Body Betrayal

He sits across the room from me in a recliner, blue cast propped on two pillows, water jug filled at his elbow, computer on his lap while he taps away at work. Beneath the cast, two new plastic screws hold a tightened ligament in place and stitches along his ankle outline the incision used to remove a damaged bone. His life has been realigned and redefined by this injury.

In short, he’s a bit miserable and yet focused on the recovery needed to return him to life as he loves it. 

Me too. Because I’m his “nurse.”

She lays atop blankets, unable to move much for fear of upsetting the tentative “peace” of her digestive system. At the foot of the bed, her baby sits before a video, with his own body being initiated into the confusing tumult of intestinal flu.

In short, they are miserable, yet focused on the recovery needed to return them both to life as they love it.

Me too. Because I’m their “nurse.”

I confess that I’m not always a great nurse. In my younger years, I actually enjoyed caring for my kids and making their various owies and illnesses better. But at times, I resented the rearrangement of my plans and work and schedule. And I’d grow growly over having to grab ice packs and coffee and meds and this and that for my husband in his occasional illness. (Really? Now I have ANOTHER kid to care for?)

Today, I’m somewhat better at caring for all. I find myself rising to the occasion of being needed and necessary. As long as it doesn’t go on forever

Last week, I returned from holding and washing and sponging at my daughter’s home to continue the care-giving in my own home with my dear husband. It felt fine. I felt fine. Until my tummy rumbled and I was flattened onto the couch (hopefully far enough away not to share the loveliness with my recovering husband in the other room).

I was miserable, yet focused on the recovery needed to return me to life as I love it.

Through one long night, my “nurse” clomped out on crutches every now and then to see if I was still breathing. Another “nurse” texted repeatedly, horrified that she had shared such an undesirable “gift” with me. Sweet “nurse” friends commented and encouraged and prayed on Facebook, entertaining me as I endured the night. (Thank you!)

To be sure, none of my family currently has terminal cancer or a traumatic brain injury or some other life-altering illness that defies recovery. No, the infirmities swirling around and in us are the normal stuff of body betrayal when we’re interrupted from our familiar ways of independent living and forced to stop, to bend and receive the help of others. 

Still, something about the process of body betrayal and body recovery, stitches lessons of how to nurse better when it’s our turn. Because we’ve received, we know better how to give.

Today my husband continues his healing. My daughter and baby are back to normal. Me too. We helped each other through.

Wait. My daughter just texted that her older son is camped out by the toilet on his bathroom floor. Here we go again. Needing each other while we focus on the recovery needed to return to life as we love it. Faithful bodies helping physical bodies that betray.

Suggested resource: The Beauty of Broken by Elisa Morgan

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