I’ve lost track how many days have passed since I had to stop writing a post because Ralph was heading off in his truck. I didn’t catch him but he was back in fifteen minutes. He had headed to his office for a pack of cigarettes. He smoked one, had a beer and went back to bed.
He followed the same routine for the next six days: in bed most of the day until shortly before supper. Each afternoon he smoked one cigarette and has one beer and then ate a hearty meal before a second cigarette and back to bed. During the day I brought him turkey soup, glasses of water, cups of tea, and cold medicine. He coughed occasionally but not that much. He blew his nose when I reminded him it might be a good idea. When I asked him if he felt better or if the cold seemed to be going away, he considered before answering yes, he did feel better. But every day when I suggested it might be nice to take a hot shower or sit up a bit he said, “In a bit. I’m resting now.”
On Friday, concerned that maybe I was missing something, I called his doctor to see if he should start an antibiotic since his smoking might make him more vulnerable. I was told that his symptoms as I described them didn’t warrant antibiotics. Yesterday was rainy so I didn’t even suggest getting out of bed, hoping a little extra babying would get him over the hump.
And sure enough he slept through the night without a cough or sniffle (irksome since I’m still coughing myself awake). This morning I told him I was meeting a friend for a quick breakfast and running a couple of errands I put off yesterday.
“Are you sure you’re up to it?”
“Up to what? I’m just having breakfast and going to the drugstore and ATM.”
“I thought you were sick.”
“No, you’re the one who has been sick with a cold this week.”
“Oh right, I forgot.”
“So you’re getting over your cold.”
“Yea, I think I am.” He nodded. “I feel better.”
When I got home two hours later, he was still in bed. I suggested a shower. He thought about it.
“In a bit. I’m resting now.”
After he ate lunch, I again suggested he take a shower. “It’s a sunny, warm day and a little fresh air wouldn’t hurt,” I cajoled.
“In a bit. I’m resting now.”
The thing is. I don’t think he’s down to the last remnants of his cold. I also think that the drastic cut in his intake of nicotine, caffeine and beer is affecting his energy level; he’s probably in a kind of withdrawal, which is obviously a good thing in that maybe he won’t go back to as many cigarettes or beers a day, but meanwhile my instinct tells me that if we’re not careful this total non-activity could become the newest normal.
But what if I am misreading the situation. What if I am being cold and heartless. Fortunately he’s got an Emory appointment which means 1., he has to get out of bed and 2., I’ll find out if I’m wrong and he’s actually sick.
Still, this is another glimpse of the future when determining what Ralph’s capability—how hard to push him and when to let him be—will be increasingly difficult.