Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Long Way Down

     Thus far, it's been a bad week for my husband and I. He fell down the steps in the basement on Monday night and has yet to recover from it. It wasn't one of those head-over-heels tumbles that you see in comedies, though that may have been better for him had that been the way it went down. What actually happened was no more complicated than socks + hardwood stairs = falling on his ass. Like just about everything else in his life, it can't be that simple, though. I didn't actually see him fall, as I was in another part of the basement and only heard him land on the stairs. When I got to the scene of the crime, I found him laying on the stairs, trying to catch his breath.

     Apparently, one of his feet slipped out from under him near the top of the stairs and he landed on his back before continuing the slide down to the bottom. I've fallen down the stairs in the same fashion more than once myself, as have most people I know. It shouldn't have been a big deal, except for the fact that when he went down, my husband landed on his spine, which we all know is a delicate entity on its best day. I'm sure his muscles tensed up as soon as his body realized what was about to happen, so in the three or four seconds that passed while he was making his rapid descent, the muscles in his back knotted up tight and didn't release.

     I asked him if he needed to go to the hospital and he refused, giving his reason as having used up all his paid leave at work and not wanting to take yet another unpaid day. Probably part of that decision was sheer stubbornness layered over top of embarrassment as well, if I had to venture a guess. My husband has to spend enough time in emergency rooms due to circumstances beyond his control and he hates it. How much worse would it have been for him knowing that he was only there because of clumsiness? All of this ran through my head in the span of about twelve seconds and then I watched him pull himself up using the handrail.

     I know I'm leaving myself wide open to criticism with that last little bit - why the hell didn't I rush him to the hospital immediately? First, because he's a grown man who can make decisions for himself and is actually much better equipped to do so that I in many instances. It takes a hell of a lot of trust, but at the end of the day, I do not know what it feels like to have Marfan's Syndrome. I can empathize all I want, but only my husband can judge the levels of pain he's in and only my husband can decide whether or not it's something that he can push through. He said he didn't want to go to the hospital, didn't want to miss another day of work and so we stayed home.

     Sometimes laying flat on his back helps when it's spinal pain, so I helped him make a pallet on the living room floor with some blankets instead of getting him into our bed. It might sound counterintuitive to some, but those who have back problems will understand that sometimes the soft bed is not the best option. He wasn't quite able to bend enough to get from a standing upright to a prone position on the floor, so he just kind of dropped to his knees and then crawled over to the pallet. Again, I know it sounds like I just stood there and watched all this happen without raising a finger to help, but you need to understand that when his back is involved, it's very easy for me to do more harm than good. The best course of action is for me to watch him carefully while he does what he needs to do and be ready to step in the moment he asks for help. I promise you, I know what I'm doing here.

     It was a long night, though not our first and surely not our last. It's two days later and while my husband is up and moving around, he's still in a great deal of pain. It's one of those things that he's beginning to realize he may just have to work through, because there simply aren't any alternatives. The drugs don't really work anymore, except to take the very finest edge off, and the one that does work just results in an inadvertent addiction and consequent withdrawal. The chiropractor seems to be having some success, but he warned my husband just last week that it's not going to be straight-ahead progress with the chiropractic treatment. The doctor said to think of it more like a roller coaster that a straight uphill chart, because that's what it's going to be. It's something, though, and that's better than nothing.

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