Johnny is back on email after the Cur-ville festival. He contacts his bandmates and his former students and gets a disappointing email from a sound engineer he has been working with, who says that he will not work with Johnny professionally anymore. Johnny starts catastrophizing about the end of his career: really, he is hurt because he likes the sound guy a lot and thought all would be forgiven and life would resume as before. Johnny knows — this time he knows — that the loss of work is due to his months long bender.

But work is not all Johnny has lost. On August 23rd, 2013 I ask if we can make a plan to celebrate our first anniversary, two days hence. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow,” he says. I haven’t seen him in person since early June.

The following day he tells me that he cannot walk. Why? Because he kept his shoes on during his entire drinking bout and slept slumped over on the living room love seat with his feet on the floor. Johnny is a big guy: he can’t stretch out on the love seat or elevate his feet.When he finally removes his shoes after the over two months he has been sitting and sleeping there his feet have swollen, are tender and painful. He has consulted a doctor friend who has given him an antibiotic and some cream for his feet. When they do not improve in a week, his friend prescribes a painkiller and tells him he ought to see a podiatrist. Johnny does not invite me to come see him and I do not invite myself.

We will not see each other on our anniversary, which bums me out entirely. What good is it having a sentimental boyfriend if you cannot get together on your anniversary? All we will get to do is talk on the phone, Which we do: we are talking on the eve of our anniversary and decide we will stay up until midnight to commemorate the occasion. At midnight I say “Happy Platform Day”

“Happy Anniversary” says Johnny.

I email him the next morning to request that, since he is sending me a song to listen to every day, that he send me a romantic song for our anniversary. He responds by sending me “Devoted to You” by the Everly Brothers. He suggests that I learn the high part so that we can sing it together.

I never do.

On our anniversary we have another phone conversation in which Johnny says he has been staying up all night and sleeping during the day. His solution for getting back on a daylight working schedule is to drink coffee all day after staying up all night. I suggest instead that he open the curtains to his living room, allow light to come in, and let exposure to light adjust his circadian rhythm. He does not like this idea. And I remember, belatedly, that our chief relationship rule is that we do not tell each other what to do (Like any rule, both of us break this one sometimes, but we try to be mindful of it: we are both strong-willed people, apt to bridle and dig in our heels and to charge if necessary).

Three days after our anniversary I take a fall on brick steps while I am taking out the compost at my house. I have either sprained or fractured my right wrist. I make a medical appointment to have it checked out. The hand doctor does not find a fracture, but six days later, on September 4th, I am unable to play my guitar: playing aggravates my hand, arm and wrist, so I stop playing, stop earning money and start icing, elevating, resting and wrapping my wrist on a regular basis.

Now Johnny can’t walk and I can’t work. He spends hours practicing music and sends me songs to listen to, notes on particular artists and arrangements, reviews of albums. He has moved a small amp into his office so that he can play along with things he finds on the internet. I tell him about a few songs I like as well: James Keelaghan’s “Cold Missouri Waters” and Pierce Pettis’s song “Legacy.”

Johnny’s feet are not getting better. He is soaking his feet regularly and taking ibuprofen and the pain is keeping him up at night. Meanwhile I go to see an acupuncturist about the continued pain and swelling in my right wrist. We are quite a pair.

While we are convalescing and coping with our maladies I start talking to Johnny about the great British guitarist Richard Thompson. I give him lists of songs to listen to and he likes them all. Soon he is finding Thompson documentaries for me to watch. We will revisit Richard Thompson’s music many times down the road. I am pleased that Johnny likes Thompson’s music: Johnny is basically an American roots music specialist, whereas I skew toward music from the British Isles.

Three weeks after my fall I still cannot use my right wrist normally and Johnny’s feet are still swollen, itchy and painful. His friend Jeff, the M.D. who has been advising him and prescribing antibiotic cream, tells him again he ought to see a podiatrist. I know a wonderful podiatrist and surgeon who successfully treated an unresolved ankle sprain of mine after six years of unsuccessful efforts by others. I make an appointment for Johnny to see Dr. Hiatt on Monday September 23rd. I will accompany him to the appointment. I coach Johnny on what he’ll need for the medical exam: a list of all the medications he has been taking, what dosage, how long he has been taking them. I tell him that he must tell Dr. Hiatt the truth about how long he had his shoes on and what he was or was not doing during the period of time before he injured his feet.