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Silver Threads: On sharing the pain

bettyeheadshot-220x220It has been said throughout history that if men had to endure pregnancy and suffer through delivery only one child would be produced by a couple.  Had Adam been given the penalty placed on Eve as they left the garden, God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply” would not have been obeyed.

But I’m jumping ahead; this is the email I sent on Sunday to my husband’s brother and sister-in-law, my sister, a crowd of cousins and some old friends:

“Just to let you know that Bobby had to go to the emergency room at 5 a.m. Saturday after he fell into the corner of a chair beside his bed. He was in extreme pain, and I had to call the EMTs because he couldn’t get into Jill’s car. Nothing is broken, but the doctor said he apparently bruised his kidney. It hurts terribly when he moves in certain ways and pain goes down into his back, hips and legs.

“Jill and Cliff rented a wheelchair at the drugstore, and we got him home with a prescription that sends him into la-la land. The doc says this will last about 10 days. He got up with my help and into the kitchen in the wheelchair at noon today, ate a little, and I got him back into bed — with painful intervals. He can’t seem to sit in any chair in the house comfortably. Ah, well; the day comes, doesn’t it? -- Bettye”

And thank goodness for the email recipients; nobody can really help me except our daughter and son-in-law, but when replies to the message began coming in via phone calls and my PC, I felt blessed. Comparatively minor though Bobby’s problem is, having a big team rooting for you helps.

I meant it when I told them the day comes. Even those of us who have been fortunate enough to grow old in good health can see it coming. “How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete,” wrote C. S. Lewis. Surely, one of them is getting out of bed in the dark and falling over a chair.

Now back to the beginning. Don’t even mention the agonies that often accompany childbirth when your husband is moaning that you know nothing of the pain he’s experiencing. Confine yourself instead to gentle reminders of the discomfort you endured with a ruptured and calcified fifth lumbar disk and the surgery that was necessary to fix it. After you’ve done this maybe twice, just shut up and nod sympathetically.

Caregivers out there: I’m getting only a glimpse of that with which you’re confronted, but it’s vivid enough nevertheless. “I feel your pain,” said somebody else very famous.

But Bobby will get better. On the fourth day I’m beginning to wean him off the potent painkiller, and insist that he sit up with his Kindle for a few hours. Perhaps I can win the battle to get him out on our big porch this afternoon.  My only concern is that I won’t be able to pull his wheelchair up a step and get him back inside.

But my husband will be well shortly, and these problems are small potatoes compared to those faced by some caregivers.

I appreciate you.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected]