I have a friend who I will call Roy. He is a Covid victim, without actually having had the virus. He is blind, a retired academic who lost his wife to dementia some years ago. Before the pandemic he had regular visitors, attended events, went on holidays and to concerts with sighted friends, generally enjoying a better quality of life than many without his disability.
Then in March 2020 all that changed. His daughter came to stay, like most of us thinking this would be for a short time. She is a high powered professional, but adjusted her work to carry on from home. Roy was not one of the people told to fully shield, but he did so anyway. At first, he would have a good daily walk in a very quiet area, accompanied by his daughter. After a few months even that stopped, and apart from medical visits neither he or his daughter have left the house or had any visitors, even on the doorstep, for over a year. Everything is delivered and left outside. A friend made a shepherds pie and left it outside. It was thrown away in case it carried the virus.
I have visited him for years to read and do bits of admin. The reading was changed to phone calls until this month when we have resumed home visits. Everyone else is delighted, except Roy who wants to keep only telephone contact. He has become obsessed with his health. I have lost count of the tests, scans and surgical procedures he has had in the last 18 months, all finding nothing of concern. This week alone he has 3 appointments at different hospitals. I can only imagine that his daughter has considerable clout through her work, when we hear of the huge NHS backlog.
All the inactivity is taking a toll on his balance and energy. He fell over and knocked himself out, leading to even more tests. He has an exercise bike, but won’t use it in case he sprains something.
My dilemma involves keeping my mouth shut. I know the pandemic has been horrendous, I have taken all reasonable precautions and followed the rules. My friend, like me, had all his jabs, and we spoke about the hope it gave for all of us. For him though, nothing has changed. I can’t understand why he is like this. I feel he has allowed the virus to take his life away from him anyway.
He knows I have struggled with depression and anxiety, although I have not gone into much detail. I suppose I could have a gentle word, hinting that maybe getting help for underlying anxiety would be wise. Again though I question my own motives.
I know that it is none of my business. If he has chosen to spend the remainder of his life as a prisoner in his own home, how can that bother me so much? It has brought me face to face with an aspect of myself that I don’t like. I have friends whose lifestyles are unorthodox, unhealthy, immoral and I have no desire to comment. This is probably because they reflect aspects of myself, past or present. What then gives me the right to feel offended by my friend’s behaviour? Inside I want to give him a “good talking to” but I know he would have every right to tell me to **** off. Actually, he would never do that. He loves that I happily read stuff to him that contains rudeness and swearing, but he once apologised for saying “bugger” in my presence.
Now I am welling up. He is a lovely lovely man, someone who has coped with problems that would destroy me. If he wants to admit defeat, give up, I should be saying he has earned that right.
Please Moodscopers, tell me to shut up, zip it, keep my nose out, stop being a nosy busybody, whatever comes to you. I could do with a good talking to.
A Moodscope member.