May 21, 2024

Idiopathic idiot

By Curt Swarm

The neurologist gave me the diagnosis I didn’t want to hear: “Severe Idiopathic Neuropathy.” I pretended to know what he meant. Ginnie, the lab-tech, told me later that “idiopathic” simply means the condition arises spontaneously, cause unknown. Great. Neuropathy is a pain or tingling in the feet or hands and can be accompanied with balance issues. I didn’t have pain or tingling, but my legs did feel like stumps at times, and I was definitely having balance issues. There is no cure for Neuropathy, the condition worsens over time, and it may be hereditary. I was advised to start using a cane (yeah, right), and that I should notify my kids of the condition.

I had been through every test, poke, prod and thump imaginable: EKG, ultrasound (heart and carotids), echocardiogram, CT scan, MRI (brain), blood work, pin poke (actual and electronic), and reflex-hammer bump. When my pulse was determined to be too low, a pacemaker was implanted in my chest. I thought that would cure the vertigo, but noooo. The pacemaker did stop my near-fainting episodes when I stood up too fast, but not the vertigo. Neuropathy seemed to be the evil culprit.

I ‘spose I should be thankful that I don’t have Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, or something worse. After all, I am going on 76. Being a former marathoner and triathlete, I’m not accustomed nor did I expect to ever be using a cane. Geesh. I did go so far as to dig Ginnie’s two canes out of the attic. (She’d had a hip replacement.) The canes are hanging by their hooks in the kitchen, in case I decide to use them. I practiced walking with one of those canes. It does feel good. But for now, the canes are hanging silently, waiting knowingly for the inevitable.

Then I came home to a computer hack. Ginnie and I were watching one of the late evening NCAA Basketball Tournament games. I received a Facebook Messenger message from a distant friend, asking for my phone number. I figured he wanted to call me. So, with one eye on the game, I gave him my phone number. Then he (or she) asked for something strange, like a code number from Facebook. Like an idiot, still trying to watch the game, I gave him this code. Kerblewy! Facebook crashed and so did my world. A notice went out to all 2,500 of my Facebook “friends” that my father had passed away, (my father died 30 years ago) and that I was selling a whole bunch of his possessions, cheap. I tried to take the notice down but was locked out of my account. I started getting calls like, “Hey Curt, I’m coming to pick up your dad’s car I just bought through PayPal.” My daughter even had someone come to her door looking for the trailer he bought. Good grief. I notified the sheriff’s department and Facebook. There didn’t seem to be much they could do. I changed passwords and got my account back up and running. I apologized profusely to all of my “friends.” Then the advertisements for my late dad’s possessions reappeared. I could see on Facebook Messenger where the hacker, disguised as me, had been communicating with my Facebook friends. I reported the problem to Facebook. They suspended my account.

Feeling dirty and violated, I appealed the suspension. I had to take a selfie video of myself proving who I was. I looked at the image of myself in the phone and wondered if I really wanted to get back on Facebook. My image argued back, “You post your ‘Empty Nest’ column on Facebook, and that’s where a lot of people read it.”

As of right now, thanks to the help of a computer “guru,” my Facebook page is up and running again with new passwords, and is locked down tight (I hope). If you get a “friend” request from me, you might wonder if it’s really me, or some hacker. Between my neuropathy and gullibility, just call me the idiopathic idiot.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com