Our “As the Spine Surgery Turns” saga now resumes with David just returning from the hospital and settling into Robert’s shocking landfill of a room. Anticipating both David’s return and his father’s visit, I had asked Robert to clean his bedroom, successfully checked it for cleanliness the morning before and, in my haste, asked Robert to change the sheets as a favor to me and his dad. Even knowing my a-month-from-teenaged son as I do, what we found surprised me. Pulling back the quilt to tuck David in bed, I found both the top and bottom sheets “on” somewhere between diagonal and sideways with the fitted corners of the bottom sheet floating in between mattress corners. The bed, floor, and dressers were covered with “Dungeons and Dragons” books and papers and any articles of clothing Robert had worn within the last 24 hours were strewn throughout the room. Embarrassed falls short of describing how I felt. Even though my father-in-law is a very accepting and easy-going guy, as a daughter-in-law, I wanted to make a good impression. I failed miserably.
Despite my shortcomings as a housekeeper, Grandpa was nonjudgmental and was a superb help, particularly with David and with the pint-sized. Although he tried to be a farmer, Daisy, the Boer goat, prevented him from doing so with her a-man's-groin-height sharp horns at every turn. Whether she had a great crush on him and, like young grade school boys everywhere, decided to butt him instead of revealing her true feelings for him, or she had a true and totally unfounded dislike for him, I do not know but Daisy would not let him be. When at last she drew blood, I decided Grandpa’s short farming career had ended. As that afforded him more time with Pint, typically a less dangerous and more entertaining task, I don’t think he minded much.
I could bore you with every detail of the next few days of sleep-deprived nights and pain-filled days, but even if you could bear to hear it, I don’t care to relive it. David is getting better and I think (hope) the worse is over. To prepare you, gentle readers, for a similar situation, I offer these observations and suggestions:
• Because they lack a uterus, men do not handle post-trauma pain well. They might be tough about the day to day stuff but surgery is a whole different ball of ouch. The two main types of men either (a.) revert to their infancy or (b.) become grumpy enough to make short insensitive comments that make their caregivers cry. Guess which man I have. Hint: he’s no baby.
• Doctors should prescribe just as many good drugs to the caregiver as they do to the patient just for nursing (putting up with) said patient.
• Men do not do what they are told to do or not to do, particularly if the person doing the telling is their spouse. You tell them not to overdo, then they disappear on a take-Dad-sightseeing-trip for four hours and hobble home. And the valium is for whom?
• Despite careful lessons from my parents in my toddler years, I do not know how to tie shoes properly. Ask my husband who cannot tie his own sneakers right now but finds fault in the way in which I tighten his laces and perform the tricky double knot maneuver. If you are ever in the same situation, make a pre-emptive strike: Hide the sneakers; offer slip-ons.
• Narcotics shut down the bowels, understandably adding to any pre-existing grumpiness. A man who has spent a good part of his life inexplicably finding all things rectum-related, pardon the pun, a gas, poop or the lack thereof is no longer a laughing matter. Make your life easier and do everything you possibly can to get that colon moving again. You’ll be glad you did. You might even be rewarded by a smile and a clean colon shuffle.
• A well-planned future wine (whine) and cheese night with dear friends is a good thing, Martha, and its anticipation will help you retain what little bit of sanity is hanging on for dear life.
• Finally, the love of a good man and your love for him is a gift not to be taken lightly, and it will pull you through all challenges. Remember that when you are ready to hit the love of your life over his head with an iron skillet.