Life after Beth, Part II

by Bernard Brandt

Gentle readers,

I would like to be able to say that I am able to write again. Depression and recent events have interfered with that process, however. The reason for the depression, alas, is obvious. I have also still been in the process of digging out from under the disaster which the loss of a spouse to cancer occasions.

Several recent events have had their part, however, in making matters worse. One of those involved my failure to address several fix-it tickets (relating to lack of registration) which I had entirely disregarded, due in turn to my having to take care of Beth while she was dying. By the time that I had recovered enough so as to start addressing them again, I found that my driver’s license had been suspended. I managed to park my car in a friend’s garage, however, and to arrange for court dates at the Torrance and Compton courts to attempt to deal with those tickets, and to restore my driver’s license. But the earliest that I could get those court appearances was the latter part of October.

So, I walked most everywhere I needed to go, for groceries and such, and I arranged with friends and church members to get rides to St. Andrew Russian Catholic Church, about twenty miles away from where I live, and to Ride to Fly, the organization which Beth used to volunteer for. And when I had to go to Torrance and Compton Courthouses, I was able to find public transit routes that got me there relatively quickly.

When the time and date came to go to the Torrance Courthouse, I got there perhaps a half hour early. Having had some experience with courts and with legal process, I dressed in a dress shirt, pants, shoes, and tie. If it had not been for the hot weather, I would probably also have worn a dress jacket. As it appears, I was the only one of the fifty people arraigned that day who had done so. I also brought Beth’s death certificate, and showed it to the court clerk, as I explained my situation. She put it in the court papers, and when my name was called, and the judge asked why a ‘birth’ certificate was in my papers, I explained to him what it was, and why I could not take care of the tickets or appear earlier. The judge quite kindly reduced my fines from $1,500.00 or so down to $100.00, which was the maximum to which he could reduce them. The next day, I did similarly with the Compton Courthouse, and got the fines reduced from $1,000.00 to $50.00. Thank God.

After paying the fines, I waited over the weekend, because while the Torrance Court immediately put a release out to the DMV, the Compton Court’s release took effect on that Saturday afternoon. On the following Monday, I took a local bus to the local DMV office, paid the fees (an additional $52.00), and got my license restored. While one ticket remains (for $200.00!), it interferes only with my ability to get my car re-registered. I am in the process of seeing if I can get this one reduced as well, and I have made sure that at least my registration fees have been paid.

On the diabetes front, and as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve managed to normalize my fasting blood sugars by diet, and through diet and exercise, I’ve also managed to reduce my weight from 205 to 185 pounds in the last two months. By way of testing, I’ve allowed myself some indiscretions, of pizza, potatoes, and other starches, and as long as I don’t overdo it, my blood sugars remain within normal limits. After Hallowe’en, however, my indiscretions included a number of pieces of candy, and it would appear that I still do not tolerate simple sugars. So, I shall be continuing on reducing weight until I get to 170 pounds, in the hopes that that will reduce the interabdominal fat which is playing hob with my blood sugar levels. We shall see.

Unfortunately, I suffered a setback of another sort about three weeks ago. As I was walking out of a friend’s house at night, the side and front yard of his house was dark, and as I was walking out, I tripped in the darkness upon a cast iron piece of lawn furniture. I fell, and struck my right forehead against the concrete, which left a rather large L-shaped gash in my right forehead at the edge of my right eyebrow. I waited twelve hours, but found that the gash would not stop bleeding, and so I asked a friend to drive me to the local Emergency Room. They put in five stitches, gave me a complete neurological exam, and even did a CT scan, which confirmed something that I had been suspecting for years: they found that I had no brains!

Seriously, what they did find, other than some slight swelling of the right prefrontal lobe, were changes in the subcortical and white matter layers of the brain consistent with small vessel ischemia. Translated into English, they found no serious brain injuries from my fall, but did find beginning evidence of some small brain damage as a likely result of my diabetes. These findings have given me more than ever a resolve to eliminate my obesity, to see if I can also thereby moderate my diabetes and resultant high blood sugars. I’m rather attached to my brains, my retinas, and my kidneys, and I would very much like to keep them all in proper working order, thank you.

One result of my fall, nowever, is that I’ve been reintroduced to a rather good substance called Egyptian Magic, which is a mixture of raw honey, beeswax, and olive oil. Applied topically on one’s skin, it does rather nicely to heal scars and reduce wrinkles, and has been found to help treat a number of skin conditions, including contact dermatitis and psoriasis. I mean, what’s not to like, as it is both natural and more effective in treating those skin conditions than topical steroids. In fact, the only thing that I do not like Egyptian Magic is its current price (about $40.00 for a 4 oz. jar). But I’ve figured out how to make my own supply, and I’m thinking rather seriously about setting up an online store to sell my own version at half their price.

One way or another, however, I’m going to have to do something to obtain an additional source of income. With her death, I lost not only Beth, but her disability Social Security income. As a result, my own SSI provides less than half of what I need to keep Beth’s and my income. While my family has been willing to help me so far, I doubt that that will continue for much longer. I have therefore the real likelihood of becoming homeless. I ask your prayers so that that may not happen.