Don’t Let Me Help. You Might Die. (A recovery story. Or two.)

If you want good, accident free post-op care, don’t let me be the one to give it to you. I can say with confidence that you DO NOT want me bringing you home from the hospital or clinic to recover. It’s okay if I’m in the general area, minding my own business, or asking from a distance if you need anything as long as there is a barrier between us that can protect you, like a wall or a moat. But when it comes to helping you get into the house to a comfortable place where you can recover, the answer is a resounding “No!!!!!”, with all of those exclamation points.

You may be saying to yourself, “P’SHAW!” with only one exclamation point. “You can’t be that bad of a care giver.” If you’re thinking this, you’re probably swimming in your own drug-induced helplessness and would welcome any help you can get. I know this mainly because nobody says “P’SHAW” anymore unless they’re on drugs.

So I’ll tell you a story to lend a little clarity and let me just say that it’s a wonder my wife is not dead.

It was several years ago and my beloved had a tooth that needed to be pulled. The problem was that the root was growing into her nasal cavity and the tooth couldn’t be removed without surgery. I was told that my dear bride would be put to sleep for the procedure and that I was to be prepared for her to be “woozy” upon getting her home and into bed.

Woozy wasn’t the word for it. The surgery went fine, but my wife seemed to require more time to wake up than they were giving her. Even my mom, who had come for support, questioned the nurse about letting her go so soon, but was told it was fine and not to be a ninny.

We bundled her into the passenger seat of the car well enough and she slept all the way home, only muttering nonsense every now and again. “Daddy was right, you are stupid. I should have married money.” Nonsense. She didn’t know what she was saying.

It was when we pulled into the driveway that the fun started. First, just as we were getting there, the darkest, most ominous thunder cloud was moving overhead. She had woken enough to stand – a little – and I got her out of the car before realizing I needed to get the door open for her. I told her to lean there while I unlocked the house and I’d be right back, but between the time I walked to the door, unlocked and opened it, then turned around, she had decided the gravel driveway would do just fine for a while and laid herself down, curled into a fetal position in the dirt.

“No, no, no! You gotta get up!”

“I’m just gonna rest here a minute.”

“You can’t do that. There’s a huge storm coming. You have to get inside.”

“This is fine.” She tucked her hands under her face.

I shoved her shoulder, trying not to let her get too far gone into la la land. “You don’t know what you’re saying. We have to stand you up.”

“Daddy was right … daddy was right.”

I had a decision to make. I could poke at her incessantly until she hopefully woke up or I could dead lift her in my arms. I’m not the weakest link in the chain, but I’m also not the strongest. It wasn’t going to be easy lifting her from the ground without help, but it seemed to be the only option.

To my surprise, I managed and was walking her through the door of the house just as the rain began to fall. It was actually kind of sweet and I saw myself as the hero in a movie, that was until I misjudged the space between her head and the door frame and clocked the side of her face a good one.

For the purposes of this family oriented story, I’ll amend her reaction. “Ow,” she said politely.

But that’s not the end of the horror for my recovering wife. Later that evening as I had fallen asleep next to her, I pressed my arm under her pillow like I’m prone to do. Eventually, I began to dream and while I no longer remember the details of it, I must have been engaged in a rather awesome battle. I woke to her screams and realized that I had been slamming my fist back and forth as I warred with whatever demons from whom I was saving the world and smashing the side of her face right where the surgery had been done. She said, “Ow.”

That has been a story we’ve told over dinner tables for years now that we can have a good laugh about it, and I thought it was the last of its kind. It is not, though. My wife had surgery recently on her Achilles tendon. You can’t walk after having surgery on your Achilles tendon and I was the one who had to get her into bed immediately after arriving home.

At least there was no storm. Another blessing was that she was completely conscious. Unfortunately, she could not feel much of the bottom half of her body, so getting her from point A to point B was no picnic.

First, I parked her close to the ramp the church had built for her so she wouldn’t have to go up and down the front steps, but there was a curb there, so she made me pull into the driveway where she could use level ground and the sidewalk.

We tried normal crutches and she got about three steps away from the car before realizing she didn’t have the strength to use them, even with me there for support. So we got her back to the car and I told her to stay there until I figured something out.

The office chair. It has wheels!

I pulled the office chair to the car and sat her down, then pushed her up the sidewalk, up the ramp, then into the house. We got halfway through and found an obstacle. The wheelbase was too wide to go through the rest of the doors.

“Put me on my butt. I’ll scoot.”

“You’re not going to scoot,” I told her.

“It’ll be fine. It’s not that far anyway.”

“You’ll get a splinter in your cheeks. I’ll pick you up.”

“Can you do that with your back?”

“I’ll have to.”

So I picked her up. It wasn’t as easy to do for me as it was for the hero in my mind and I only managed to get my arm under one leg. The other leg, the one with the cast, dangled willy-nilly below her.

“Careful, my leg!” she warned.

“I got this!” We were almost there. The bedroom door was just before us.

“Watch my head!”

“I know, I know!”

I lowered my bride to the bed and she was relieved. I had wanted to take her all the way around to her side, but she’d had enough of my heroics and said just to put her down at the edge and she’d scoot.

I mean well and I suppose the second story, as clumsy as it would have looked had you seen it first hand, was a success, but twice is enough. I think from now on, there will be a second helper should this situation arise.