One thing Gary is not, is a whiner. So when he called me at work the other afternoon to let me know the pain in his abdomen had gotten worse, I knew I had to get home. Fast.
What we thought at first may be just a bad stomach bug had escalated to something much worse. Our wait-and-see attitude had certainly not paid off. (Does it ever?) Gary was in so much pain he could barely walk, and just sitting was unbearable for him in the emergency room.
We waited. For hours. As the pain grew worse.
It is maddening, frustrating, and infuriating to feel that helpless, watching his pain intensify, watching doctors and nurses and staff essentially ignore him as we sat and sat. There is nothing more gut-wrenching than seeing someone you love hurt, and to have no way to put an end to it.
Coming home from the hospital without him was difficult. The bed was still unmade since he hadn’t been able to get up that afternoon. I felt guilty when I looked at the crumpled sheets. I should have known, if Gary hadn’t even gotten out of bed, that his pain was worse than he was letting on.
Gary ended up in surgery to have his appendix removed before it burst. More than once we were asked why we waited so long, and I almost had to laugh. Waited so long? Three hours in the health center and then over four more at the emergency room, practically begging for someone to help him, and they had the nerve to ask us why we waited?
One of the worst moments was when the doctor first told Gary he had to have his appendix removed, and soon. The doctor made it clear our next stop was to be the emergency room and to not waste time getting there. As soon as the doctor stepped out of the room, Gary turned to me and apologized.
He has nothing to apologize for. He keeps apologizing to me as I help him with his shoes, help with his socks, just help him with little tasks that are a tad difficult with stitches in your gut. If there is anything I hope he comes to understand, it is that helping him is not a burden or chore. I will never forget how he tended to me when I hurt my back, and I will never forget Gary doubled over in pain in the emergency room, urging me to go home so I could get some sleep before work the next day, then suddenly bursting out with, “Oh, we never put food down for the cats” and how concerned he was that Rosie, our black cat, hadn’t had dinner yet.
Gary called the kids last night to let them know he was home from the hospital and doing fine. He joked to Sunflower that I keep punching him in his sore spots. I couldn’t hear Sunflower’s response, but Gary quickly told her, “No, no, I was just kidding.” Then he whispered to me, “I think you are about to get your ass kicked.”
Uh-oh! Between now and the next time the kids are home, I need to make sure Sunflower knows for sure her daddy was just kidding. Thanks, Gary!