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Don gets new digs

The Malakoff News of Malakoff, Texas

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MALAKOFF — This column is an update on Don, the birdhouse guy. Some of you may remember that he is the parolee who came to live in a little trailer on my place, and who, with my friend Carl's financial support, set up a sawmill here with a plan to mill cedar logs and make cedar chests and such from them.

In case you didn't follow the story when I was writing about him, I'll recap: Don has a tracheotomy and has to feed himself through-tube, the results of prison doctors curing him of throat cancer but frying his throat in the process. It also left him in constant need of pain medicine.

Through bureaucratic missteps, he was released with no support of any kind and no prescription for the pain medicine that is a basic daily need for him. Luckily, Dr. Sawtelle, who was retiring in less than a month, could read his records and see he needed it, so he wrote the prescription for a month. That saved him while we scrambled to find some doctor who would accept him with some cash from me and the promise of getting him on government assistance programs. He made it through all that, began making cedar chests and even started building an apartment in the end of my workshop so he could work more hours.

Then the parole people decided this was not the place for him and made him move. He ended up in an apartment in Tyler with another ex-inmate. That is where we helped him set up shop to build birdhouses.

That worked for a while. Then he got sick, and the parole people forced him to go into a Tyler nursing home. That worked for a while. He did well and even met a very nice and pretty woman, a patient there, who really enjoyed his company. Then he got into a dispute with the nursing home administrator and was heard saying something rude about her, which caused the nursing home to decide he was crazy and dangerous. So they called the parole people, telling them to get him out of there.

My own nursing home would have taken him if they had given us a few more days to check everything out, but they were in a hurry. Parole people had to do something with him, so they found what they told him was an assisted-living facility in Dallas, where he would get his needs met. It turned out to be a halfway house and not a good one. They sent him without half his meds or his tube-feeding stuff. He mostly existed on milk until Carl and I brought him Osmolite. This was not the right place for him.

Now I am not going to tell you Don is a perfect resident or that he hasn't to some degree contributed to each of his moves. But when he thinks things are wrong, and things were definitely wrong in this place, he starts complaining, writing letters and making phone calls. So pretty soon the halfway house wanted to get rid of him, too.

But this time his luck changed. He was sent to a real assisted-living facility, with the interesting name of "Angel of Hands." It promises to be perfect for him. It is small and run by the owners, a mother and daughter. It is so new it isn't filled yet. I haven't seen it, but the pictures look great. Don shares a nice room with his own fiat screen TV. He says there is a small shop to be used for crafts. The mother checked him in, and Don says she is very kind, down to earth and very sharp.

Both the halfway house and this assisted-living facility are within a 10-minute drive from the VA hospital, where Carl goes fairly often, so it is easy for us to check on him and do errands for him. I hope we will be taking him his birdhouse tools soon.

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Original Publication Date: July 8, 2016

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