Love and Marriage

My husband, the caregiver

I have always been used to my mom taking care of me after surgery, well for most of my surgeries, that is. After three of my surgeries while I was in medical school, she had to stay with me for 2 weeks or so to take care of me postoperatively. I was in LA for last year’s surgery, so it was my Auntie Becky and family who took care of me. This time, there’s only me and Sam, and friends, to whom I’ll always be grateful. To those who have brought us meals and flowers, and offered encouraging words and prayers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dealing with post-surgery recuperation is never fun. There’s the pain, of course, then the post-anesthesia effects (which includes the horrible consequence of extremely difficult bowel movement), inability to use that specific part that just underwent surgery, the inability to move around and do things, sleepless nights owing to difficulty finding the least painful position, nausea, vomiting, not being able to bathe normally on your own, oh the list is endless. For that, Sam had to skip work for two days after my surgery to stay home with me.

At first, I was worried that Sam wouldn’t be able to fully take on the caregiving role. But this past week just proved me wrong.

During the day of my surgery, he decided not to skip work because he wanted to distract himself from worrying too much about the surgery. But when I wasn’t out of the operating room on time because the procedure took longer than the doctors expected due to the extent of damage in my shoulder, he told me he couldn’t help but worry. When the nurse finally called after 3 hours to inform him that I was already in the PACU and instructed him to buy my meds, he went out and came back with 2 grocery bags full of food and drink. He wasn’t sure what to feed me once I woke up, so he bought all of my comfort food- macaroni and cheese, Reese’s peanut butter cups, orange juice, and chocolate jello. The first 2 nights, I had to sleep in a rocking chair, and then on the couch. It was too painful and uncomfortable to sleep flat on the bed. He slept on the floor, beside me. Of course, sleep is an overstatement. Eventually, he told me he had not been sleeping because he would get up every hour or so to make sure I didn’t turn on my left side, or take the bandage off in my sleep. He cooked for me, fed me, did the dishes and the laundry, gave me sponge baths, helped me get into my clothes- he practically did everything for me. On my third post-op day, he went back to work. Although I had to wait for him to get home before I could do anything major, I didn’t have much difficulty because he had already cooked and left me some food before leaving.

Sam did everything for me this week, and never complained. Last night he told me his body had been aching, probably brought about by sleeping on the floor of the living room. And that was the only complaint I heard from him all week. I did tell him he could go to sleep on the bed and that I would be fine on the couch. But when I woke up this morning, he was asleep, thank goodness, but still on the floor.

When I think of how much patience and hard work it takes for him to work and provide for me and then to come home, take care of a debilitated me and do the chores the way I do them, in that excruciatingly ceremonious way, I think of how exhausting it must be for him. And yet here he is, taking care of me, hanging on to that last ounce of patience he has. Shame on me for worrying and doubting his capacity to take care of me. He may not be as thorough as a nurse or as smooth and gentle as my mom, but I know he’s doing the best he can, in his own rough and tough way. And that’s enough for me to say that he’s the best caregiver right now I could ever have. Thank you, my love.

One hour prior to surgery