After a vacation injury sidelines Carl’s wife, both the Bosches would prefer to explain with a wild tale of fast living.
How fast can you say “broken tibia”? Not as fast as you can break it. My lovely wife slipped on a condo step the first week of summer while we were on vacation. This has devolved our summer into a tightly circular regimen of soft cast, operation, hard cast, walking boot, physical therapy, and her new constant companion, crutches. That’s just the medical intervention.
Forget about regular living: that’s where I come in. I feel very much like I’ve broken my ankle as well. She’s a good trooper throughout, but it’s easy to detect the frustration. She’s an active individual, the gym, walking the lanes of our country town, dancing. After an initial upheaval of anger, mixed with sadness and resignation, she put on a good face to the public. Initially, we experimented with many fake scenarios to amuse our friends. She favored falling off a mechanical bull (we did spend a long weekend in Nashville this spring), I was definitely leaning toward a poorly performed move on a stripper pole. We ended up with the boring truth. After an evening in North Carolina watching cloggers dance like marionettes with unhinged knee and ankle joints, she simply slid off a landing step in the loft we were staying. I wish we could at least say that we had been drinking moonshine. I am entertained when she says to acquaintances, “I got screwed six times in one day!” Unfortunately, she’s referring to the number of screws—along with the metal plate—that have been inserted into her bionic ankle.
My job has been reduced to caretaker. I make lunches and dinners, prepare the pillows to prop up her leg, bring her medications and drinks. I’ve washed her hair and maneuvered her in and out of the shower (a major undertaking). She re-locates periodically from inside our home to the back deck. I shift all the necessary accoutrements: magazines, books, mp3 player, cell phone, house phone, Kindle, back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes I throw the cat in the mix to keep her company. Last week I drove her to physical therapy and somehow left the crutches lying like a healer’s miracle on the ground in the driveway. It was kind of funny. Kind of not.
I wonder, seriously, if all couples who survive for a long time ultimately come to this Waterloo. One partner eventually fails, the other becomes the caretaker. A chronic slow spiral ensues, drifting into soft conversations over sandwiches and television. The careful scrutiny of placing the correct medications into the weekly pill case becomes an important activity. The help into bed, up and down the stairs. Not going places, the horizons of your activity and interest growing tighter, coiled inward. I remember it happening to my grandparents and now my parents, elderly and less able in many respects. I’m not looking forward to it, but I know we’ll both take care of each other. I can guarantee that for sure.
In three weeks we’re going to Italy. It’s been planned for a year. No matter what I have to do, we’re going. She’s committed to the trip. I’ll try not to forget the crutches.
Read more from Men Over 50.
Image courtesy of the author