Thursday, June 13, 2019

I miss romance

No "restless flames" for me or my buds
As I get older, my friends' problems become more health related than romantic. For a worrier like me, this is especially, well, worrisome.

My oldest friend had "an outpatient procedure" related to her bladder. For the last three years, she's suffered from incontinence. Not a few drops when she sneezed or coughed. This was a real problem. Plus she's been struggling with repeat UTIs. So she was glad to have the procedure, even though now she "hurts like hell" and will be walking like John Wayne for a while. I know there's a second step, a second procedure, recommended, but she doesn't seem to want to discuss it. Lately our emails have been frothy affairs, which is fine. She battles depression and if she wants to keep it light, we shall.

My friend John is ill. The good news is that he's being treated at Northwestern, recently ranked one of the top 10 cardiology programs in the nation. The bad news is that he's 63 (64 next month) and has suffered from congenital heart disease for a decade now. Since March, he's taken a turn for the worse. He can't breathe and he tires easily. Also, he continues to lose weight. John says he has no interest in food since being diagnosed as diabetic back in 2016.

The doctors had wanted to implant a pacemaker 10 years ago, when he was first diagnosed. He refused. He expected them to insist on one now, but in 2019, they're not so sure a device is still the right course of treatment for him. He made it through his first round of tests, which resulted in his meds being adjusted. Next up is an angiogram.

He needs to improve his diet ... and incorporate exercise into his day ... and begin taking immunizations for shingles, flu and pneumonia more seriously ... When he was telling me all this, I wanted to scream. FUCK TO THE YES, YOU HAVE TO DO THOSE THINGS! I love him. I can't imagine my life without him. How can he be so cavalier with his life? I am working hard to not let him see how frustrated and frightened I am.

Henry and Reg are exhausting.  Henry, who nearly died last October after a terrible traffic accident, complains that Reg treats him "like a child," wants to keep him dependent, and is more and more impatient and short tempered with each passing day. I can see where all of that could be true. But, with Henry's traumatic brain injury, maybe it's not true. That's the challenge: I have to listen and support him and treat him like an equal, never knowing if what he's saying to me is truth or fantasy.

His husband, Reg, takes to social media to bitch and moan about their lives. According to him, Henry can be unreasonable and temperamental and requires constant attention. Is this accurate? I don't know, but I believe it feels true to Reg. That's not what disturbs me.

It's that he seems to need to use GoFundMe and Facebook to reach a big audience for his two shows a day of martyrdom. I have told Reg, more than once, that when Henry inevitably finds these posts he will consider them a massive betrayal and invasion of his privacy. Reg says, "I don't care. I can't care," meaning he needs this outlet for his stress and pain.

"Read about TBI!" he keeps telling me. You think I haven't?

When I do my Reg-required TBI reading, I see again and again that both the patient and caregiver should be in counseling. Neither of them is. Henry doesn't go because there's nothing wrong with him. He denies he ever had a brain injury. The problem is everyone who treats him "like a child." Reg isn't in counseling because he doesn't "have time."

I know how they each must be struggling. I appreciate how far Henry has come in his recovery, and accept that, if this is our new normal, I will adapt because I love him.

But I do not belong in their marriage. What I am about to say is ugly but it's true: sometimes I dread their calls and messages.

Can you see why I miss the good old days when my late night phone calls centered around, "Why doesn't he looooove me?"