On our first full day in the hospital after my husband’s back surgery, late in the afternoon, the physical therapist came by. She informed Mike that he was going to get out of bed and take a little walk. He was skeptical. I sat back for the show.
Think about it: if you had to keep your back perfectly straight and had virtually no core strength, not to mention being stoned on a narcotic cocktail that would drop a full grown gorilla, getting out of bed would be quite the accomplishment. And so, wearing that most flattering and revealing of garments, the Hospital Gown, and wearing socks with no-slip treads, he learned how to bring up his knees, log roll over, scootch his feet and legs off the side of the bed, use his arms to lift his unbending torso, and sort of slither off the bed without bending forwards. I was proud of him for only moaning and groaning a little.
He was given a walker, and shuffled a circuit around the tiny room, with me moving IV poles and blood pressure monitors and tables and chairs and all manner of other floor hazards out of the way like the guy with the broom in Olympic Curling. While he was standing, his back brace was put on and adjusted. I was pleased beyond rationality to see that embroidered on the side of this huge black thing that covered most of his torso was the brand name “Ninja.” He might be as far from a ninja as he could get at that moment, but I loved the inspiration. Yes. This is the back brace that ninjas use. It is a stealthy back brace. The people who wear it are avengers of evil and lethal, if morally righteous, weapons.
I put my ‘bed’ back into the upright and locked position, and he sat in it for about an hour as per instructions from the physical therapist. Thirty minutes of that hour was me arranging and rearranging pillows behind his back and head and under his knees until he was tolerably comfortable. After that, the physical therapy session declared a success, he reversed the process by sitting on the side of the bed, kind of tumping over, and logrolling back onto his back. I was as proud as I was the day my son took his first steps.
Naturally, after that, he fell asleep and didn’t get up again, even though he was told he should get out of bed from time to time and take a few steps. I didn’t push it. Later that day, our good friends brought our children by to see their father. He mostly slept, and they mostly ignored him by playing on their iPods and begging me for money to go to the cafeteria and get ice cream. I had them bring me a change of clothes and a toothbrush, which they did, even if of all the shorts I had on my shelf they chose the shorts that gave me the biggest wedgie. I was able to get a bar of soap from the gift shop, as well as a book of crossword puzzles. Of course, the gift shop didn’t have any pencils, and only one pen, which was oversized, and said something like “World’s Greatest Nurse” on it. After enough whining on my part, the sweet clerk gave me a chewed up, half used up pencil from the cup near the cash register. I was very grateful.
On day two, the physical therapist came back. She made him get up out of bed without the use of the walker (since it might scoot out from under him and he would fall) for which he still refers to her as “That Physical Therapist [insert unflattering expletive here].” From there, he trudged into the hallway to get in line behind a number of other Hospital Gown clad and walker toting patients so he could learn how to walk up stairs without killing himself (or me.) Since he did not, in fact, kill himself (or me) (or the physical therapist), we were pronounced ready to go home and given our discharge papers. The discharge papers said, among other things, that he should not be in a car for more than a half hour. This was a problem, since we lived well more than a half hour away from the hospital. I chose to pretend I didn’t actually read that line.
We made it home, and Mike made it into bed without incident. Our bed, which is very high off the floor, proved to be much easier to get in and out of than the hospital bed, which encouraged him to completely overdo the up and down thing.
Around ten o’clock that night, I realized that I felt hot and sweaty. Due to my age, and the fact that I am hot natured to begin with, this is a familiar feeling, but it felt humid as well, and I asked if anyone else was hot. They were. I looked at the thermostat, and saw that despite the AC being set on 73, it was 80 degrees in the house. Fan-freaking-tastic. Well, at least we had several ceiling fans, that is.
To be continued………….
Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loribduffauthor