The house was dark and cold when I groggily awoke at five this morning and made my way to the bathroom. Waking up early to relieve myself is not all that unusual. I often feel my way to the bathroom in the dark so as not to wake my husband and then return the same way to the bed to catch an hour or two more sleep before the sun begins to brighten the day. But that all has changed recently. Today, as I quietly closed the bathroom door, I pulled on my clothes, washed my face and hands, brushed my teeth. I made my way out to the living room to add wood to the stove and kindle the ashes of the previous day’s fire to warm the house. I then called for my pup Sadie to follow me outside to take care of her morning business as I filled the squirrel feeder on the treeline beside the driveway. I picked up the Bangor Daily News from the box at the curb before Sadie and I returned to the house. The temperature on the weather station read a chilly negative 4.5 degrees. I filled the hot pot with water, ground a single serving of coffee beans, and placed them in the cone filter of the Melita drip on the top of my favorite mug and sat down at the kitchen table to read the paper. Before I finished the first section, a call from the bedroom indicated that there was a more important task at hand.
Our usual daily routine of sleeping in until seven and sharing the morning chores, really all of the chores, changed in the blink of an eye on New Years night when my husband slipped on an icy step while taking Sadie out for her nightly constitutional. Don was somehow was able to limp back into the house, clearly in a lot of pain. He took a couple of Aleve and went to bed in the hope that he would feel better in the morning. The next morning after a painful, sleepless night, he acquiesced and allowed me to drive him to the Emergency Room at St. Joe’s. Five hours later we learned that he had, in fact, broken a rib in his lower back and we were sent home with a prescription for strong pain killers, a suggested regimen of ice and heat and an admonition to “take it easy” for the next 4-6 weeks until it healed. It has become abundantly clear in the past few days that this injury will have a much bigger impact on our day to day life than we were led to believe.
My husband has always taken pride in being able to tough it out and work through the pain of any number of injuries he has suffered over the years. He doesn’t like to shirk his responsibilities and is more than reluctant to ask for help, though he is often the first to offer the same to others. But for now, this very painful injury has got the best of him. Sitting down and standing up are difficult as is getting into and out of bed. Sleep only comes if he lies still on his back throughout the night until the opiate times out. And so I have had to step up to the plate and not only be a caretaker, but also to assume responsibility for all the chores he regularly preforms on a daily basis. It has helped me appreciate anew all those daily tasks that he accomplishes without want of recognition or thanks. Although it means that there is less “free time” for me now and until he is fully healed, I am happy that I can be there for him. I will do it out of love and I know he would do the same for me. I think we make a pretty good team and for that I feel truly blessed.