Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Owed to Carla on Valentine's Day

Sure, it's a stupid holiday, crafted in some secret Hallmark lair just to make schlubs like me sneak out to the local Walgreens and drop three bucks on a nickel's worth of paper dripping with faux sentimentality most likely written by an underpaid MFA who's spent the last decade telling his friends he's "still working on that novel."

But, back in my Limpstrong '07 report, I did promise that my wife deserved an entire post all to herself (she does), and with sentimentality on the brain, now seems like the time. Bikey folks who are about to surf away, take heart -- there will be some grisly cycle-crash reporting along the route.

(For those scratching their heads over the title, it's an inside family joke. She'll get it.)

I can't say that I really remember exactly what was said before I left on my May 4, 2007 ride -- who remembers the tiny pre-ride details when the season's in stride? You just go through the routine and pedal away. But knowing my wife, I think it went like this:

Carla: "Keep the rubber side down."
Jason: "I always do."

Except of course, on May 4, 2007, I didn't. A patch of mud, wheels going sideways, hard impact on the right hip, and like that, I'm sprawled out on a trail, one leg turned 90 degrees in a direction it's not designed to turn. Later, I'll learn that it's called a spiral fracture of the femur: a crack that starts at the impact point and propagates down the bone in (logically enough) a spiral. But lying there, all I can think (between expletives) is, "Can I still reach my cell phone?

(This is "Carla Thank You #1", since she was the one who forced my Luddite butt to get a cell phone in the first place. You were right, dear.)

Anyway, 911 operator, more expletives, paramedics, more expletives, yadda yadda yadda. And that's when Carla got the call that focused a magnifying glass on all the fine print under "til death do us part."

Here are just a few of the indignities my dear spouse would have to endure over the next few months, all because of that one moment where the rubber side was most definitely not down:
  • Arriving at the emergency room in time to see that leg aimed in the wrong direction. By that point, I was doped silly on a wonderful morphine/Valium cocktail, so the "legs akimbo" look was almost entertaining to me. Not so for drug-free Carla. But she didn't flinch, didn't get queasy, didn't even break stride -- just hit the cell phone and ran the numbers of friends, family, and co-workers. A first-rate first responder.
  • Practically living in the hospital with me for a week. Ever camp out in a medical extended-stay for a loved one? Then 'nuff said.
  • Navigating the bureaucracy of the Family Medical Leave Act. We have a two-story house. The bathroom and bedroom are on one floor. The food's on the other. Without a live-in spouse, I don't want to think which one of those biological necessities I would have been forced to give up.
  • And speaking of food: the coffee is on the floor with the food. Anyone who doesn't drink coffee yet is willing to make it every morning for an addict who can't get himself out of bed and can't sleep past 5 a.m. due to his self-inflicted pain deserves sainthood.
  • But it's not like she was sleeping anyway. Lying in bed next to someone who wakes up swearing every four hours when his Vicodin wears off? Not restful.
  • Playing nurse... and not in the good way. Think you love your significant other? Try cleaning up a gaping wound that's held together with 13 (count 'em!) staples multiple times a day. And then stick a needle of life-or-death blood thinner into that spouse's belly fat once a day for a week. Words fail me, which is saying something.
  • Dealing with a 200-pound infant. Let's see... he can't walk or bathe himself, and he's perpetually grumpy. Yeah, this sounds like a party.
  • Did I mention grumpy? Let's call it like it was: For much of this recovery, I was, without question, pissed off. Guess who took the brunt of it?
I could go on, but I think you get my drift.

We have a running joke in our family. Whenever I have one of those, "Wait a minute... that's not in the marriage brochure!" moments, the response is, "Oh, it's in the ketubah. You just can't read the Hebrew part." Well, ten years after we inked that deal, my wife showed me what it really meant, in any language.

Happy Valentine's Day to my beloved, my friend. And here's to a less-eventful 2008!


toddvc said...


She deserves a medal.

What are you trying to do -- make us WALK everywhere? For crying out loud, that was one savage injury.

scott said...

Yup--a big medal. And a box full of those fake ones that are really gold tinfoil around chocolate.