I admit it: I am tired of being on my back, tired of hurting, tired of being helpless.
I’m tired of feeling a bit groggy. Reading takes extra focus and often the words remain blurry. Despite this, I spent time working remotely this evening in an effort to combat feelings of uselessness. While I can’t go into the office, I can at least do some of my job from my invalid’s bed.
I’m tired of holding my leg up in the air. I do balance my leg against an upended laundry basket, padded with a pillow, but the cast is heavy and my muscles grow weaker without a real workout. I wiggle my toes ever so slightly, just to keep feeling in them.
I’m tired of balancing a dish on my sternum and dropping food scraps onto my neck. Eating has especially been a challenge today; no doubt the delicious turkey soup my husband made with leftovers was a poor choice of foodstuffs to consume while on my back.
I’m tired of the effort required to safely remove myself from my perch on top of the bed, to swing my legs ever-so-carefully down over the edge, and to hop on one foot to the bathroom. By the time I reach my destination, my foot and ankle are throbbing from the change in elevation. These trips are as short as I can possibly make them, because the doctor impressed upon me the need for elevating my ankle to keep the swelling to a minimum and the dangers of the wound draining from the incision sites. I’m trying to balance the need for hydration with the need to avoid unnecessary time out of the stranded turtle position (and just like when we go camping, I tend to sway over the dehydration line).
I’m tired of being in pain. Our first night at home post-surgery, my husband waited for me to wake up to offer pain medication, and the first half of the night it worked very well — but then I slept from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and paid dearly for those 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. He held me while I whimpered and wept in pain for nearly an hour, waiting for the medication to reach its highest effect. Since that miserable experience, he has been living by the clock, setting an alarm to go off every 2 hours and then carefully handing me a 2mg tablet of Dilaudid. This system keeps me from falling into the abyss of misery, but I am in no way pain-free. I suppose that a small amount of pain will keep me from forgetting the seriousness of my situation.
According to the dictionary, the word invalid — /ˈinvələd/ — used as a noun, can mean “a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury.” In this case, I am an invalid wife, and my husband is tasked with caring for my every need. Like many other people, I do not like being in this helpless position. My lack of independence grates against my pride and the way I would prefer to look at myself. But there is another way of using the word invalid, one with a different pronunciation — /inˈvaləd/ — used as an adjective, which means “not valid” and void, null and void, unenforceable, not binding, illegitimate, and/or inapplicable. True, this meaning usually applies itself to legal documents (“the law was invalid”) but as I am held captive by my predicament, and mostly useless to my family and society, the irony of the same-spelled word is not lost on me.
“Calamity Shane” dahlia — photo taken September 2015