Monday, December 11, 2006

It was a windy day

12/11/06 Monday
This morning I’m calling everyone we know from Toledo or at least the ones we want to keep in contact with. I got through to Sharon first as Wayne’s number was busy. It was a reminder of the destruction that city life can bring. They just learned that her son, who is thirty years old, is a crack addict. This had been hidden by his poor wife for quite some time, perhaps years. This is not unusual. People often do so out of a misguided love that wants to “protect” the other and because of the embarrassment and shame that comes with these things. So many of us put on a good face for the rest of the world and especially family to see. It’s a shame they don’t see how that can make things worse. He’s been going on binges, what we called fiending in that world, for up to four days. This is when a crackhead goes off and just disappears, going from one crack house to another. The last time he spent $2600.00. As usual he gets money from wherever he can, making up whopper stories to borrow from family and friends. With the mental instability caused by such drug use he becomes a Jekyll and Hyde with the emphasis on the evil nasty part. He told his wife she was ugly and that he had gotten another girl pregnant. When Sharon let their parents know he went off and called her every vile name in the book. This is part of the world we are leaving but it is the area I ministered well in because of my experience.

This has been tough on Sharon of course. She has her own problems so this is too much. For those of you who are new to following our story I’ll fill you in on who Sharon is. Sharon lived upstairs from the place I had gotten Wayne in to get him out of the homeless shelter. I suppose I’ll be telling you about him and others I’m going to write about so you’ll have a clearer picture. This place is a section eight apartment complex that has all the problems that come with subsidized housing. Sharon has a traumatic brain injury from being beat with a pipe by her ex husband. With that and the years of abuse she is heavily medicated to allow her to function with the anxiety and fear she must always fight. After she was beat up and hospitalized by another crack head she was able to move to a safer environment. The guy is in prison now but would call and threaten her and her parents from jail. He has been up for parole a few times and each time Sharon goes to testify to the parole board in order to prevent his being released. Her fear of him is debilitating and she hides, screening every call. So having her son going off just amplifies her psychosis.

Next I was able to get through to Sonny. Sonny is one of those who responded to the Toledo’s John Doe story about me. We had been friends and shot pool on the league our favorite bar sponsored. He let me live in his house, allowing me to sleep on the couch, thus getting me out of the homeless shelter and off the streets. This was the path that would allow me to get my mind back into balance and become functional. Sonny was on dialysis for years because of the kidney failure his years of drinking contributed to. One of the first things he told me was “I got my transplant”. Cool. His brother had been tested and found compatible to donate a kidney so this was a culmination of years of waiting. Sonny said he is gaining weight fast and never felt better. He is going out on his Harley despite his doctors objections but that’s Sonny. I would too. Love my bikes but can’t afford one and Cherie is not too keen about me having a motorcycle so probably won’t get one. We talked for a while but I finally had to let him go.

The next call was to Wayne. Most of you are real familiar with him but his story bears repeating. I briefly shared it with Sunday school yesterday as they talked about Hope.

It’s 1:40 at the moment. I was feeling weak and light headed so I took a break to fix some of the peanut butter and honey on toast that I like so much. Then I went outside to try out the bow saw I bought a week or so ago at Home Depot. Tried to saw the tree in the back yard that had fallen over years ago but the saw won’t cut straight. I tried a smaller branch and that proved to be a much bigger chore than I had imagined. Anyway I think I will need to lay down for a bit as I so often must around this time of day. That should rejuvenate me.

It’s 8:00 now. I laid down for an hour and a half and it did help. When I got up I tore the fence down that was attached to the garage in the back yard. Much of it was fairly rotted out but I saved the fence slats that had some good wood on them.

I’ll go through them removing nails and cutting off the rotted parts later. With them and the good sections of the two by fours that held them I figure on building some shelves to stack wood and stuff on in the garage. Still thinking woodworking shop and will slowly build with that in mind. Whether it happens or not only time will tell.

Now back to Wayne. I met him at the homeless shelter. Unlike most of the residents there he was not an alcoholic, seriously mentally ill, or drug addict so we stuck together. Wayne has MS and because of it’s steady deterioration he was unable to work, thus becoming homeless and losing everything like I had. He was not just severely depressed but the MS had advanced to the point it was effecting his reasoning ability. It is deeply imbedded in my nature to help those who are weak and in need so despite my condition I took him under my wing so to speak. I started taking him to the library downtown (It’s only four blocks away) to get him away from the potentially dangerous residents and other miscreants who hung around when we were all kicked out of the shelter every day. MS makes one extremely sensitive to heat and the library is air conditioned so it was a good place for him Besides that he needed to get some exercise despite his pain and having to use a walker. This picture is him at the library.

Wayne is a veteran like me. I had already gone through what were for me the hard tasks of getting signed up for public assistance and starting the process of getting approved for Social Security disability so began getting him in the system. Because of the deterioration of the brain caused by MS Wayne has allot of the same symptoms I have from my brain injury such as short term memory loss. I started teaching him the things I was taught at the Brain Injury Institute in St Louis to compensate for it.

It is always a fight to get the government, whether state or federal, to do their job so I added Wayne to my agenda. First was to get the VA to enroll him in the homeless program and to recognize he had an illness so he could get medical attention. I had already been in touch with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who had flagged me for congressional interest regarding my disability so I took Wayne to meet her. She learned of some of the problems we were both getting from the VA and got on it. Next thing I the individual (Dewey Tally) who was responsible was fired and we both started getting the help that was available.

After getting off the street because of the John Doe story on TV I worked to get Wayne approved for section 8 housing. There was a long list but it finally happened. Because it was an extremely unsafe environment, with drug trafficking going on like a fast food drive through, gunfire, and prostitution I then went to work to get Wayne moved to a safer environment, especially after Sharon got beat up. That too was a fight but letter writing is a powerful way to get things done so it finally got done. Cherie’s family helped move Wayne and had already provided him with some furniture and things like that.

It took three years but I finally got Wayne approved for his Social Security disability. Had to get him a lawyer but it was done shortly before we left for Texas. Now Wayne is waiting for his first check. The state is holding it up to get paid back the $115.00 a month I had got for him through Family Services (Ohio’s welfare program) Even that had been a fight. I had gone in with Wayne and had me put on his records that I was his advocate so could represent him. His case worker thought I was a lawyer or something and got off her ass. Next thing we knew she pulled out the forms for a program she remembered they had and he got food stamps, Medicaid, and the $115.00 plus his utilities paid. I may have brain damage but that doesn’t make me stupid. Besides it’s fun, at least for me, to make people do their job. Comes with a feeling of satisfaction. Besides I kinda like starting trouble or shaking things up like that, at least when it’s for a good cause.

So that’s Wayne. He is doing much better. You can read more about his story by typing his name in the search engine at the top of this blog. It is a great relief to know he is in good hands now with the Zeph Center and MS Society I hooked him up with. Here he is at an MS Society party.

That’s pretty much all the calls I got out today. No, I did get a hold of Eileen, my former secretary, but she was just pulling into the doctors office so we didn’t get to talk long. That’s a story I’ll save for tomorrow after I call her back. I called Allen, an old friend who had blown himself up in a fireworks accident. He is going through some serious issues stemming from chronic pain that I wasn’t able to resolve but I still do what I can as far as emotional support.

Cherie has been doing some sewing, making curtains. I snapped this picture of her. She’s not always thrilled at my penchant for taking her picture so I deleted the ones that had a somewhat different expression on her face. Then I made her laugh as I so love to do so here you go. Beautiful ain’t she.

Though there is much in Toledo that we are glad to be away from there are many we left our hearts with and will always care for. That’s pretty much it for today folks. See ya next time.

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