canadian company, they informed me that it would take three weeks for the drugs to pass through U.S. Customs. And on Thursday, I was informed by the convalescent home nurses that she had only two days of the anti cancer drug left.

So at 9:30 a.m. I called Beth’s oncologist’s office, explained the situation, and asked if they had any samples which could be used as a bridge supply until I could obtain more through Canada. They said that they would get back to me.

I waited until 1:30 p.m., tried calling again, and got no response. In the meantime, I had prepared the house for the bug bombing. So, at 1:30, I set off the bombs, and quickly exited and locked up the house. I then tried visiting Beth at 2:00 p.m., only to find that in the morning, Beth had woken up from a dream in which I had supposedly had a sexual affair that she had discovered. And, in her confused state, she believed the dream was real. I tried convincing her otherwise, but to no avail.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to go from the convalescent home in Long Beach to the oncologist’s office in Redondo Beach. After waiting there, I finally found at a bit past 4:00 that the nursing staff had gotten my message, that they had been working (and quite hard) to get the necessary samples, and I was presented with a month’s supply of the needed medicine for Beth. Because of other errands, I was not able to get home until about 7:30, at which point, I opened all of the doors and windows, and began the process of the re-cleaning of all of my clothes, dishes, etc. to prevent (or at least to limit) my contact with a pesticide which I know to be both a neurotoxin and a carcinogen. O Joy. O Rupture. I will probably be at that for the next week.

But my work at cleaning the house has been interrupted, at least for now, by The Pleas.

It seems that the disabled woman that I had attempted to help has now asked me to do the paperwork so that she can get into a new apartment. I had given her the paperwork so that she could have someone else act as her attorney in fact for that limited purpose, but it seems that she has no one else to help her. So, after I visit a wife who thinks (erroneously!) that I am cheating on her, while I am giving the staff the drugs that might help to keep her alive, I will be going to the disabled woman’s place in Long Beach, back to the (hopefully) new apartment to sign the papers, and then back home to clean up the house. It seems that no good deed goes unpunished.

I am reminded of St. Teresa of Avila, who on finding that the axle of her horse cart had broken, leaving her and her fellow nuns stranded in a wild land, where it had just begun raining, she shook her fist at the heavens and yelled: “God, if this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few of them. While I do not claim to have (nor by any means in fact have) anything like St. Teresa’s sanctity, let us just say that I know exactly how she felt.