Our wedding vows did not include the actual words “in sickness and in health” because, for Guy and me, it’s assumed. Likewise, he didn’t have to say “you can always have the side of the bed that’s closest to the bathroom” and I didn’t have to say “you can use 1/3 of the kitchen counter space as a desk even though you have a den with a desk in it” – we just know it’s better that way. It’s the “sacrifices” everyone told us about.
When I’m sick, Guy deals with every other thing in life I normally deal with, getting kids where they need to be, cooking meals, ensuring homework is done — and that is the best thing he can do for me. Being alone in a quiet room is nirvana when I have a migraine, am nauseous, or have a cold. If he were to try to rub my back or talk soothingly or something equally torturous he might lose an eye.
When he’s sick I stand on the sideline like a relief pitcher waiting for the phone to ring. Which happened recently when he discovered he had (another) kidney stone. Two, this time, actually. One that seemed to pass relatively easily, if by that we can agree I mean more of a 4 pound baby than a 10 pounder. Both are damned hard to do. The other, still taking its sweet time as I write this, is a 14.8 pound baby, if you will. When I receive the call, I’m sprinting to the mound. I’m giving him the once-over, patting his shoulder, and telling him to hit the dugout. Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play.
Lots of things in marriage eventually become ‘the way things are’ and taking care of a partner when they’re sick is one of those things. You do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s the only thing you can do, and because you can’t outright take pain or sickness away from another person and take it upon yourself (unless you are John Coffee from The Green Mile, and that is difficult work indeed.)
Kidney stones, I have learned, cause a person (80% of the time a man) to want to cut out parts of himself he might be needing later; parts like his ureter, his lower back or his lower abdomen. I’m no doctor, but I’m thinking this might cause some problems the next time he wants to, say, stay alive. Since said man cannot, in fact, cut the stone out of his own body, he must simply wait for it to pass through of its own volition.
While waiting, kidney stones force a man to do the kidney stone dance, whereby he wiggles his torso back and forth, , as if moving away from the pain in every direction, only to realize it’s following him – when he then tries leaning into it instead, with hand firmly planted into wherever the pain is, at that moment, emanating from. When that does not alleviate the pain, and it won’t, he might bend his knees like Jason Varitek ready to catch a fast ball, or bend from the middle like Johnny Damon stretching his hamstrings. A deep sigh follows these movements, and then, soon after, they begin again. On and on. Pacing is an acceptable part of the kidney stone dance, and, I proudly declare, Guy is particularly good at that part. It’s the only dancing I’ve seen my husband do in seventeen years of marriage, so I praise what I can.
Meanwhile, drinking more water than a camel planning to cross the desert seems to help, along with pain medications that would bring that same camel to its knees. He says some silly things on these meds, and I’m writing them all down for a time I can’t yet see clearly, when the stone is gone and we can laugh about that time the kidney stone just about killed him.
It can’t come soon enough.