It’s been exactly four weeks since I had my first ever surgery. Through this process my husband has been my hero and my greatest enemy. While care-taking of plants and animals is right up his alley, being wholly responsible for a human was a whole new experience. While I’m certain his list is much longer, here are at least 5 things I learned on this journey.
1) He can react urgently after all. My easy going husband has let me down time and time again by his seeming inability to treat anything with any sort of seriousness and urgency. He has no hurry or hustle. I’ve never felt like I could rely on him in an emergency. Then I fell the first time the day after surgery. He was in the shower and I thought I was much more able bodied than I was. The second I came crashing down he ran out of the shower stark naked to help me. He was there the other couple of times I fell too. (I’m kind of clumsy on one leg.) When our new dog lost his ball under a teetering bookshelf I started screaming for my husband to help me and he was downstairs in a flash.
2) The man makes no assumptions. You probably learned this faster than I did. On three separate occasions I made various expressions of how I felt. “I feel dizzy.” “I think I’m going to vomit.” “You have to bring the car to me, I need to sit down.” And he would push me to get a move on. Seriously? It wasn’t until I officially declared “I don’t feel well!” that he understood. The man makes no assumptions. He doesn’t assume that the dining room table is part of cleaning the kitchen. Actually, he doesn’t assume wiping the countertops is part of cleaning the kitchen. Pots on the stove? Forget about it. From what I’ve heard these things are never going to change and I need to accept that I need to communicate at a micro level. Props to him for picking up the house last night and getting it 80% right!
3) For a steep learning curve he did alright. The beginning was rough. He needed to clock some hours at work and take care of an invalid, while managing a house and new puppy. The first day I had to call in help. I couldn’t feel like I got hit by a bus and explain how to DIY handsoap or boil eggs. He also forgot to feed me a couple of times. There were some serious bumps in the road, plus I was pretty emotional. While he failed a lot he tried so very hard. I’m officially on my way to mobility and he still leaves me breakfast by my bed without fail. He is helping me manage my weight without denying me cake, and hasn’t complained once about all the cooking and cleaning he has to do. I also realize that my request for this recipe was not fair. It took him 6 hours!
4) What I do every day is not what he does every day. I cook and clean all the time. He does not pay attention. He doesn’t know what a clean house is because it is irrelevant to him. He isn’t practiced at making meatballs or hand soap. Sure it takes me 30 seconds, but I know where all the stuff is and what order to mix it. I know what I expect of a clean house, but part of that is because I’m a woman. Communicating with him how inept I felt not being able create my environment and that I needed him to deliberately think about how his actions make me feel seemed to help. He doesn’t need a clean countertop but I do, and I can’t do that for myself right now. It doesn’t come natural to him, but extra communication got us through.
5) His heart is always in the right place. Sure he had no clue that flowers were appropriate post op. But he didn’t have a father figure teaching him anything either. Sure, when he bought the flowers after I flipped out on him he didn’t know that they needed water and they wilted. But he was trying. In the beginning when he was trying to keep me safe on stairs he held my lower hips (below my center of gravity) and almost killed us a couple of times, but he was very concerned about my safety.
In the last 4 weeks my husband has successfully kept me alive, unbroken, and fluffy but not fat. He fed me drugs every four hours through the night for the first several days. I was *almost* always fed. Eventually, my house was mostly clean. He did all of this while being at work 12 hours a day, keeping up with his side job, keeping up his precious garden, and taking care of his new puppy. There have been some really ugly moments, and we both learned some ugly things about each other, but we also saw how much we both need to adapt, change and cope.