Saturday, February 11, 2006

So long little friend

The Evil One threatened, so in accordance with my new Zero Tolerance policy, I took a laxative yesterday morning. Sure enough, at the expected hour (two o'clock), Dresden lay in flames.

I picked up my darling daughter from preschool, noticing as I did so that tall young women who wear skirts, and t-shirts that celebrate cleavage, have vast expanses of skin that appears soft, uniform in coloration and texture, and completely devoid of little red or purple spots, white nodules, tiny scars, or hairs. Their skin is like some kind of ultra-fine canvas, four million threads per inch.

Anyway, back to the farewell story, which began around five o'clock. Here's the procedure for what to do if you get the runs, but you can't run, and there's some doubt about how much longer you'll be able to walk: You mess your pants on the way to the bathroom. While you are in there, you discover that your ALS-addled hands are unable to unbutton your newly-purchased pants. You slide them down over your hips, because they have some elastic in them. Dresden lies in flames.

Your courageous wife, who has a sinus infection and is on antibiotics, has very little energy and is sensitive to noise. The kids are both cranky and are yelling at her in overlapping turns. You focus on getting yourself wiped, thinking how, in moments like this, your focus narrows down to taking care of the simple things, and that you are forgiven for focusing on yourself alone.

Little footsteps come up the stairs, confront the closed bathroom door. "Mom! I need to go pee!"

Now you are no longer focused on just yourself. But thankfully there is a plastic potty downstairs. You get out of the pants, which is tricky when you have ALS, you wrap up the underwear inside the pants, wash your hands fervently, and lurch into the master bedroom with a towel around your waist. There, you put on clean underwear and pants.

Your carry the smelly wad of pants down to the laundry room, take the rags out of the dryer, put the wet items from the washer into the dryer, and then put the disgusting underwear and pants into the washer. You set it going on its longest cycle and with lots of detergent, then go upstairs to use that button hook to button the clean pants you have put on. You douse your hands in alcohol-based disinfectant lotion, and prepare to rejoin your family and help out your generous wife.

Reflexively, you pat your pocket to check for your keys and your 2.8-ounce cell phone.

So long little friend.
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