Hank arrived at Medical Records promptly at 8, as soon as they opened. Marion’s records hadn’t been copied so he accepted the offer to review them in a cubicle. He was told that he could copy whatever he wanted at the copying machine. Marion had enjoyed robust health until she contracted the pseudo-cancer fungal infection. Someone with indecipherable handwriting had the good grace to attribute the diagnosis of the fungal infection to him. He allowed himself a triumphant smirk, pushed his ball cap back on his forehead so he could see better, leaned forward and settled in.
He remembered the pain she’d been in and his fear that no one would be able to help her. He’d raised holy hell at the emergency room when her pain increased to the point that she was crying. He had yelled at the ER doctor, “You can help her and YOU WILL, NOW!” They’d scurried around in circles until they’d found the goddamn morphine on a pole. They’d sent her home with a fentanyl patch, convinced she had cancer, and prescriptions for a pile of pills. Seeing her in that much pain scared him. He hadn’t been able to get to the drugstore fast enough to fill those prescriptions. He’d wanted to protect her from suffering. After they’d returned from Mayo and the pills were moved from the kitchen counter to the medicine cabinet, life became familiar once again. He had a vague recollection of her telling him that despite the cure, she felt that life was slipping out of her. It was nothing she could pinpoint. She was depressed for a while. He figured she was exhausted from the ordeal, that she’d be fine with rest and return to her normal routine.
Her routine had not returned to normal. It happened so gradually that he hadn’t noticed. She’d withdrawn from friends and activities. Her medical record was stuffed full of appointments he couldn’t recall. He had no idea that she’d been spending so much time at the doctor’s. He was shocked the first time he saw it, “seeking drugs”. In the first act of dishonesty in his adult life, he began removing pages as he read references to drugs or “drug seeking behavior”. He questioned other events in their lives. He wondered if Marion had fallen off the ladder, resulting in a head injury, because of drug induced impairment. If only he’d paid attention. How could he have missed the monumental changes in her? She’d tried to tell him, he was sure of it. He’d told her on more than one occasion, “Don’t worry, we’re just getting older. At least we’re doing it together, in good company.” Sweet Jesus. He’d missed it.