In this, the fifth and final in the My Husband Mike Had Back Surgery series (parts one, two, three, and four can be found by clicking on the appropriate numbers) we find ourselves at Lake Oconee. We had plans to spend the weekend of the Fourth of July at the lake, and since Mike could lay around in bed and sleep and do very little anywhere, there didn’t seem to be any reason why the rest of us shouldn’t spend a summer weekend at the lake.
Superficially, Mike seemed to be doing better. That is unless you actually listened to the things he was saying. He had some fairly entertaining prescription drug induced hallucinations. At one point, I was told rather emphatically that “Dr. Bruce needs the tape recorder.” When asked for clarification, he said, “You know, the VCR tapes.”
The next day, after a fairly lengthy conversation in which I insisted that it was, in fact, Saturday, which seemed like a difficult concept to grasp, he insisted that I was a half hour late picking up our son. “Where do you think he is?” I asked, knowing full well that he was in the next room playing Call of Duty. “I dropped him off,” he said. “At the place.” He couldn’t get any more specific. It took some convincing that poor Mikey hadn’t dropped anyone off or even driven a car in over a week.
And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any more pitiful, it came time for the Changing of the Bandages. I’m good at a lot of things, but I also recognize my limitations, and blood and ooky stuff are not what I’m good at. There was gauze on his back and hip, held by large sheets of clear tape. The ones on his back seemed ok, but the one on his hip was frightful. There was some angry looking skinless red that could be seen under the clear tape, and there were some raised patches that looked like blobs of Nutella. Or alien parasites. I just wanted to haul him to the ER, but he decided, without being able to see what I was looking at, that he didn’t need to go. There’s no reasoning with a guy under these circumstances.
So I did the next best thing. I ran next door and got our neighbor, a retired gynecologist. As a lawyer, it generally irritates me when people expect me to be an expert in a field I don’t practice in: something I only knew a little about to pass a law school exam over twenty years ago. So I knew that Beverly’s specialty had nothing to do with what I was dealing with. All I really wanted her to do was to tell me if I had to go to the ER or not.
She flew into action, though. Apparently gynecological surgery and back surgery are a whole lot different on the inside, but not so much on the outside. Booboos are booboos. Sutures and dressings are sutures and dressings. On her instruction, we found some rubber gloves over the washing machine, a bunch of Q-Tips™ some peroxide, a bottle of ancient Bactine, a cup of water, and a roll of paper towels. It was my unfortunate job to hold a paper towel beneath the affected area to catch the peroxide and other disgusting drippings so they wouldn’t get on the chair or the floor. Blurgh. Blech. Even just remembering it my stomach is seizing up and throwing punches at my brain for the recall. I am NOT GOOD AT THESE THINGS. There is a very good reason WHY I didn’t go to medical school.
Eventually, we got the whole thing re-bandaged and hidden from my view. I rewarded Beverly with a bottle of wine and an autographed copy of my book and a fifteen minute spew of thankyouthankyouthankyous.
Like everything awful, excepting Death and Taxes, this, too, shall pass. As I write this, more than a week after the last described episode, he can get up and down and roll over all by himself, and as far as I know he hasn’t attempted to fix any more appliances. (I did find evidence that he climbed a stepladder to do goodness-knows-what with the curtains in our bedroom, but I’m conveniently choosing to ignore that……)
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