Happy New Year 2024 (originally 12/16/23)

August 9, Tom blew out the candles on an oversized cupcake to celebrate his 90th. Two bouts of summer pneumonia have put him in hospice. Bedridden, on oxygen and with pressure sores, he dines on purees and thickened liquids. Just before Thanksgiving, Polly brought him home from 305 West End Assisted Living. He still sometimes recognizes her  and even says a few words. And his broad smile still brings joy to everyone around him.

Polly has gained new respect and admiration for health aides. Demented people–often in pain, confused and frightened–may kick, punch and scream insults. It’s difficult enough to position, diaper, wash and feed them. The best aides talk and laugh with their patients, explain calmly what’s happening, stroke and hug them and gently coax them into cooperating. That takes tremendous love and patience.

Tom the scientist would have loved Polly’s current project: treating his sores with medicinal maggots. Yes, the larvae of our familiar green bottle fly will clean out non-healing wounds faster, better, and cheaper than any surgeon. This ancient but FDA-approved treatment could save millions of diabetics and others from suffering and losing limbs.

Managing supplies of diapers, liners, chux, wipes, gloves, meds… Polly sometimes feels she has traded in a life of the mind for the life of a supply mule. How did humanity survive before the invention of these ecologically-disastrous products? But she still finds a little time to write about how inequality in living species affects their evolution.

This year Polly adopted Flame the Bearded Dragon. Lizzie, as she’s also known, has already grown from a six-inch baby to a 17-inch teenager. She eats bugs and bok choi and spends most of her day basking on a warm rock.

Our deepest thanks to our Right at Home aides, Amanda, Elaine and Hammond and our Calvary Hospice nurses, Andrea, Sara, Kaitlin and Maggie. And to the wonderful staff at 305: Elvira, Nancy, Paco, Lenny, Aaron, Karina, Fara, Jonathan, Rose, Beatrice, Bladi, Yojani, Caroline, Gloria, Maria, Michelle, Sharon, France, Cheryl, Pearl, Fiona, Shavonne, Samantha, Tye, Alex, Jack and so many more. (Photo by Aaron.)

As Tom told the guests at his 88th birthday party, “May all of you have a wonderful wonderful life as I have been lucky to have.”

Comments are closed.