No one really listens to the officiant who marries them. They are too excited and in love. We promise all kinds of things. We used to even say we would “honor and obey.” I think they have taken THAT out of the ceremony. However, the part about “sickness and health” is still in there. And we promise that, too. Most people are very young and healthy when they get married. Sickness? What’s that?
But now, after forty-some years, that “sickness” part is starting to kick in in a big way. Good grief. Two weeks ago, he toted buckets up and down stairs after I was hit with the worst case of stomach flu that has ever been seen in the twenty first century. Remember the olden days when Aunt Agnes used a little crystal bell to summon her family members to bring her cold compresses and weak tea? I used my cell phone to call him upstairs more times than I care to recount: for ice water, a cracker, or finally, in desperation, vicodin. He never once frowned.
This weekend it was my turn. After a hernia operation (he keeps getting them—this was his third hernia. He may be going for a world record), we got home, and I began my stint as a nurse. Ice pack on the incision: check. Glass of ice water by the bed: check. TV remote and cell phone at arm’s length: check.
I thought I was done. I figured that he would just sleep for 48 hours, and then miraculously get up, come downstairs, and resume playing the accordion. Although he has had this same surgery twice before, I think there is a factor in play here similar to the memories of childbirth: you forget all about it. If you were to remember how awful it was, you wouldn’t have more children. So I guess I forgot about how it really is with surgeries. And the aftermath.
He needed new ice in his water. OK. Then he wanted a piece of toast. Fine. Could I set up the radio to play classical music? Sigh. Done. A brief respite, then the damn pill schedule. It is complicated enough to require a spread sheet.
Another pillow, for propping? I guess. What? The sun is shining in your eyes? Ok, fine. I’ll shut the damn mini-blinds. You say that you need to get socks on, because your feet are cold? (sidebar: putting socks on another person is next to impossible, especially when that person winces with every tug)
You want to take a nap? NO? Why not? I am totally exhausted…what? You want me to set up your laptop? On a bed tray? FINE.
We got through the first hour.
The people who become nurses by choice? May God bless them.
And forgive me my trespasses…if he asks for one more glass of ice water, I am going to spill it on his head….