Friday, December 01, 2023

This afternoon I went to Massachusetts

I actually went to the movies. The Holdovers is a very entertaining film. It's set in an expensive boarding school, circa 1970, and Christmas in Massachusetts looks beautiful.

It's about the students and staff that are left behind over holiday break. As the movie unfolds, we discover more and more about the three main characters. The school's cafeteria lady has the story we learn first -- this is her first Christmas without her son, who was killed in Vietnam. The students and the professor are revealed more slowly. It held my attention every step of the way.

I love my local theater. It not only offers a variety of movies, they have replaced the conventional theater seats with absolutely fabulous recliners.

The Continuing Saga of St. Reg

 My darling Henry has been in surgery twice this week! Brain surgery! Doctors detected an embolism on his brain and had to drill into his skull to relieve the pressure. 

How did we get here? Let me bring you up to date. Before dawn on Thanksgiving, the police found Henry nude, banging on his neighbor's door, demanding in Spanish to see his brother Raul (who lives in Puerto Rico and hasn't visited Florida in five years). 

This is not Henry's fault. In October 2018, he collided with a truck and sustained a traumatic brain injury. He didn't get the aftercare prescribed -- partly because Key West doesn't have extensive medical facilities but mostly because his husband Reg believed he knew best. Their situation became more dire as their finances and Henry's health suffered and this summer, they had to sell their home and move from Key West to Ft. Lauderdale. Unmoored, Henry had a pair of progressively more serious grand mal seizures. These days, on a good day, he can't use his phone or shave on his own, but he can converse, even though he is unsure of where he is or what year it is. On bad days, he can't control his bodily functions, requires a diaper, and doesn't recognize his husband.


Recovery from these seizures was complicated by Henry's continued alcohol abuse. Reg continued to have liquor in their home and, frankly, must have known Henry was consuming it. The doctors told Reg he has been "a failure as a caregiver." A caseworker was assigned. But in Ft. Lauderdale, as in Key West, Reg is not cooperating fully because he insists he knows what is best for his husband.


In November, Henry began slipping out in the dark without Reg's knowledge, searching for Raul. The first time, when neighbors called the police, Henry, disoriented and wearing shit-stained underwear, was returned to Reg. On Thanksgiving morning, he was nude, and the police took him into custody. The Ft. Lauderdale apartment complex has put Reg on notice: this has to stop, or they will be evicted. 


It was while Henry was in the psych ward that doctors became concerned by the bruises on his arms and hips. These bruises are consistent with falls. That's how the embolism was discovered. They do not suspect physical abuse, but since Reg is not aware of what happens to Henry while he sleeps -- or sleeps it off -- they think Henry has been falling out of bed or on the cement stairs outside their apartment and sustained a head injury. Hence the embolism.


So my friend, one of the most loving people I have met in my life, is in a hospital where they are drilling into his skull. This is not fair. This is not right. I have no resources or authority to intervene. All I can do is watch, pray, love him, and try to manage my own reactions.


What I have posted above is the truth. It is not what most of Henry's friends know, though. They are only aware of the version Reg has shared on Facebook.


1. Reg lovingly made a traditional Thanksgiving feast, but he had to dine alone. Henry had become "aggressive" and was taken away by police.


2. Henry's embolism has gone unnoticed by clueless doctors who incorrectly prescribed "anti-psychotic drugs." Hence Henry's unpredictable behavior.


3. Reg is exhausted by being his husband's protector these past five years but swears he will remain vigilant about managing the care Henry receives on "my watch."


No mention of the detrimental effects of Henry's isolation and alcoholism. Not a word about Henry's nighttime escapes. Not even a word about Henry's condition. Is my friend critical? Stable? Fair? I have no idea. I know that Reg is wallowing in self-pity, but I don't know how Henry is.


Thank you for reading this post. Writing it has helped me refrain from picking up the phone and saying things to Reg that cannot be forgotten or taken back. 


Photo by JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash