The man I love delights in ribs – but not as much as he delights in me (thankfully). Especially since this summer – May 15, to be exact – he’s enjoyed asking for ribs when we go out to eat. He grins at me as he orders, “I’ll have the ribs.”
That’s because he broke five ribs this summer – including one that was called a comminuated fracture (which means it was splintered). It was a freak motorcycle accident and one that shouldn’t have happened. Fortunately, speed and other traffic were not the cause of the problem. When a man does something stupid, he always wants to figure out why or how it happened. In this case, he knows what happened but still can’t figure out how he broke those ribs by landing on his arm and not his back.
He’s not a good patient. Nor is he a happy camper when the medical folks in his family try to tell him they know more than he does. Not counting him, half of us are trained in the medical field, so we know more than he does. Yet figuring out how to convince him that we know more when it’s his body he’s dealing with is another problem.
So we suffered through his ignoring our cautions. I spent an afternoon with my man in the office of his doctor – in which a near-argument ensued and I snapped photos to show his kids just how upset their father was in the heat of the moment. It took them one look at his face on the photos, and I started receiving texts asking me what he was so upset about. While some patients might enjoy being able to get off work, this man becomes like a caged animal, pacing around and around, trying to find a way out of the prison. Fortunately, his doctor respected him and his “it’s my body” reasoning enough to know how far to push the man, and they came to an agreement. Dave still had restrictions, but they weren’t as limiting as they could have been. I felt validated in my frustration when his doctor told him, “You’re going to be a mess to deal with when you get old.”
While I know I’ll need to suit up for warfare with this man when he’s injured, I’d rather fight this battle than having a spouse who needs to be prodded to do a little bit more. I’d rather have a warrior than a pouter, and I’d rather fight this battle than some others.
There was the day (some twenty years ago) when I showed up at the place he was working and unplugged his power cord. Only when his saw quit working did he even realize I was there. I told him he wasn’t working anymore until he’d seen the doctor. He was feeling badly enough by that time that he acquiesced without arguing. He needed to see a doctor, and waiting a day or two would have put him in the hospital. Those words came from his doctor, and not from me. What could have been dealt with – with less ado -took more time because he hadn’t listened to me earlier. I’m the nurse, but he says it’s his body. For shame. This time, I was right (as I have been a few other times, I might add.)
When he shattered his heels in 2004, I spent my days trying to keep him at home recovering. One day he sneaked out of the house, slid down the steps on his bottom, loaded his wheelchair in the back of the jeep (on his knees) and visited the school to have lunch with one of his kids because he was so bored at home. We disagreed constantly. I’d say, “You shouldn’t be doing that,” and he’d reply, “Watch me.”
When this accident happened, I knew what I’d be facing, and prepared my armor for battle. When you know your man, you know how to counteract his maneuvers, or at least you know how to try the counter attack.
I’ve learned to count my blessings. He could have broken a leg or his back or had a concussion. It was only five ribs, and he recovered – after arguing with the pulmonologist about whose body was healing from those ribs. After hauling fifty-pound bags of cattle feed by one arm out to the pasture and not allowing me to do it for him. Oh yes. I will always be the protective nurse and he will always be the “don’t tell me I can’t” motorcyclist. We count our blessings.
Yes, a cast or crutches could have been the order of the day. Instead, the accident got the ribs.
After being cleared by the pulmonologist three months later, we enjoyed riding a cycle together across three western states. One evening in a restaurant, Dave again told the waiter, “I’ll have the ribs.”
Now we smile and remember how good God has been. When he orders ribs, he grins at me. We remember how we disagreed on what he should and should not do. We remember the nights of my massaging his back and positioning his side and back with pillows in just the right places. We remember not being able to hug tightly because of his pain. We thank God for how our bodies have been created to heal so miraculously. And we remember. Oh, how we remember how good God has been.
There’s a whole lot to his statement when he tells the waiter, “I’ll have the ribs.”
My man will never order ribs again with us remembering once again how good God has been.