|Posted by John Jung on June 22, 2015 at 12:15 AM||comments (23)|
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|Posted by John Jung on November 1, 2012 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
George is doing pretty well healthwise, and adjusted to being limited in mobility. He entertains himself watching tv, especially after discovering a channel that shows old cowboy movies all day. He also enjoys the various programs hosted on PBS by Huell Howser, the good old boy, who interviews people and visits scenic landmarks. He 'follows' the Bay area sports teams like the Giants, 49ers, Oakland A's and Raiders although he really doesn't know much about football or baseball. He is just pleased and proud whenever the local teams win.
About a year ago, he discovered how useful it is to videotape programs. At first he was resistant, as he usually is with new activities. But once he saw how easy it is to tape programs, he records many of his favorite programs. Fortunately, he doesn't try to do any timed recording, a feat that most people find difficult to do.
Mary, our older sister now lives about 30 miles away and it is not possible for her to come visit as often except when she takes him for medical procedures and tests. We now have a home care provider come by two times a week to clean house and help him with bathing, etc.
I call him 2 or 3 times a week just to talk, but he seems to do well on his own. Occasionally he might see a neighbor out front and has a chance to talk with them, but otherwise he stays home. He was interested in playing simple videogames for a while but not as much any more. His other passion has been computer chess, usually at the lowest level of difficulty so that he occasionally wins. Even if he doesn't win, he still enjoys playing.
|Posted by Jeff on February 8, 2012 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
When I was growing up, I realized that George wasn't like any other adult I knew, but I don't think it occurred to me that this meant there was anything "wrong" with him. It seemed to work for him. He didn't go off to a job or participate in "grown-up" conversations, and he was as likely to be chided for his misbehaviors as any of us children. It was different, but it didn't seem to be a problem. I recall being impressed by the armies of stuffed animals. It showed a real dedication and determination, but nothing was impressive as the chess set made of Star Wars action figures. The 8 Artoo Detoos that served as pawns would have been the envy of any child of the 70s.
I also have curiously strongly embedded memories of George's comic book collection. I have never seen those comics (or really any others) since those days, but I remember the plots and dialogue of many of them: Superman and Flash being forced to compete in a race to save their hometowns from destruction, the origins of Supergirl, and the highly traumatic death of Robin at the hands of the Joker. Maybe it was the respect I had for George's collections, including his irresistable hotrod racetracks, that made it impossible for me to detect that there was anything amiss in the way his mind worked.
It would hardly have been flattering to myself to see his as slow, since I recall losing many a game of chess to him. George had certain habits that he exercised while playing, designed to infuriate the opponent into a misstep. When capturing a piece, he would scream, "Knock that sucka off the board," and send the captured piece flying by bashing it with the capturing piece. If his opponent brought a piece to menace one of his, he would cause his piece to sniff at the one threatening him, then drag it away to another square, yelling, "Move this sucka outta here!"
I remember fighting with him the way I would fight with my brother, though I can't remember what any of the fights were about.
|Posted by John Jung on February 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
The whole family was always worried about how George would be able to manage if he had to be on his own. When his mother died in 1998, George was put to the test. He surprised everyone by his ability to be self-reliant. True, he did not keep a clean house, but he did manage to prepare simple, often repeitive, meals for himself. He needed some coaxing to wash his clothes regularly and some initial help in buying food and other necessities.
He became friendly with neighbors on the street, engaging in small talk and showing interest in them. Fortunately, he had good neighbors and they accepted him well. George did spend much time watching television and playing computer chess for entertainment. Unless he had a cold, he often would journey to San Francisco by CalTrain, SamTran, or BART to visit "friends" in stores, buy char siu bow in Chinatown, or go to his long-time barber for haircuts.
The only relative living near by was his oldest sister, Mary, who would come over from Foster City when he needed assistance or had to go for medical checkups. Fortunately, most of his life, George was in reasonably good health given his lack of regular exercise, balanced diet, etc. Despite never having had dental cleaning, he never had cavities although his teeth were full of tartar. Occasionally, he might have a cold because he did not dress warmly and would go out in his slippers without socks all over the peninsula on his visits to toy stores such as Talbots or visit the Target stores.
George lived a solitary life, but he never complained of being lonely. He had his make-believe world of action figures amd stuffed animals, which seemed to make him content.
But age has a way of catching up with everyone. In mid or early 2011, George started noticing pain in one of his legs and had difficulty walking. Since he had the habit of sitting yoga style on the floor all the time, rarely sitting in a chair, it was not surprising that his legs might give him problems.
One day, as he was moving the trash can to the curb, he lost his balance and fell. He knocked out several of his teeth. Given that he had not seen a dentist since he was probably 10 years old or younger, it was a concern as to how he would be able to deal with the pain involved with dental work. The dentist was very patient and understanding so all went very well.
Still, George had persistent and incapacitating leg pain. Numerous visits to the doctor, MRIs, etc. and tests led to a diagnosis of mulitple myeloma, a cancer involving white blood cell production. He took chemo for several months, and then was taken off it for a while to see what his condition was. An experimental treatment invovling Revlomid was recommended. However, he had severe side effects of rashes all over his body and swelling of his head and he was taken off the medication after 2 days.
Throughout all these difficult experiences, George is remarkably stoic and remains cheerful. What lies ahead, no one knows, but how George has managed to deal with his health problems is amazing.