When Bond, my husband’s piano teacher, learned that I’d torn my Achilles tendon and after the reattachment surgery I’d be house-bound, lying in bed, he texted me: That’s romantic!
Romantic? I scoffed at the idea. My left leg from toes to knee was encased in a stiff cast and elevated on pillows. I could not walk, or shower, or drive. I got around, such as I did, on a knee scooter that Ed, my husband, got me because crutches hurt my underarms too much. Believe me, sex and romance were not the first thing on my mind.
When the sutures were removed, instead of starting PT and walking like I’d expected, I got the awful news that the wound hadn’t healed, but had died, the skin was black and necrotic. That’s when I started visits to a wound doctor. Ed drove me from our place way out in Malibu all the way to Cedars Medical Center near West Hollywood, and then to the hyperbaric oxygen wound chamber at UCLA. Think Ed, from Kentucky and Washington, DC, still new to LA, driving daily in terrible, scary, crazy LA traffic with me in the back seat, left leg extended, the scooter in the trunk. That is notromantic.
About 40 days into our medical nightmare, and I say ‘our’ nightmare because when you’re married and experiencing something this serious, you go through it together as a team, a friend asked me how my ordeal was impacting my relationship, my marriage. By this point I’d had two surgeries, I was still not walking, and there was still no positive end in sight.
I surprised myself by saying that tending to me was bringing out a side of Ed I’d never experienced. Ed and I had married 10 years ago, and before that he’d been a hot shot litigator with Kirkland & Ellis, one of snazziest legal firms. He’d argued cases at the Supreme Court. He was whip smart and super competent. But now when I couldn’t walk and was forced to call on him all day and all night long, even if I needed a stupid piece of tissue, “Ed, could you do me a favor…” he was softer, more relaxed, more gentle, downright tender. It wasn’t that he wasn’t like this before, but he became more so.
That’s not all. Both Ed and I are impatient people. It’s not our best quality. Okay, so it’s a bad quality we share. But during my medical nightmare after I had the awful wound vac removed, and we’re waiting for my third surgery, this time to apply a skin graft, I witnessed Ed morp into a patient individual.
I was phoned that morning and told to arrive at the Cedars Surgery Center by eleven to check in for my one o’clock surgery. We raced through awful LA traffic to arrive on time—I couldn’t afford to miss my surgery--and then we waited and waited and waited. While we waited and waited Ed wasn’t antsy, he never fumed about why I wasn’t being called, he never kept checking his watch. He never got up and poured himself yet another cup of mediocre lobby coffee. He never paced the hallway like I did, whizzing around on my scooter, ringing the bicycle bell on the handlebars to amuse other patients and their families who were also waiting.
Finally, at 1:15 an associate of the surgeon’s came out of the OR and explained the delay. The surgeon had an emergency; he was still in surgery. He apologized. I could still have my surgery later, at five or six. Since I didn’t want to the surgeon’s last patient of the day, I opted to return the following day.
Ed didn’t fume and protest, “But we raced her to get here on time! We’ve waited all day…!” Instead on our way home we stopped in at a paella restaurant and treated ourselves to some favorite seafood paella for a late lunch.
One-hundred and fourteen long days after I tore my Achilles tendon, and three surgeries later, I’m finally starting to walk, hobbling is more like it, and Bond, the piano teacher, was right. My negative medical nightmare wasromantic in a way I hadn’t expected. Instead of Ed and I resenting each other and all the inconveniences, and frustrations and demands, it was a opportunity that impacted our relationship in a surprisingly positive and sweet way.