Sick Friends

About three weeks ago, I went to visit my friend Nancy, whom I hadn’t seen since October.  I brought lunch, from Boston Market (I know, I know, not exactly haute cuisine), and when she opened the door, I was shocked.

She’s always been a tiny person (I nicknamed her “Grasshopper”), maybe five feet tall but with a lot of energy and a powerful but diplomatic personality.  But when we hugged at her door, it was like hugging a bunch of toothpicks.  She is emaciated.  Her skin is hanging off her bones in wrinkles that she never had before.  I mean, we all have wrinkles at our age, but these are excessive. 

She has always had eating issues.  She said it was esophageal reflux.  Now I’m not so sure.  I think it might be an eating disorder.  But I have no idea what the hell to do about it.  During lunch she ate heartily, but said she is going to have to have surgery for a hole that has developed between her colon and her vagina (which I think is called a fistula).  She said she’d been taking an antidepressant which made her worse rather than better.  More fearful rather than less, so she kept taking more of it.  Her youngest child had just moved out of the house, She acted so cavalier about that, when it was clear that that was a major issue for her.   

I was traumatized when I left.  I want to help her but I don’t know how to do it.  I don’t know if I can.

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