Yesterday The Sweetie had surgery on his spine, something called microlumbar decompression surgery. He had been on a waiting list for surgery, got a call on Monday and by Wednesday he was on the operating table. He had not been able to sit for over eight months, which, needless to say, was limiting. We have been lounging on the floor, taking modest walks around the neighbourhood and fantasizing about going out for dinner or seeing a movie. He has been very stoic. As much as I make fun of his dramatics when he has a cold, he has been unbelievably patient and positive throughout this ordeal. It was unanimous among everyone who knows us that as horrible as it was for The Sweetie to be suffering, it was better that it was him and not me because I would not have been as brave. Everyone would have been suffering along with me, I would have made sure of that. I would have had a breakdown by day two.
It was very hard to see The Sweetie looking vulnerable in his hospital gown and paper slippers when he was getting prepped for surgery. He came out of the change area looking like a little boy with the hospital paper shower cap on his head.
“Hey hon?” one of the nurses called out to him,“You don’t need to wear the paper hat yet unless you really like that look.”
We had to wait a long time for the doctor and anesthesiologist to arrive.
“Want to do the crossword with me?” I asked. “Want to play dirty hangman? Want to read about dog facts? Want to plan a trip to Portugal?”
“Actually I just want to pace,” The Sweetie replied.
As he paced all I could think about is how few things there are that truly matter. Love, health, connection. That’s it. If that is gone there is nothing else. All the things that I get stressed out about, all the things that I think are a big deals mean absolutely nothing.
“I think you should go now,” The Sweetie said when he had finished pacing and was lying under a blanket the nurse had brought him.
“I’m not going before they wheel you away,” I answered.
“I think I need some time on my own just to zone out and stay mellow and if I have to say good bye to you and you get all emotional I won’t be in the right frame of mind.”
“I won’t get emotional,” I said, starting to cry.
“Really, you should go.You’re going to have to wait around forever while I’m in recovery anyway.”
The Sweetie closed his eyes and then opened them again.“You’re still here,” he said. “You should really go.”
I unwrapped a throat lozenge.
“God, you’re like an unmovable force.”
Eventually the anesthesiologist came, a quirky Nordic fellow with a cute accent and soft hands. I kept it together and watched as they wheeled The Sweetie away and then burst into tears on the elevator. I baked cookies and washed dishes in a daze and waited for the surgeon to call me after the surgery. It’s funny how you always watch the world from outside of yourself when things feel stressful. Things felt slightly removed from reality, like I was sleepwalking through a dream.
I came to the recovery room to find him enjoying a glass of apple juice and nibbling on a tea biscuit. His nurse Svetlana seemed to be a little overly attentive and looked disappointed to see me. “You’re girlfriend?” She asked The Sweetie. “His wife”, I said and tried to drape myself over the bed, the metal rails digging painfully into my side.
Everything is fine, The Sweetie is home and is enjoying painkillers and soup. The cat is keeping a faithful vigil by his side. We have been taking tentative walks around the block and have been outpaced by a toddler. There is nothing I would rather be doing.