Physical Illness Strikes Memoryland



The laryngitis I had a month ago morphed into a hacking cough and a lot of congestion. For the next miserable, rainy week or so I grocery shopped and attended meetings I’d committed to—mostly at night and at least an hour away in Atlanta—then crawled home and let HGTV put me to sleep.

Finally after I went to the doctor who gave me a prescription. But it took another ten days, plus a change in prescription before I started feeling better. Meanwhile I had no choice but to take to my bed. What part burnout might have played is food for another post, but I had to let Ralph to fend for himself.

And he fended fine. He was very concerned. VERY concerned, in a way he never would have been when he was cognitively sound, sound. He worried aloud, What would I do without my Alice to take care of me.

Ever ten minutes he came into the bedroom to ask me if I was okay and if I needed anything. Usually I was trying to sleep actually and wished he would just leave me alone, but his heart was in the right place. He even brought me tea and toast. He ate sandwiches and the chicken soup I had (brilliantly if I say so myself) decided to make the day before I started feeling really bad. For several nights he slept in another room to avoid contagion, which was frankly also a nice respite because I wasn’t wakened during the night by his talking in his sleep.

And then the Saturday before Thanksgiving, as family began to drive up, I started to feel like myself. Hurray.

…We will skip over most of the details of the nine-day Thanksgiving we just completed this morning. Let’s just say that seven adults (all either related or married and all good at bickering), one teenager and a coughing, sneezing two-year-old trapped in a house twenty minutes from restaurants and shopping is not the best plan for holiday cheer….

Which brings us to today, or actually to the day before yesterday when Ralph started sneezing and coughing. Although so many people crowded into the house was difficult for him, Ralph loved being Bop to BabyBop and turned out to be something of a toddler whisperer, able to get BabyBop to eat when no one else could. The problem is that BabyBop is never without his germs and likes to share his food and drink with those he loves, like his Bop.

Or maybe I’m just trying to deflect responsibility since I am probably the one who got Ralph sick.

Because he is now the one in bed. And now I am the one going into the bedroom every hour or so to check if he is okay or needs anything, and he is the one saying LET ME SLEEP. A few minutes ago I told him that now I understood how he felt two weeks ago, and we laughed together at the role reversal.

Actually, he doesn’t have a fever the way I did, isn’t coughing as much as he was a day ago, and isn’t congested. But he is tired and feels as if he has a cold. This is the first time he’s had a physical problem in all the years since his cognitive impairment was diagnosed. And my reaction is different than it would have been pre-diagnosis. I realize he can’t take care of a relatively mild cold himself. I have to be around to make sure he drinks liquids and eats something and takes decongestants in a way. He is like a sick seven year old. Sweet and helpless.

And for the first time I have had to tell my daughter I can’t help her out of a babysitting jam because I can’t leave Ralph.

It’s not a big deal in a way, not leaving my husband alone when he has a cold, but it feels like a harbinger of things to come….

Oh no, I hear Ralph’s truck starting up. I would bet he is heading to the store for cigarettes (which he has not been smoking for obvious reasons). I better go catch him.

8 thoughts on “Physical Illness Strikes Memoryland

  1. So, DH did the cooking and organizing for our Thanksgiving meal. I’m pleasantly surprised. What this means medically for his MCI I don’t know. His brother joined us for the meal.
    The day before the meal we were grumbling at each other every step of the way.
    What do you know, we rounded that bend just fine, this time.
    DH had told me just last week that he didn’t want to take his supplements I have so religiously set out twice per day. So now I just set them out and don’t say anything. And he still has decided to take them without any prodding from me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are clearly doing something right! It is so lovely when the person we think we have to caregiver steps up and takes care of us or him/herself or both. And a little domestic grumbling makes life feel more natural. Thanks for writing


  2. I hope you caught him on time! Sorry you’ve been so poorly. It sounds like you had it a lot rougher than Ralph. And didn’t I tell you he would bond with the baby? Lovely to read about him being a baby whisperer.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry to hear that you and Ralph are tossing some kind of bug back and forth. I’ve had bronchitis for 3 weeks and gifted it to my wife just in time for the holidays!
    Feel better.
    Heading Somewhere

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, I am able to get a glimpse from time to time of my husband being the one who is taking care of me. Its like looking through a photo album of sweets pasts and, for just a moment, I feel the pleasing feeling of being a partner again.

    Liked by 2 people

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