Who would have hoped
Rage would turn to grief,
That grief would find comfort,
that healing balm would flow.
O faithless heart, remember this—
All you dream can wither
Or bear fruit. Therefore, take courage
On those desperate nights.
Perhaps joy is on its way.
From Dennis: Fleeting youth.
In the late fall of 2011, I began to wake at all hours of the night. Pain in my left shoulder. Not a dull ache. Insistent, screaming, NOW, pain. Sleep became an afterthought. Little did I know, how long sleep and I would argue the point.
My shoulder told me a secret. “You’ve done something stupid.”
There’s one problem with getting older. The ego gives up later than the rest of the body. It whispers, “You can still lift as much as the young guys. It’s not over yet.”
Of course you can. Don’t let that nagging ache behind your shoulder bother you. Buck up. Work through it. Reduce the weight? Never.
Strength is not a lifetime free ticket. The bill eventually comes due.
Buzz. Wheeze. Bang. The MRI’s lullaby.
I lay motionless in the tunnel. Eyes tightly shut. The MRI equipment banged, wheezed, and buzzed. It’s verdict would be unanimous. No appeal. It’s imagery would clearly show the payment for foolish-old-man syndrome. Later, I got a short course on the mechanics of a torn-rotator cuff from an orthopedic surgeon.
“You know if you old guys keep working out like you’re thirty-five, it’s going to keep my kids in private school. Stop it.”
Like he needed to say that. Then he gave me the options. Or I should say, option. Surgery. It was scheduled for early December.
I was soon to learn rotator-cuff surgery is one of the most difficult and painful recoveries of the orthopedic practice.
The special joys of Rotator–Cuff Surgery
Among other things, it meant the joy of sleeping in a chair, for four weeks, post-op. It also entails a medieval torture chamber of rehab. Weeks in a strap contraption, and of course, the beauty of hydrocodone withdrawal. I told Cathy the news and apologized for being a man. A foolish old man. Suddenly, our first holiday season together looked like a nightmare. Just because I couldn’t stop pretending to be, well… a foolish old man.
From Cathy: An angel arrives
In November, Dennis began complaining of severe pain in his left shoulder. Turned out to be a torn rotator-cuff that would require surgery. The procedure was scheduled for early December. He said it would be a, “piece of cake.”
I doubted it.
He said he was not worried and was sure he would be fine in a couple of days.
I doubted it.
He even drove himself to the hospital. I planned to leave work early and drive him home. One look said all I needed to know. I should have brought my overnight bag and my dog, Mr. Red. He looked awful. Said he felt awful.
I did not doubt it.
Wanting an angel. And life back.
I had to leave the next morning. I had no choice. Work and Red were waiting. Dennis’ daughter would look in on him until I came back with Mr. Red that evening.
That weekend he gave in and finally let me be his servant. A first. After only eight months.
Something told me it was not just pain and drugs. He wanted me there. It was a first step. In between nursing duties, I cooked and cleaned. Things we women do for those we love. It felt good. It felt almost like my home, finally. I knew what I wanted.
I wanted Christmas back. For him. For us.
It was mid-December. His empty house needed something. It needed me… and Christmas.
(Stay tuned for part 4 of 5 of the return of Christmas and light)