It’s been two weeks since Thad’s shoulder surgery and I am beginning wear down. How am I going to maintain stamina, not to mention, the right attitude? Unless he has some miraculous healing there will be four more weeks of bathing the two of us, dressing the two of us, and feeding the two of us. If it wasn’t for the humor that peppers our days –
Immediately after surgery, I find Thad hooked up to an electrical cooling system that transports cold water from a container filled with ice and water to a blue cold pack he wears on his shoulder. Two long hoses go from the container and attach to two shorter hoses that are on his blue shoulder pack. The two shorter hoses look like new age cow udders hanging off his right arm! On top of the cooling system is a black shoulder sling and bolster on his right arm and shoulder. It had a smaller bolster that with the aid of Velcro could be attached – well, anywhere. A black exercise ball attached by Velcro to the top of his arm completes his ensemble. We have spent a lot of time trying to determine exactly who he reminds us of. The possibilities are endless: Inspector Gadget (if you remember the cartoon series), a retired transformer, a Darth Vader wannabe, or a Star Trek Borg. See picture below and let me know what you think.
We have had to learn how to hook up the entire apparatus as he will be using this for 6 weeks. The cooling system is easy once you remember which direction the udders have to go. The sling is a bit tricky as it has clips and straps not all of which are used or needed. Taking it off is easy. But remembering what clips into what can be problematic at the end of a long day when we are both tired. Thad and I often quip that, at our age, it takes the two of us to make one brain. It must be really funny watching the one armed retired transformer and a frazzled, brain-drained, menopausal woman accomplish this feat.
Then there is the exercise ball. One of the first things Thad said to me when he came out of the operating room was “Look, Honey, I got my ball back!” It was then I knew that he would be fine. You see, Thad had testicular cancer, not once, but twice. He is often asked if he is concerned that his cancer will reoccur. He always replies “No, I am out of balls!” This little ball has provided us with many moments of laughter. Like when I tell him that if he doesn’t do everything Nurse Loretta says; I will take it away from him!
One of his first nights home from the hospital, our good friend, Jan brought us dinner. What a blessing. We asked her to join us. As she and I were serving the fettuccini and meatballs, we both simultaneously realized Thad might not be able to eat it because of his right arm and hand being in the sling. She was mortified and apologetic for causing a problem rather than helping. I figured it could be a scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels where Steve Martin acts like he is Michael Cain’s brother who is mentally challenged. In the movie he acts addled brain when eating; nearly poking his eyes out with the fork. I told Jan not to worry and I offered to feed Thad. But Thad was nonplussed. He merely picked up the fork with his left hand and began to twirl it in amongst the fettuccini like a true Italian. Not a drop of sauce went flying, not a bit of pasta flung around his plate. And he managed to get it into his mouth. Well, that was like waving a red flag and challenging two bulls. Jan and I both picked up our forks with our left hands and proceeded to send fettuccini and sauce all over the table! Who needed to feed who here?
What a wonderful unexpected joy to laugh spontaneously at the little things that make an awkward or difficult moment easier. If we look at only the difficulty in our lives, than that is all we see. But if in the midst of those difficult moments we can find a bit of humor, a slice of sweetness, a cup of love, than life is endurable, doable, and even surmountable.
Proverbs 17:22 New American Standard Bible (NASB) says:
22 A joyful heart [a]is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Yes, after two weeks it’s hard to imagine another 4 with the sling and bolster. When its overs, we’re going to take it out back and shoot it. But between now and then, I look forward to the laughter that has yet to come.