Page 25: Sorry…don’t come here for help!

Joe and Sharon were back at the house.  Joe went back to his room again and laid down, trying to get Tessie and the accident out of his mind. 
Sharon told Christa everything that happened on their walk.  It had been a tough week.  Joe was not getting better.  Christa decided to call Dr. Spitzack.  When the receptionist told her that he wasn’t available, she said it was an emergency.  The receptionist paged Dr. Spitzack, and he took Christa’s call.

“Dr. Spitzack…I don’t know what to do.  Joe’s memory loss is worse than I had imagined.  I think he needs to come back in.  He’s so frustrated and angry that I’m afraid he’s getting depressed again, but this time it’s because of not being able to remember.”

“Mrs. Aden, I wish that I could help you, but Joe is no longer my patient.  He was referred by the county clinic, we’ve provided the recommended treatment, and now he is out of our care.”

“Are you kidding me?” Christa felt the anger rising inside of her.  “Doctor, you said if we had any questions, that we should call you.”

“Mrs Aden, as I explained to you before, there’s no explanation for Joe’s memory loss.  In fact, I can only ascertain that Joe is faking this, possibly for attention.  There’s nothing more that I can help you with.”  And with that Dr. Spitzack ended the conversation by hanging up the phone.
FACT:  Joe’s doctor Thought that Joe was “acting” like he lost his memory.  When Joe’s mother called back for help, even though they said to call if they needed help, the doctor referred to the county clinic.

Page 24: Go Away Little Girl

Joe and Sharon were both silent as they slowly walked back to the house.  As they passed the apple orchard, the memory of Tessie came to Joe as clear as day.  Joe began to speak, retelling the whole accident to Sharon, just as if it was happening right then and there.  

Joe confided in Sharon, “It’s my fault she died, you know. I pushed her, and then I just watched her fall.  She cried, but I didn’t help her.”

Sharon searched for the words to comfort Joe.  “It wasn’t your fault.  Ma said that even if the accident happened on the front lawn of the Mayo Clinic, they wouldn’t have been able to save her, and if they would have, she would have been a vegetable her whole life.”

Sharon hesitated for a moment.  “What I don’t understand, Joe, is how come you remember Tessie and the accident and you can’t remember anything else?”

“I don’t know,” Joe said solemnly, “but I see her, me and the accident in my sleep almost every night, just like it’s right here happening in front of my eyes.”  Joe started to cry again.  “She just won’t go away.”

Page 23: Joe and Michael Jordan

Joe tried to rest, but he was finding it difficult to relax.  He kept seeing himself and Tessie playing in the apple orchard.  The visions and the nightmares wouldn’t stop.  He told Dr. Spitzack about them, but he said eventually they would go away.  Why did he have to remember this, when he couldn’t remember anything else?

Joe’s sister, Sharon, poked her head into Joe’s room.  “Joe, you alright? Mom said you had a rough time at the grocery store.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Joe said.  “Sharon, do you see Tessie or is it just me?”

“Joe, you know Tessie is gone, and she ain’t comin’ back.  It’s OK, it was an accident,” Sharon decided to try and get Joe’s mind off of everything that was bothering him.  “Hey, let’s go for a walk, come on….”

Joe reluctantly got up and put his shoes on.  “Sharon, can you help me tie my shoes?  They showed me in the hospital, but I can’t quite get it.”

Sharon got down on her knees and tied Joe’s shoes for him.  Being seven years younger than her big brother, it was ironic that Sharon was helping Joe tie his shoes.  Just as a mother would teach her little child how to tie a shoe, so Sharon explained the process to Joe. 
“Now, let’s go!”  Out the door the two of them went and they started walking down the driveway and then up the hill on the gravel road that traveled past their house.  “Let’s talk about something that’s fun,” Sharon said enthusiastically.  “How about Michael Jordan?”  Sharon remembered how much Joe loved Michael Jordan.  Joe thought they were “soul brothers” because they had the same birthday, February 17th.  Sharon sometimes secretly wondered if the fact that Michael Jordan retired from basketball to play minor league baseball contributed to some of Joe’s depression. 

Joe didn’t say anything, so Sharon just kept on talking.  As Sharon rambled on and on, Joe stopped dead in his tracks, falling to his knees, shaking his head and clenching his fists.  “Stop, stop!”

“Joe, what’s wrong?” Sharon urgently asked.

“I don’t know who…who did you say?  Michael Jordan?  I don’t know who Michael Jordan is!” Joe was frustrated.  “Don’t you understand? I don’t know…I don’t know…I don’t know anything!”

Sharon dropped to the ground and knelt next to Joe.  “Joe, I’m so sorry.  I thought maybe you would start to remember if I told you all about him.  I’m so so sorry that I upset you.”

Facts:  Joe kept seeing visions and dreaming about Tessie and the accident.  Joe and Michael Jordan share the same birthday.  Michael Jordan was Joe’s hero.

Page 22: Watermelon

Joe saw lots of things on the drive back to Elsmore, none of which were familiar to him, all of which he was afraid of.  He saw big monsters in the field.  Sometimes they were red, sometimes they were green.  He later learned that these “monsters” were tractors and combines, things that he drove on a frequent basis when helping out his parents on the farm.

Christa decided to make a stop at the grocery store before going home.  She would have Joe pick out his favorite foods so that she could fix him the big meals like she used to.  When they arrived at the grocery store, Joe followed Christa in.  Once inside the store, Joe looked at all the different colors and sizes of items sitting on the shelves.

“Joe, would you grab me one of those watermelons?  You’ve always loved watermelon,” Christa said.

Joe looked confused.  He looked around, hoping that he would see something that he knew would be a watermelon.  But he didn’t.  “Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon….” he kept hearing the word over and over in his head until he felt like his head was spinning.  He knew he should know what a watermelon was.  His mom said he loved watermelon…but he didn’t know.  He just didn’t know!  He started to cry.

Christa had gone ahead with the cart, and when she realized that Joe wasn’t behind her, she turned around to see him standing there, frozen, his hands clenched at his side, tears streaming down his face.  “Oh goodness, Joe, what’s wrong?” 

Considerably upset, Joe quietly cried, “I don’t know…don’t know…what’s a watermelon?”  

Tears came to Christa’s eyes as well.  Joe didn’t even know what food was or what food he liked.  She showed him the watermelons.

Joe took his hands and felt the watermelon, and then he picked it up.  “How do you eat this?!”  he asked.
Christa explained that you cut it up, that it is pink inside and that you don’t eat the green shell.  “When we get home, I’ll show you, and you can have some.  You’ll remember when you taste it, I’m sure.”

Making the shopping trip shorter than she had intended so as not to frustrate Joe anymore, Christa quickly grabbed a few more items, checked out and left the grocery store, explaining her every move to Joe so that he would understand.

When they got home, she took the watermelon, cut it up into bite size pieces, put it into a bowl, and gave Joe a fork to eat it with.  He took a bite and chewed it slowly.  It’s what Joe did with every new food he ate, because even though he had eaten it many times before, he couldn’t remember, and he was afraid–afraid of the taste, afraid of what it might do to him.  He had to trust his mom, trust her that this was something he should eat and trust her that he would like it.

He decided he liked the watermelon and took another bite as he refilled his memory with the name and taste of more foods that he liked.

FACT:  Joe didn’t know what a watermelon was and experienced great frustrations over not knowing what certain foods were.
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