Thursday, February 7, 2019

Good Samaritan Fallout

I'm not what any sane man of average intelligence would call a good Samaritan.  I'm a crusty old curmudgeon, generally half in the bag.  I like dogs, cats, guns, and whiskey.  I don't like people, which is why I live alone.  Well, one reason anyway.

So a few months back when my neighbor, Next-door Nancy, asked me for a ride to the bank and then to the grocery store, I pretty much shrugged it off and told her we'd put it on the street in five.  That's how it got started.

The deal with Next-door Nancy is that she's had a head injury followed by neurosurgery, and there are after-effects.  For instance, seizures.  Next-door Nancy is prone to zone out and tip over without warning.  I actually found her lying in the parking lot last July and called the meat wagon for her, which she didn't like a bit.

"It's only a seizure, honey.  Just wait until I come out of it, instead of making a fuss and running up medical charges of six bills and change."  Or words to that effect.

Her hands shake.  She can't write.  Tying her shoes takes 20 minutes or so.  Anything requiring dexterity is impossible.  She's about five-three and maybe 110, and she walks everywhere, weather permitting.  I've even offered her a ride in good weather, and she declines.  I think it's a measure of independence for her.

About a month back Nancy came over to the shack and requested I trim an ingrown toenail for her.  I declined.  Anything involving bathroom surgery is above my pay grade and outside my official license.  I told her to call a podiatrist and make an appointment.  Thirty minutes later she's back over at my shack, telling me her appointment is tomorrow at eleven, and looking at me expectantly.  What could I say?

All kinds of things, but I told her we'd leave at ten forty.  Me and my big fat yap.

And so it came to pass that I skipped my morning snort and took Nancy to the podiatrist, Dr. Slipshod, and took my Kindle along so as to keep myself amused while waiting in the waiting room.  Turns out the waiting room has a fish tank, a TV with the sound off, and three chairs.  I settled in and started reading Jack Vance.  About 45 minutes later I realized that Next-door Nancy should have been out some time back.  I go back to Vance and finish the chapter, then the nurse comes out and escorts me back to the treatment room.

The floor has an untidy pile of bloody gauze, Nancy is looking okay, but the big toe on her right foot is looking a bit the worse for wear.  The nurse starts bandaging the foot while giving me directions on changing the dressing every day.  Why is she bending my ear with this First-Aid for Retards junk?  Then the truth hits me.  I'm slow, but I eventually get there.  Nancy has to soak her foot in Epson salts for 15 minutes, then the toe gets dressed with magic powder, Neosporin, and covered by a band-aid.  With the way her hands shake Nancy isn't able to do any of this, so it just naturally falls to little old me.

Oh well.  It probably builds character or something.

But there's just a little more to the story.  Nancy is on several kinds of bats-in-the-belfry medications.  She's neurotic-psychotic complete with fits and gaslighting.  In the old days they'd say she was a bit too high strung.  Back in my day (shut up you guys) they'd say she was wound tighter than Oscar's pocket watch at high noon.  Now, if Nancy stays on her meds, she's okay.  One of these meds is Clonazepam (Klonopin, Clonazepam); I don't know the other two.  So naturally she fails to take her meds and goes koo-koo.

The first person to get wind of Nancy's new outlook on life is the church pastor, who listened to her without comment for three minutes or so, then hung up and called nine-one-one.  The cops got there ahead of the meat wagon and ascertained that:
  • Nancy was unarmed
  • Nancy was threatening suicide, homicide, and general carnage
So Nancy went away to the happy house for three days for observation, and when she got back she was riding on an even keel.  Seemingly, anyway.

Well, time goes merrily along as time is want to do, and Nancy's toe heels up, which makes me happy as I know happiness, and just when I'm ready to celebrate -

Runaway train on track 13!

Two weeks ago Next-door  Nancy told me that she was running low on pills, and the pharmacy wouldn't give her a refill because controlled substance, opioid crises, political assholes, new laws and all that.  No sweat, I tell her.  Call your doctor and explain what happened (she spilled the bottle trying to fill her weekly pill dispenser and some of the pharmaceuticals rolled under the refrigerator - her hands shake, right?) and the doctor will fix it.

So naturally she didn't do that, and I didn't check up on her.  Yeah, I'm a real fathead sometimes.

Nancy shows up at my door this morning around ten.  She rants.  She raves.  It's raining, water is building up on her patio, she has no money and no food, and her buddy Gayle was supposed to take her shopping today but canceled - the nerve! - and so now she's in misery.  Well, I can kind of sympathize with this.  Empathize, anyway.  No problem, I'll get my foot gear on and we'll go to the bank, then to the store.

Nancy isn't getting any cheerier on the ride to the bank, so I ask her if she's taken her medication today.  She affirms she has, so I just shrug and keep driving.  She's having a bit of a bad day, and that's it.

Nancy spends about ten minutes in the bank, nine of which is spent bending the ear of the poor bank manager.  The bank has glass walls, and I can see this poor guy wondering just what he did to deserve a customer who is yelling at him and waving her arms.  In truth, I can't hear anything, but judging from what I'm seeing I figure there's every chance in the world that the manager is hitting some kind of silent alarm, the cops are going to show up, arrest Nancy, and I'll get stuck in the middle.  I am truly not up for this.

Nancy comes out with a mitt full of dead presidents and we head to Kroger's.  She seems a bit calmer, but I'm not sure that's true.  Maybe she's just holding herself together somehow.

We get to Kroger's and I powder off to pick up a few things.  I go through the check out line, noting that my cashier is named Gwendolyn, has long blonde hair, a three day growth, and has a button that reads She and Her.  Oh boy.  Then the shit hits the fan.  Nancy's in the next lane over and she's throwing a fit.  She can't find things, everyone is grinning at her in derision (they aren't), and she's going to kill herself.  She doesn't just say this.  She screams it.

Holy hell on a biscuit.

I try to get her to calm down, but she isn't having it.  She refuses.  Other customers try to help, but nothing doing.  The manager shows up and manages to fill her order.  While he's playing step and fetch it, Nancy is alternately weeping quietly or giving serious hell to everyone within earshot.  I wait, hoping against hope that we, mainly me, can get out of here without the local constabulary getting involved.

Nancy comes within a whisker of getting barred from the store for the rest of her natural life, but we manage to make it out.  On the way home I discover that, surprise surprise, she hasn't taken her meds today.  The reason for this is that she spilled the contents of a bottle while loading her pill dispenser.  I tell her to call her doctor as soon as she gets home, and browbeat her until she agrees.  We get home and I escape.

I make a few calls, starting with the church.  It turns out that they've been having trouble with Nancy for about three days now.  Then her sister, who is Nancy's emergency contact and who has no clue as to what's going on.  I explain the scene at Kroger's and the woman is truly amazed.

One way or another, I give Nancy's doctor a call.  He's out, but the nurse is in.  When I explain what's going on, the staff swings into action and gets refill orders on all prescriptions.  I'm relieved and thank her.

One of the neighbors (the president of our Condo Association, Madam President) took Nancy to the pharmacy.  Good, now she's got pills.  Take two and call me in the morning!

She won't.  She refuses.

Somebody pass me a cigarette and a blindfold.

Nancy shows back up at my door.  She wants to bitch and moan and complain.  I want her to take her pills.  It took me twenty minutes, but she finally returned to her home and took her nerve medicine.  I checked on her an hour later, and she was coming down.

And that's how today got shot to hell.

I don't know what I'm going to do in the future.  In my mind we're all in this together, and if a person can give a little help to another poor sap who desperately needs it, help should be given.  At the same time you can reach a point where enough is enough.  I'm tired.  My nerves are shot.

I'm going to have a drink.


Storyteller said...

No good deed goes unpunished.

Mad Jack said...

Ain't that the truth.

Old NFO said...

You sir, have the patience of a saint for putting up with that.

Mad Jack said...

Thanks Old NFO.

Unknown said...

You ol' teddy bear. There's a lesson here for you. Well, all of us I reckon. Do not again excuse your morning snort.

Mad Jack said...

There a lesson somewhere, and when I find it I'll... buy the house a round of drinks.

Thanks for stopping by, Unknown.

Bob G. said...

Somehow, I feel there's gonna be a nice recliner and a cold one waiting for you at the Pearly gates.
It takes a STRONG individual to do what You've done.
My hat's off to 'ya.

Stay safe out there.

glasslass said...

Every time I come back to your blog I find myself laughing out loud. Thanks so much and good luck with the little old lady. They'll get ya every time.

Mad Jack said...

Thanks Bob_G. The Pearly Gates just got a little nicer looking.

Thanks GlassLass. They do, don't they?

I've talked to three individuals involved with Nextdoor Nancy, and all three have told me that 'she shouldn't be living alone'. I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying, "No, she shouldn't - but I'm sure as hell not going to move in with her!"

What do they expect from me?

Buzzy Whitlow said...

Neighbor Nancy belongs in an assisted living facility.

lovetolaugh said...

Hahaha, Bravo !
You are my kind of people, you can find the humor in the most frustrating situations. I also think there might be a story behind Gwendolyn the cashier. Let us know if that comes about !