Monday, July 11, 2011

Help Me Make It Through the Night

     My husband was in pain last night, a lot of it. In fact, he told me that if he hadn't had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 7:45 the next morning, he would've asked me to take him to the emergency room. They just would've given him a dose of Dilaudid and a prescription for a handful of painkillers to take when he got home. While that was tempting, given the level of discomfort he was in, it wasn't something he couldn't get through with a Flexoril and the knowledge that he'd be seeing a new pain-relief doctor in the morning who could hopefully provide us with a better treatment option. I understood his reasoning and so didn't push the issue when he said he didn't want to go to the hospital, that he could wait until the morning, but damned if that wasn't one of the hardest nights I've yet had to get through with him.

     We lay down to go to bed at around eleven last night and though his back had been irritating him all day, my husband thought that he could alleviate the pain by laying flat on his back. There are two types of back pain for him - muscle pain and spinal pain. The muscle pain is the more ever-present of the two, but the more easily tolerable/manageable. Muscle-relaxers, hot showers and stretching (what little he's able to) all help alleviate that type of back pain. The spinal pain, though, that's a whole different animal and that's what he was dealing with last night.

     I don't have back problems, nor do I ever anticipate having back problems, so I don't really know what it feels like for him, but it's been described to me as feeling akin to someone shoving a flathead screwdriver between your vertabrae and digging around with it. In short, most unpleasant. That's what we were dealing with last night. I suggested he take a hot shower, though I knew in the back of my head that it was the wrong type of pain to be helped by something so simple. I had to say something, though, because I didn't know what else to do, short of driving him to the ER against his will. I promise you, that scenario never goes well.

     After taking a (useless) shower, my husband decided that perhaps laying on the floor was the way to go, as it's obviously a harder, flatter surface than the mattress of our bed. So I got up and made him a pallet on the floor, so he could lay there while I watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and kept him company. It was past midnight at this point and we both had somewhere to be in less than eight hours, but sleep wasn't an option at that point. My husband knew by now that the pain wasn't going to go away and that the best he could hope for was a drug-induced, fitful sleep. I got him one of his Flexorils and settled in to wait for it to do its job.

     Eventually, the little pill kicked in so that my husband was sleepy enough that he was ready to get up off the floor and back into bed. Back to bed we went and it was now almost 2 am. I turned off the light and laid down next to him, unable to get comfortable because I was afraid to move wrong and accidentally bump him and cause him more pain. I'm restless when I first lay down anyway, twitching around until I find just the right spot, which is usually curled against his back. Yeah, that wasn't so much an option last night. Between the being afraid to move and the not being able to turn my head off, I knew I wasn't going to be able to close my eyes for awhile.

     I am not someone who cries, and I don't just mean I don't cry over little things. I mean, I rarely cry ever at all. The day we buried my dad's brother? I was the only one in my family who was dry-eyed. Same thing last summer when my grandfather died - no tears for this girl. Contrary to popular belief , this trait does not mean I didn't love them, that I don't feel grief. I don't really know what it means, maybe that I control my emotions very tightly and keep it to myself. Again, I don't know and I don't really care to psychoanalyze myself at the moment. I only bring it up because I need to make it clear just how much was going on inside me last night when I felt the tears start as I lay in bed.

     I kind of surprised myself with them and I immediately got up and went into the other room. I could tell my husband wasn't all the way asleep yet and I had no intention of upsetting him with something I didn't even have a handle on myself. I think I was just overwhelmed, thinking about the pain he was in, again and the fact that he'd told me earlier that day that he had to quit his second job waiting tables and soon. He'd informed me that he only had a few shifts left in him, not even a few months. Well, hell, I don't even want him working that stupid job, but he's there because he has to be. We don't have a choice at the moment and though I know it will eventually get better, that day is still a ways off.

     I didn't know what else to do, so I went into the second bedroom, sat down on the bed and pulled the Bible I was given in third grade off the shelf. It's difficult for me to talk about this, as my faith is a very, very private thing and it's for no one but me. I have to, though, because once again, there could be someone out there who's in my position and needs to know they're not alone. In any case, one of the few things I remember from Sunday school is that when you open a Bible to the middle of it, you'll open it to the Book of Psalms. (Don't ask me why I can remember that, but not what the whole baby-in-a-basket story was about.) That's what I expected when I flipped it open, but that's not what I got.

     The pages instead opened to the Book of Job, which is apparently right before Psalms. (I feel like the order of the Books are something I should also remember, but I don't. Sorry, Grandma.) I know only that this Job person had a lot of patience and that every bad thing that could happen to a person happened to him. I don't know why or where or what exactly, but bad things happened, he never lost faith in God, and then things got better. That is the sum total of what I know about the Book of Job.

     I've done that before, you know, gone and opened up my Bible to a random page, hoping that the phrase my eyes land on first is one of comfort, something I can use to assure myself that something much bigger than myself is paying attention to 'lil ole me and my problems. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, the pages flip open to some random story that has no bearing whatsoever on whatever it is that's got me all wound up. Every once in awhile, though, I'll open to something that I can't ignore, which is what happened last night.

     In all the years I've pulled that trick on myself, I've never flipped the Bible open to the Book of Job. Does that mean something, or is it just an old book of stories and just a coincidence? I mean, I know God's there and I know He can hear me, but I don't think it's really His job to attend to me every time I have a little head trip. Bigger fish to fry, you know? Maybe, though, this time I needed it just badly enough that He thought He should be a little more direct. Maybe Bono is right in that sometimes you can't make it on your own or maybe I'm just doing what I can to make myself believe that there's going to be a light at the end of the tunnel for us.

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