We had our first visit with the Neuro-Psychologist today. When we got to the office and this hunched over, kind of gnarly older gentleman with a husky voice came out of his office to invite us in, I could see John flinch. He’s not had great experiences with older male doctors. They tend to make assumptions and not really listen, or at least that has been John’s, very negative, past experience. Hand squeeze and a glance of ‘it will be fine’ and we ventured in to meet with Dr. Dano Leli.
Then he started talking and asking questions, and I started answering and helping John when he got stuck and I was told off. A lot. Apparently, I’m enabling John. I answer questions for him and I help him too much and it’s not helping him. Well, okay. It might be true. Over the past year or so whilst I’ve watched him struggle through life, my job has been to help him and support him and yet now, apparently, that help is hurting him. He talked with John about everything. We have three more of these one hour sessions planned and he wants John to go in next week for an eight hour memory test to see if he has Alzheimer’s or Dementia etc.
He thinks John has PTSD. Never even crossed my mind! Our lives have been relatively calm. Yes, there have been stresses, but nothing catastrophic, but John’s life, prior to my entry into it, was anything but calm. When he was about 8 years old, his parents started drinking. They would start early on a Saturday morning and keep on through the weekend. His mother would beat him with a small wooden, pink, baseball bat when he misbehaved. He was apparently a frequent flyer at the emergency room to the point that the staff there knew his name. I never realized it was that bad. John likes to tell his stories, but always injects an element of humor to them, so they never sound as bad. I guess it’s his way of dealing with the memories, but hearing him tell Dr Leli about this, hit me kind of hard. I never knew it was that bad.
Then, when he was around 25, he was involved in a catastrophic car accident. He was taking his Mum, his wife at the time and his Uncle out on an early morning fishing trip. He had an old Toyota pickup truck with a camper top and his Mum was up front with him and his Wife and Uncle were in the camper bed. They were crossing a bridge at around 6am in the morning and were just reaching the brow of the hill when a woman, heading home from her work at a local strip club, came out of nowhere, on the wrong side of the road travelling at around 80mph and hit them head on. His Uncle was killed instantly. His Wife had a brain injury that left her never the same again. His mother had internal injuries that resulted in her suicide a short while after. John. Well, when the medics showed up on the scene they took one look at him and said “This one’s dead” and John had to reach up and push his jaw into place to make a sound so they noticed him. He broke most every bone in his face and his rib cage was split from side to side. He was in the hospital for quite a while and when he came out he lost, not only his mother, but her entire side of the family who blamed him for the accident. His Wife and he separated a little while after also.
To quote the immortal Billy Mays, but wait, there’s more. In 1988, Hurricane Andrew hit. John was in Homestead when it happened. He got extremely drunk and fell asleep in a chair intending to sleep through it, but was awoken when a 2×4 shot through the wall of his apartment like a toothpick through a piece of paper. He dragged a mattress into the bathroom and climbed into the tub and spent the rest of the night thinking he was going to die. He had three garden nurseries in Miami prior to Hurricane Andrew and he lost all three of them. They were completely devastated.
So, PTSD kind of makes sense. I have some reading to do, I think.