Over the years, I’ve watched a variety of soap operas, especially in the summer when I was on vacation from school. In college, I followed ABC’s lineup of All My Children, One Life to Live (both of which are about to be cancelled), and General Hospital. Recently, I’ve resumed watching an old favorite, Days of Our Lives, to see how the main families, the Hortons and the Bradys, are doing. One of the current main plotlines is an old standby—the evil twin scenario. In this case, good guy Rafe has been kidnapped by evil Stefano and replaced with a double who had plastic surgery to make him look exactly like Rafe. For weeks, no one—not even his wife—seemed to realize that fake Rafe wasn’t the real thing, despite the crazed look in his eyes and inappropriate comments he made that the true Rafe would never say. Fortunately, the real Rafe was able to escape his captors to come home and explain what had happened to him. Of course, Rafe’s family and friends were delighted to have the real deal return and say farewell to the imposter who had not only duped them but had also caused various problems during his stay.
The past several weeks with Alex have felt somewhat like life in the soap opera evil twin scenario as his demeanor changed from its usual happy and energetic to irritable and lethargic. Like faux Rafe, the Alex who has been living with us recently looks like our son, but his behavior, facial expressions, and comments are a little off, making us suspect that something isn’t quite right. Instead of dashing around the house enthusiastically, this new and unimproved Alex lay on the couch sullenly most of the day, refusing to talk and often keeping his eyes closed or covered with his hand. Moreover, our Alex loves to eat and go places; this Alex refused to eat at times and couldn’t seem to muster the energy to get up and go anywhere. As I explained last month in a blog entry, “Modifications,” we took Alex to a chiropractic internist who ran several tests on Alex that came back normal (as I explained in another blog entry, “Results”), but he suspected that Alex was in allergic shutdown mode and recommended some supplement changes to alleviate the symptoms. Through the years and under the guidance a wonderful family physician, I learned to start only one new intervention with Alex at a time so that we could know what was helping, or in some cases, even making him worse. After considering the various suggestions the chiropractor made, I decided the most important new supplement to try was one for allergies that contains an anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid, quercetin. While Alex’s improvements have been gradual, we do think the new supplement is helping him because we have seen less of faux Alex and more of real Alex lately.
Through careful observations, here is a comparison/contrast between Alex and his “evil twin.”
REAL ALEX eats all of his food happily; EVIL TWIN barely eats if at all and sometimes acts as though the food he’s been given is garbage.
REAL ALEX bounces through the house with high energy; EVIL TWIN lies on the couch all day, too tired to do anything except watch television.
REAL ALEX smiles and laughs most of the day; EVIL TWIN grimaces and mutters under his breath, mainly about not wanting to use his typewriter or play Monopoly Junior, neither of which he’s done in years.
REAL ALEX enjoys grooming routines such as brushing his teeth, combing his hair, and shaving; EVIL TWIN wants nothing to do with any of these tasks and must be cajoled to participate in basic hygiene.
REAL ALEX loves going places and jumps up eagerly to get going; EVIL TWIN doesn’t want to do anything that involves leaving the comfort of his bed or the couch.
Thankfully, just as Rafe on Days of Our Lives was able to escape from his captivity, Alex seems to be emerging from the walls allergies likely put around him. Last weekend we were able to take him downtown to the farmers’ market, a Corvette show, and the Soap Box Derby, and he handled all of these situations well. With time, we pray that he will continue to improve and overcome whatever has been making him moody and listless so that we can forever say farewell to the double who has been taking his place lately; we much prefer his good twin who makes us happy through his contentment.
“Why did you slip away secretly? Why did you deceive me? And why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? I would have given you a farewell feast, with singing and music, accompanied by tambourines and harps.” Genesis 31:27