Chapter Ten: A New Year

The calendar turned to 2011 and it had now been a decade since Allison first showed signs of Huntington’s Disease. She was about halfway through the clinical trials with Dr. Rosas, and there was no way of knowing whether the investigative drug was helping her. We still did not know if she was receiving a placebo or the real thing. I deviously thought of having a packet tested at a lab, but that would be cheating. I would never compromise Dr. Rosas’ trial. She had been too good to us.

Dr. Rosas increased Allison’s valproic acid (depakote) dose slightly, which resulted in myoclonic seizures. I left her a voice message asking if I should go back to her old dose. I did not know that Dr. Rosas was in Texas attending her father’s funeral. She called me back from Texas and told me to reduce the dose. I have such great respect for this woman as a doctor and as a person.

In March Allison was chosen to represent the nursing home at an event at Fenway Park honoring Huntington’s Disease patients. It was hosted by Bill “Spaceman” Lee, a zany Red Sox pitcher from the 1970’s. Allison had a grand time, and an autographed picture of Bill and Allison adorns our piano at home.

In June, Caleb left his internship to attend medical school at the University of Massachusetts. Allison would really miss Caleb. He was replaced by a young lady whom I believe was named Erica. We were still cheerfully greeted by her after signing in at the security desk. The visits were like past visits except that I was now pushing Allison in her transport chair.

After Allison’s first visit, Dr. Rosas suspected she might have a urinary tract infection and asked the nursing home to test and treat if necessary. She did have a UTI which was successfully treated. Allison was still very much continent but the nursing home folks had put pullups on her because taking her to the bathroom had become a chore.

July 2011 brought about another visit from Midge, but with a new twist. This time Bob drove her up from Georgia. We hadn’t seen Bob since we left Georgia in 2006. They joined us on a trip to see Dr. Rosas in Boston. We went to a circus which had set up its tent in the parking lot of the Berkshire Mall. Allison stayed with them for one night at their hotel. We went out to eat a lot. Jimmy’s Pizza Royale was Bob’s favorite. After visiting for a week, Bob drove them back to Georgia.

In August we celebrated Allison’s 29’th birthday and in September went to the fair. We went to Fenway Park to see the Sox lose to the Rays as part of their historic collapse that year. We were in front row seats in the right field handicapped section and Allison had her picture taken with the Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster.  September also marked the start of Allison’s sixth year at the home and of playing Virtual Families on her computer.

October 2011 was a very difficult and sad month. I had taken Maggie to her vet in September for her annual exam and vaccinations. They gave her three shots, which turned out to be ill advised. Two weeks later, she became ill with an immunodeficiency disorder, a reaction to being over vaccinated. For three weeks, I drove her to the vet twice a day for interferon and steroid injections. She seemed to rally a couple of times, but in the end the treatments were in vain. Maggie passed away just shy of her fifth birthday. I had bonded with her like no other dog and missed her companionship dearly. I quickly adopted Clancy, a black dachshund rescue from Georgia. On October 31st, I drove to Hyde Park to pick Clancy up in the midst of a freak autumn snowstorm.  Clancy and I braved about twenty inches of snow to join Bronson and Bosley in Stephentown. The next day I took him to the nursing home to meet Allison.