Thursday, February 19, 2015

Since I've Been Loving You

     I will be the first to admit that I am really, really bad at being sick. And that encompasses the whole spectrum of sickness, from your basic cold all the way to surgery. It's not my finest hour, and God bless anyone who's not my parents for sticking around for any length of time when I'm under the weather. As you'd imagine, the closer my illness gets to the "surgery"end of that scale, the more determination it takes for the person taking care of me to stick around and get the job done. So when I found out I was going to have to have surgery on my sinuses, I knew my husband would not be looking forward to the special, special times to come.

     I actually had the surgery done last Monday, and though it was outpatient, that procedure marks the first time I've been the one going under the anesthetic since we first got together in August of 2009. So that's what, five and a half years? In that half-decade, I've been by his side for 2 surgeries, a mini-stroke, hundreds of ER trips, and countless in-patient hospitalizations. I can rattle off his medications, including how much of each he takes and when, like most people rattle off their Social Security numbers. At this point in our life together, it really feels normal. What feels weird is being the one in the hospital gown with the IV in her arm, because that's a complete role-reversal.

      I believe there's a reverse side to everything, and maybe times like these are where the silver linings make themselves known. Like I said, though he's usually the one in the hospital bed, our positions were reversed here and I have to say, it worked out for the best.

     While my surgery was outpatient, meaning I didn't have to spend the night in the hospital, it still sucked. Hard, it sucked. I've been under general anesthetic before for previous surgeries, so I knew the roughest part for me (and my husband, consequently) would be in the recovery room, when I was coming up from under the drugs. Sure enough, the first thing I was aware of was not being able to open my eyes and having the distinct impression that there was a razor blade anchored at the back of my throat that was trying to force its way down. Ugh.

     He was there, my husband, Gatorade and ice chips at the ready. He's had so many procedures, spent so much time in a hospital bed, that he knew before the nurses told him what he needed to do, what to have ready for me when I came to. There's a huge comfort there that simply cannot be overstated, especially when you're disoriented and the simple act of speaking is intensely painful. It was a combination of hand gestures, telepathy, and his first-hand knowledge that got us through the first night after surgery as easily as could be hoped.

     For example, thanks to his long history with every painkiller imaginable, (thanks, Marfan's! He wasn't using that spine anyway...) he knew exactly what the demerol prescription would do to my sensitive stomach, especially after it had already been subjected to the trauma of the general anesthetic. Hence, the pills stayed in the bottle, and I rode out the night alternating bags of frozen peas and corn on my face to alleviate the pressure and discomfort. It sounds like such a small thing, that he would have that forethought, but I assure you, it wasn't. It was huge in a moment when I wished desperately that I could just take my face off and set it aside until it felt better. (Though that imagery is kind of creepy when you think about it, because Face/Off.)

     There were a million other things over the past two weeks that I'm sure I don't even remember. I think it's more of an overall knowing exactly what I needed, sometimes before I did, that made this so much better than it could have been. It feels strange to say that I'm grateful for my husband's experiences and subsequent knowledge of how to care for me in this instance, because that knowledge comes from his living with Marfan's Syndrome.

     Not a day goes by that we don't wish he was healthy, that his disorder wasn't a part of our lives, but (and I really, truly hate this phrase, however accurate) it is what it is; it's part of him, literally a piece of his DNA. So, rather than get frustrated this time over something that will never change, look at it from a different angle - for once, his disorder has given us something, instead of taken it away.  It's a tiny silver lining, I know, but sometimes that's all that's needed.