Post-op, redux

It’s been a bit of a role reversal around here recently, by which I mean I’ve been forced to act like an adult while Dave lies on the couch and moans.

As background to this story, I’m probably going to have to admit some of my less desirable tendencies, which include: sleeping late, complaining, and bossing other people around. (Which, actually, now that I see it all typed out like that, kind of makes me look like a bitch. Whoops.) Fortunately, David enjoys: waking up early, being positive and procrastinating, which means that except for fighting over the dishes that someone always leaves in the sink overnight, things tend to run pretty smoothly round these parts. We balance each other well.

Until Thursday, that is, when Dave got vision correction surgery. Yes, it was the same procedure I had done in November, but that was me. Everyone expected me to scream and cry and insist that I was never going to be able to see again and flash warnings of DISASTER! at every turn. But David? He’s generally capable of Handling Shit. He rarely gets sick, rarely whines. He’s usually – actually, always – the one taking care of and consoling me, through illness, through drama, through Top Chef rejection. (Don’t judge – Jen getting kicked off was really hard for me.)

So I wasn’t really prepared when Dave’s mom dropped Post-Op Dave off at our apartment on Friday, following 24 hours of close parental monitoring in New Jersey (what, did you think that they were going to entrust care of The Perfect Child to me right off the bat? please.)

Post-Op Dave was nothing like the Dave I know and love and can force to take out all the trash every week. Post-Op Dave was downright…sad.

The kid appeared to be way more miserable than I had been one day out. His status probably had something to do with the fact that he only received about half the drugs I did (which maybe had to do with the fact that he paid half the price — professional courtesy has its downsides!) And while he was denied the concentrated joy that is a dose of Valium, he was also refusing to take the few painkillers he did receive, for fear that they would slow the healing process. No matter how much I tried to convince him that a few numbing drops here and there does not a blind man make, the kid clung to his stubborness and martyrdom like nothing I’ve ever seen. Instead of taking steps to relieve some of his discomfort, he lay on the futon in our family room, face down, wearing protective goggles.

Why yes, of course I can show you what they look like:


He alternated between shoving orange ear plugs in his eardrums and listening to the television, which he insisted on turning to face the wall to lessen the glare. He slept past 10 a.m. (a first for the kid who didn’t even seem that bothered by his 4 a.m. surgery rotation wake-ups) and napped in the afternoon. The cutest/most pathetic part may have been when he turned over in his sleep to reveal that he had tied one of our pillowcases around his head as a blindfold. Bless his heart.

The sight was so sad I couldn’t even bring myself to capture it on film my memory card (also, the lighting was bad), but this photo will probably tell you everything you need to know.

All in all, the post-op period was probably a good exercise in selflessness and that whole “in sickness and in health” thing. I did the dishes, the laundry. I brought him cold washcloths when the temperature in our unairconditioned fourth floor apartment escalated from Pretty F-ing Hot to Unbearably Boiling. I picked him up a burger from our new favorite place, only making a minor dent in the fries during my walk home.

And now, with the weekend firmly in the rear-view mirror and the bandage contact lenses out of his eyes, he’s started feeling a bit better, and we’ve started going back to our old ways. By the time I rolled out of bed this morning he was already up, shaving off his post-op scruff (a crucial component of Post-Op Dave, to be sure) and pulling on a pair of khakis and a button down. And the kid didn’t even have to go to work. I, meanwhile, plopped myself down in front of my computer for a day of PJ-clad journalism.

Before we know it, I’m sure things will return to exactly the way they were. But I’m still convinced that swapping our prescribed roles every once in a while is good and important — if for no other reason than he now knows how it feels when someone insists on whipping up a smoothie in the magic bullet before noon. That, my friends, is called empathy.


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