My husband recently had back surgery – he had two of his lumbar discs fused to two other lumbar discs which had been fused about nine years ago. No, he hadn’t been in a car wreck or fall. He just got old(er) and the human body wasn’t originally designed to live as long as it does now, so it tends to disintegrate over time. Luckily, we have medical science, which can counterbalance a lot of the problems.
Let me just say that I am thoroughly amazed by medical science. When I was a child, I did relatively well in school. As a result, my parents presented me with two options for adulthood: be a lawyer or be a doctor. I decided fairly early on that I had no interest in being a doctor so lawyer it was. And a good thing. Despite the bad days, I’m a good match for lawyering.
I would be the world’s worst doctor. I know this because I am, if not the worst, at least in the top ten worst nurses.
I can barely cut into a medium-rare steak without discomfort, and, although I am a carnivore, I gag on tendons and viscera. I can’t imagine standing over a live human and cutting him or her or them open to muck around with the guts.
Especially something like the spine. My tenth-grade understanding of human anatomy tells me that the spine is what makes everything else works. It brings signals from your brain to every other part of your body and tells them what to do. It gives the command to your heart to beat. It tells your legs how to do the complicated act of walking without falling over. It tells your mouth what to say, and, less often, what not to say. If you break your spine, you can be paralyzed. Forever. If you break your neck, which is really just the top part of your spine, you can die.
So what a brave human it must take to mess around with the spine, to take actual screws and use a fair amount of torque to get them into the bone, to move the nerves over to the side…that doctor was on my husband’s literal last nerve in his spine…I can’t even think about that without shuddering.
I trust our doctor, of course. This is the third time he’s messed around with the insides of my husband, and Mike comes out better every time. Dr. Price is skilled and experienced. But at some point in his life, he did that for the first time, and I cannot imagine having the courage to do that.
Me? I had to leave the room when the nurse changed the bandages on the incision in the hospital. Then, a day later, when it fell to me to change the gore-infested bandages at home, I had to send my conscious brain to the tropics with a pineapple drink while my body went through the motions of what it had to do while trying not to gag.
Then, a week later, when he took a shower and needed help getting the crust off the incision site because honestly, who can reach the middle of their own back especially while recovering from surgery? – I had to put my actual hands on it and I swear I got the vapors.
I am not a good nurse. I am the worst. A good nurse? Worth far more than her weight in rubies.
But, you do what you have to do when you love someone. That, folks, is what marriage is. It isn’t romance and flowers and sensuality. It’s growing old with someone and accepting the consequences. It’s stepping so far out of your comfort zone that you can’t even see your zone of comfort anymore when your loved one needs you to. Because tending to their needs is more important than whatever you think your preferences are.
I prefer that he hurry up and get better so he can take care of his own needs until the next time that he can’t, in which case I will take over in my imperfect way.
Or, maybe, I’ll hire a good nurse.
 Honestly? I haven’t taken a science class since tenth grade. That was almost forty-dang years ago.
 Except chopped liver, which is so good (if you don’t think about what it is, exactly) that when my (now vegetarian) daughter was little we called it “meat candy.”
 This is why one should never step on sidewalk cracks. Your mother is old. She’s brittle. Take care of her back.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.