Life Lessons – The Long-Term Relationship Edition

File Under: LIFE LESSONS – The long term relationship edition

(Totally cool if you want to TL;DR this – I just need to blow some steam.)

“I do.”

Two words that imply an agreement, a desire, a willingness to do what is required. Said at any sort of binding ceremony (wedding, handfasting, etc – depending on your traditions), those two words take on such a deeper meaning. At times, those two words will truly test you – HARD. They will press you until you think you can’t be squeezed any further and yet, if you love them, you find a way to do it.

They say, “Life never throws at you more than you can handle.” Easy words to type, not always so easy to put into practice.

I recently posted about a major surgery that my husband (of nearly 25 years – this September) had to go through. The surgery was touch and go because of so many other health related issues (my husband is 16 years my senior – I am 55 – you do the math). I wouldn’t trade a single day, good or bad, to do something else or be with someone else. He completes me in every way imaginable. It was his deft hand with medicine (from his years in the field as a practicing doctor) that allowed me to find my current “NED” (No Evidence of Disease) status with my cancer. He was relentless in making sure every i was dotted, every t crossed. He researched long into the night while I slept – the chemo coursing throughout my ravaged body – for potential forms of immuno-therapies that would potentially be the fix for me. We never did need them, though he was ready to go with plans b, c, d, etc.

This week was a rollercoaster from hell. While we cleared the major hurdle of the surgery (YAY team!), his recovery from that has been less than stellar. Thursday, the day after the procedure, he started to have tremors that he couldn’t control. I alerted the surgical and pain teams to the situation. They were there on the spot and were analyzing our options. It spiraled from there. At one point he was struggling to get up and as I raced to the other side of the bed, someone had put a power cord across the walking path. I thought I cleared it only to have the toe of my sneaker grip it and I *literally* went flying across the room – damaging my knee and sliding right into the opposing wall with my head. #FunTimes

Fast forward to late that same evening, I left word with the nightshift nurse that after nearly an hour I was able to get his pain meds down – he was delirious by this point – incoherent and babbling nonsense every now and again. Random, disconnected thoughts. I did what I could to engage him. I wasn’t all that successful. I went home, seriously worried and feeling like the end was near. It was a hard night.

I got a call at 4am from the night nurse saying that his delirium had progressed and was so bad they had to restrain him as he was thoroughlly confused and began ripping the connections to the machines that were both monitoring him and providing pain meds to his epidural. Thankfully, he hadn’t gotten to that one by the time they restrained him. The nurse called to tell me what had changed so I wouldn’t be surprised by the morning. There would now be a nurse in the room (even if I was there) to sit with him 24/7. Our time was not our own.

I went back the next morning. J (my husband) was up. He was coherent – if a bit surly, even to me. I gave him a good morning kiss, to which he seemed cold to. I didn’t understand it. I spoke with his day nurse and he said that J had suffered a form of hypoxia – oxygen wasn’t making it to the brain in sufficient enough of a saturation. I asked if there were long term effects, but they didn’t believe so because they reacted so quickly. I go back in and try to engage my husband and he says, “Do you want a divorce?”

Stunned, I stammered and asked, “What ever gave you that idea?” He then told me that he heard me conspiring with the nursing staff to restrain him, to give him MORE drugs to subdue him. All of it during his hypoxia state. It took me quite a while to lay out the entire day that he didn’t have complete awareness about and had surplanted his own version of events in the process.

We’re fine now. He’s on the road to recovery. He’s back to his snarky (even with me) self. He coos words of love whenever he can – probably to make up from his “divorce” scenario he was so adamant about. I don’t press it. I know it for what it was. But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t stressful. My body is literally beat from the emotional (and physical) ride this past week has brought me. All I want to do is get him home so I can tend to him as he did to me while I was sick.

“When I said I wanted to grow old with you, this isn’t what I had in mind.” His words to me. I nodded, “Yeah, we should’ve made it quite clear to the universe back then.”

He squeezed my hand a little tighter.

As Roz Russell was fond of saying in her biography, “Turn the page, and press on.”

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