Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friends sing to friend to get him out of seizures

Mahlon Moore knows her Social Security number by heart. He fills her pillbox every week. He reaches the things on the top shelf that she can’t.

She sings to him.

“I give her a pill at night and she sings me out of my seizures,” he said.

The pair has lived together for almost 10 years in a house that smells a mix of air freshener, laundry detergent and staleness. They live behind loosely drawn shades in the lights of a Christmas scene blinking on a shelf.

Two or three times a month, Moore leaves the house. Sometimes for doctors appointments, other times to pick up essentials, like light bulbs. Anne Good leaves maybe once a month.

Multiple sclerosis and nerve problems have folded her body in on itself, confining her to a wheelchair.

“I sang the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ last time until I couldn’t remember the words,” Good said. “Then I just hummed.”

She said when Moore has a seizure his head turns to the right. If she can get him to turn it to the left, he can usually break it. The seizures last anywhere from five seconds to five minutes. Once, when he was a boy in Meadowview, a seizure lasted three-and-a-half hours. The doctors didn’t think he’d live. But he did and went on too work at Columbus-McKinnon in Damascus in the 1970s. He stayed there until his seizure got too bad. He decided to quit when he had 35 in just one week.
“I didn’t think what I was drawing each week was worth it,” he said.

Moore met Good on the street in 1994. He was walking up a steep hill, the hill that the two now live on. She invited him to rest in a chair beneath a tree.

“After about 20 minutes it was as if we’d known each other all our lives,” he said.

A few years later, after Good’s mother died, the two decided that Moore should move in. He has fewer seizures now, since he has moved in. The house is calmer, less stressful than the apartments where he had lived. Still, the seizures act up now and again, especially when people visit.

Some days he has more, some days less. Not long ago, he had three in one day.

“It’s scary, I never know when I’m going to have one,” he said. “I’ve got no control and I’m just left awfully, awfully weak.”

Family, friends, church and civic groups and a home health nurse take care of Moore’s and Good’s daily needs. The drugstore down the road delivers Good’s medication to her.

“You were out not long ago,” Moore said, but he can’t quite remember when her last doctor’s appointment was.

“I have no other reason to go out,” Good said. “I listen to the news and I guess I’m happy to be at home. I’m not a cold or a hot weather fan anyways.”

“I’d rather be here with her than anything else,” he said.

“I feel safer here than anything else,” she said.

He reads to her and cooks. Cheese omelets, unless she’s in the kitchen too, telling him what to do. She loves to cook, she said, but can’t reach stove anymore. So he does the cooking, dirtying every dish in the house in the process.

They’re happy where they are.

Neither Good nor Moore say they need much. Good doesn’t even want anything for Christmas, except for Moore to get better. He was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. He has three more chemotherapy treatments to go, but quit them last week after he got too dizzy and his blood pressure got too high.

And they have fun where they are.

Sometimes “when we get wound up,” Good said, they sing along with Andy Griffith at the top of their lungs.

“We don’t get wound up, not too often anymore,” she said.

They did last Christmas, though, cranking the stereo so loud that Moore swears you could have heard it in Kingsport.

“That might be fun to do at Christmas,” he said, looking at her.

Between them, on the coffee table, a Christmas cactus droops. It hasn’t bloomed yet. Moore said it looks as if the buds could pop through any minute now.


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