What’s on your Christmas-- I mean election list? I think it’s pretty safe to say we all have things - a list of them - in the back of our minds that we’d like to have taken care of. Pacifists, activists, regular-Joes, we all have wishes - things we’d like to see put into action. Things we want. Many look forward to that day - Election Day - when we get to let everybody know what we’re hoping to be written under that all-powerful seal of our government this year. Which Santa Clause-- I mean candidate are you voting for?
Me, I have just one thing I want.
All I want this Election Day…
Is my husband to be well.
Attention lawmakers, you have my vote if you could make a law that says men can never get sick. It’s not asking a whole lot - I just want my life back to normal. Pot-holes, income tax; I can take those. Watching as we went from the ‘in health’ bit to the ‘in sickness’ part is what’s got me down. It happened faster than you can say ’in good times and bad.’ And if the man doesn’t go back to work before to much more time passes we’re going to be hitting on ’for poorer’ real quick.
I get sick, not him. I break my wrist and have surgery. I end up in the hospital with severe pneumonia. I have migraines. I have babies. He goes to work. Not matter what little bug he’s got, not matter what injury he’s bearing, no matter what. No Band-Aids. No Tylenol. No doctors. Work. Work. Work.
I learned a long time ago to pick my battles on these things. I only win if he’s on death’s doorstep and at that point who's counting points? It’s just the way he is. I love that he works so hard to support us. I love being a stay at home mom. I love that he takes care of me when I’m sick.
But I hate it when he’s sick.
He hates it even more. It puts him out of his element; his comfort zone. And it takes a pretty mean ticket to knock this man off his feet.
The evil tide came in on Sunday. It hit the high-water mark about the time I answered his call saying he was on his way home from helping his brother and was not feeling good at all. The warning bells in my wifely brain started dinging; loud and foreboding. The tone is his voice scared me more than his words. He just doesn’t get sick. Did I say that already? I tried to convince him to pull over and I would come get him. But more so even that going to work, it takes a hurricane of an issue to keep the man from driving. I paced the floor.
The noxious waves broke over our little family in the uneven beat of his staggering steps through the front door forty-five minutes later. I reeled at the force of the gale. My tall, broad shouldered husband was hunched over holding his left elbow, which was now the size of a small grapefruit. He swore he didn’t injure it. It just started swelling up in the afternoon. One look at his flushed face and I knew he was burning up with a fever. The man just doesn’t get sick, do you understand?
Armor on, I announced we were going to ER. He didn’t have the strength to fight me. He would have if he’d been able. I thanked Heaven when his mother came bustling in a short time later and scooped our now scared and tearful children into her experienced mothering arms. My husband was trying valiantly to rally and drum up the gumption to force his case of, “I’m fine, I just need to go to bed.” But about the time he called his mother and I ‘swooping vultures’ I knew he’d lost his ability to reason. For the record, he must have been delirious.
I drove him to the hospital. This was a first in seven years of marriage. I was scared to death. That is, I was until I noted that he was still alive enough to tell me how to drive. How the man could tell exactly what turn we were on and the level of danger of hitting a deer in that spot while lying back in his seat, eyes closed and in obvious pain, I have no idea. But believe me, he could. That was reassuring in a very distressing, disturbing sort of way.
It got dicey in the hospital parking lot. I almost didn’t get him out of the car. Again, once in the registration room I thought he might just get up and leave. As I was answering the barrage of questions ranging from personal info to health history I wondering vaguely how he had remembered all these things about me when the tables were turned. A slightly cartoon-ish vision crossed my mind of him sweeping his languishing wife (me, only daintier and long white dress-y-er) into his arms, driving recklessly fast to the hospital, silencing the receptionist with a single look as he throws open the double doors into the patient care unit. Once he lays me gently on a pristine, white hospital bed in a room with gorgeous flowers and a fresh pot of fabulous smelling coffee my imaginary knight grabs the nearest doctor by the collar and drags him to my room announcing to all who observe the unfolding drama that my care was their new number one priority. -- Should I mention accent on the drama?
His grunts of pain brought me back to the drab, grayish room me now found ourselves in. He was on the uncomfortable bed, rumpling the starchy sheets. The nurse was helping him into a gown - the backless, most un-dignified kind. The kind they expect you to wear while bring your beautiful, miracle baby into the World. The kind I shun with wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-in-that gusto. The kind I’ve been forced to wear on numerous occasions when I was too sick or too lost in a contraction to spurn their advances. Shunning takes strength and concentration. He got lucky, they let him keep his jeans. They might not have been able to keep him on the bed if they’d decided otherwise. Just looking at the gadgets, gizmos and the ever-present trappings of a medical environment seemed to make him a little crazy. I’m not exaggerating, the man hates hospitals. I don’t know how he managed to be such a stalwart labor coach through the births of our three children. But he did and he was the best. I wanted to do the same for him. I caught his glance as his eyes flashed back and forth trying to convey all my love and confidence in that one look. My reassuring smile didn't seem to calm his angst at all. I don't have a lot of experience being on this side of the hospital gown
I tried not to let my amusement show looking at him with his wayward hair, wild expression and that silly, silly gown. I did - heartlessly - mention that the roles seemed a bit reversed as it was usually me in the bed and him holding my hand. His tortured reply, “That’s because it’s my job to take care of you.” confirmed what I already knew. He’s not a big baby when he get’s sick. He just can’t stand the weakness and helplessness of it all. I lightly mentioned his good fortune at not having any contractions to speak of. That did get a small smile. I offered to poke his swollen elbow every minute or so if he wanted to get a feel for what labor was like. He declined, sighting the relentless throbbing and stabbing pain he was already enduring. Strange.
The whole purpose of this rather lengthy rendition of current events is to give you a picture of why it is that I firmly believe the ought to be a law against men getting sick - my man anyway.
You would agree if you would have witnessed his loopy, pain-med induced conversation with the waitress at the local IHOP where we stopped to get some very overdue supper . But oddly - considering the time (1:30 AM) and the fact that the rest of the place was filled with drunken revelers and exhausted shift-workers - I don’t think his antics were too far from what she was used to. She was kind and brought our food as quickly as possible. And when I asked for everything to be boxed up since the med was making my husband nauseous she did so without questioning. She nodded knowingly when I explained about severe Elbow Bursitis and waved politely when we left- most likely glad to see the last of this grey-faced, unsteady man and his harried, bleary-eyed wife.
My husband is going to be OK. It is going much too slow for him and he desperately sought to exempt himself from the prescribed doctor visit today when his condition was worse instead of better. More meds. Back tomorrow. New diagnosis (Septic Bursitis and Cellulitis). Maybe antibiotics through IV at the hospital. tomorrow if there‘s no improvement. A pain in the butt, a real one. They gave him two hefty shots in that tender region this afternoon. Which brings me to the end of my tale.
Get it? End of my… Oh, never-mind.
Side note: When an old lady in the waiting room commented on how well-behaved my children were I just about choked. Then I noticed how bad her eye-sight and hearing were and understood her mistake.
As I cook supper, pick-up the house, wash the bedding, bathe, pajama and read to our children, let the dog out and carry in some more firewood I realize something...
There ought to be a law…
The next item on my request list is, 'More arms for mothers.'