Sunday, May 24, 2020
It started out promising ...
America has been having problems. My dear friends Henry and Reg have been having problems. But I have faith that we -- all of us! -- will be OK. And to prove it, I booked a room at a new-to-me bed-and-breakfast. I've passed it a million times and love the history of this place. There's been a hotel on that spot since 1885!
When Henry called me last night, I was excited to share the news. He claimed he couldn't remember which hotel I was referring to. I thought maybe it was his TBI playing tricks on him. But no, I don't think that's what it is.
Henry only wants to talk about Henry. He got a hair cut yesterday. I asked him if he wore his mask the whole time and he said yes, and so did the stylist. He told me that he expects to be called back to his job at the library soon, but he's frightened. This surprised me, because he's spent so much energy bemoaning his medical leave. He told me with -- tremendous gravity -- that three people in Key West have died from the virus
"Did you know them?" I asked. I thought maybe that's why he thought three was such a staggering number.
"No. But do not worry. I am being careful. So is Reg."
"I'm not worried about you, Honey, I'm worried about me. I live in a hot spot. When I go back to work, it will be in a city where 3000 people died."*
"Oh. That is too bad. I think Reg is sick of me. I am tired of being cooped up with someone who is sick of me ..."
It occurred to me that it didn't matter to Henry who he was talking to. This is upsetting. Not because of our friendship: he had an accident and a resulting brain injury. It is what it is. I am committed to this relationship, come what may.
But Henry's mental condition is deteriorating. He was able to talk about things other than himself five months ago, when we were all together at Christmas. I remember specific conversations about former coworkers and about movies. I don't think he could have those conversations today.
It's hard to watch this because I feel helpless. The one who holds the key to Henry's treatment is Reg. He needs to get Henry to a neurologist who can assess Henry's condition as it is now -- 19 months after the accident -- and review his medications. There isn't a doctor who can do that in Key West, they would have to go to Miami. But with neither of them working, with the pandemic restrictions on travel, it's too hard for Reg to set this in motion.
And there's this: something is stopping him. I think it's Boiling Frog Syndrome. You know how it goes. If a frog is dropped into boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put the frog in warm water that is slowly brought to boil, he'll be cooked to death. Spending 24/7 with Henry, day after day, I'm not sure Reg has noticed Henry's creeping egocentrism.
Oh, how I miss my old friend, Henry!
*I lied for effect. The actual number for Cook County is 2,889.