Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snow, Ice, and Ativan

It seems to have happened again. Winter has managed to sneak up early and wrap her icy grip around our house and around my heart. Accompanying the layers of powdery white snow that covers every branch and surface of our small New England town, and the darkness that ensconces us at 4pm, comes the heavy feeling of profound worry that eats me up inside.

Call it what you will, seasonal affects disorder (SAD, my favorite acronym of all time), or just the normal reaction to a dark, cold, depressing reality, it really only makes sense to hibernate. No reasonable people should be expected to stay awake all winter, it's just not natural. Except for those skiers, they've got it made, lucky bastards. A whole season for fun downhill swish-swashing and jolly hot chocolate drinking in the lodge, that might be a good solution, but probably not going to happen. (Note: I have lived in New England for most of my life and I have never once even touched a pair of skis).

My reaction to the winter misery is to have gripping, powerful anxiety surrounding winter driving and airplane travel. The way I become aware that the season is really changing is when I start to imagine I am on a plane while falling asleep in my bed each night. I feel the feeling of take off as I lie there, and the panic starts to wash over me as I realize I am trapped like a rat on a moving vessel I can't control. Except for that I'm not, I'm in my bed and I'm fine. Holy fuck, I think, is this what crazy feels like? Where did that Ativan run off to?

I am fighting one of my winter fear battles especially hard this week, the winter driving. Unfortunately Mother Nature has made this one particularly challenging quite early this year, as we have been pummeled with snow and ice and the roads are complete shit almost everywhere you turn. I had no idea how lame the Honda Odyssey is to drive in the snow. Man, that bad boy can skid on even the simplest of turns. So yesterday I strained the hell out of my credit card and invested in studded snow tires. An expensive, yet amazing investment in my sanity and my family's safety. The difference is uncanny, I am not sure why I hadn't thought of this before (or why I perhaps didn't think to buy a car with 4 wheel drive when I am pretty sure I will live here forever).

This morning I am trying desperately to motivate to get all of the pre-Christmas errands done before I head in for three nights of work, but the urge to stay nestled by the fire in my unattractive long underwear and bed mussed hair is a strong and powerful force. But no! The car needs to be inspected! We are out of milk! But it's sooooo cold out there. I will probably get it together soon and force myself to get this crap done so I can hurry back to the living room and hunker down once more. Maybe I'll go out and do some major donuts with my new snow tires, that'll show you Winter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Lawn Gnome in the Living Room

As many of you already know, my husband had surgery two weeks ago for an ongoing spinal injury. He was nervous about going under the knife, as any reasonable person would be. This was his first time having anything major done, his first experience with anesthesia, his first time spending the night in the hospital. It seemed normal for him to feel apprehensive about everything. I started to worry about the recovery process, however, about a week or so before the surgery, when he slumped about the house (in too much pain to do much of anything) breathing heavy, anxious sighs every ten minutes or so, rolling his eyes towards the heavens, and calling everyone he knew to say goodbye "just in case". Dear God. 

The surgery went about as smooth as could be expected, health wise he was recovering appropriately, but it became clear to me from hospital day one that maybe wives shouldn't be their husband's nurse maids. We snapped and snipped at each other while he moaned and writhed in pain. "Help me change position", "No! Not like THAT!", "Aargh! What do you want from me?!", "I'm not an invalid you know, now help me put on my socks!", "Do you want me to make you soup? What more can I do?!" Ugh, it wasn't pretty. 

We have spent long hours the past two weeks up in the middle of the night with him trying to find a comfortable position, discussing his bowel habits in great detail, and me trying to drum up the same compassion I have for my patients in the hospital, or my kids when they're sick. I'm embarrassed to admit how challenging it has been to really feel anything besides annoyed at how long it is taking for him to get better. Do other people feel this way when their mate is out of commission? Does this make me a bad person? A bad wife? Probably. I'm sure a better woman would feel terribly concerned, dote endlessly, and never want to scream out in irritation when grumbled at from the sofa to change his bandage for the fifth time that day. 

I felt especially guilty this week when he was able to get around enough to make a sloooww painful trip to the store to buy me flowers to thank me for taking care of him. Oh the guilt and shame. But he was so whiny! But I'm an asshole. Perhaps it's a bit of both. He is one whiny, sniveling, annoying sick person. And I suck at taking care of him. Thank god I take care of pregnant women and not injured relatives. And I will maintain that men are not as tough at getting through surgery as women. This must be a documented fact somewhere. It must. 

I guess the reality is that it's hard to see your mate as anything other than your strong hardworking partner. And having your husband planted in the living room like a lawn ornament watching endless reruns of Law and Order can get awfully old after three solid weeks, especially when there is no recognizable end in sight. Regardless, I'm feeling like a pretty callous person at the moment, and trying hard to channel my frustration with the situation into a positive force. It really could be much worse, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't survive that.