Three sleeps. But who’s counting? Joac, my son, gives us a daily phone call to remind us. As if we can forget. It’s now three sleeps until Tex gets his second new hip. It’s been three years since he has been able to walk without crutches other than a brief interlude after his first hip replacement and before his muscles and second hip wreaked such havoc.
It’s been a long time since I’ve anticipated something with such enthusiasm. I remember when I was a child and beginning to pack for camp a week in advance. I portioned out my excitement—I’ll get my suitcase out seven days before. I’ll make a list of what to pack six days before. I’ll make sure everything is washed four or five days before. And then there was the paper and pencils for doodling while travelling. And then there was a trip to the drug store to buy tiny packets of soap and shampoo and toothpaste.
The preparation week came after months of eagerness waiting for one week at camp. Camp was never a disappointment. It didn’t matter what happened. It was a thing. It interrupted the everyday. So whatever happened was exciting. I also think I was an easy kid to please. I made my own enjoyment and then revelled in it.
There have been life events that I’ve looked forward to with almost as much enthusiasm as camp. The birth of my kids comes to mind. Pregnancy is one of the ultimate count downs starting at about eight months or whenever you first confirm that you are going to have a baby. The countdown gets more urgent as you balloon to the point of not being able to walk, or sit, or stand, or lie down without discomfort. At least that’s how it was for me. My body seemed to think it needed 50 or so pounds to make a baby.
The older I get the less anticipation I feel. And it’s not because there have not been remarkable days in my life. Book launches, dissertation defences, graduations, purchasing a Lodge as well as all the events brought on by my children’s lives.
I don’t do countdowns anymore. Not really. Only when I have a project that’s due or a book deadline and that’s not excitement that’s drudgery.
This time, with Tex’s hip and Joac’s phone calls, it’s a real countdown. I don’t know what excites me the most. That Tex will finally be out of pain? That he will be able to walk again? That his hands won’t ache from bearing all his weight on the crutches? That he will be able to get in and out of the van with ease? That he will be able to stop taking so many painkillers? That he will be able to get back on his bike? That he won’t have to depend on his damn wife for every little thing his body won’t let him do?
And I won’t lie. I’m excited that if it all goes well I won’t have to carry all the groceries, put on and off his compression socks, run up and down the stairs a million times, do all the errands and chores…there’s all that as well.
My hat goes off to caregivers. It’s not easy. It can make you grumpy. If you are like me sometimes you want to throw things instead of picking them up.
But mostly my hat is off to Tex. He has born chronic pain and immobility with grace and dignity. He has not lost his humour or his respect. I take back anything I might have ever said about how men don’t bear up to illness and discomfort as well as women. I used to actually believe that until I met Tex and lived with him especially over the past three years. Good job, my man. Three more sleeps and then if it all goes as planned you will be in recovery…getting better everyday rather than the other way around.