As you may know from reading Sam’s recent blog post, I’ve hit a little health snag. By “little health snag,” I mean that I got an emergency right hip bipolar eudoprosthesis—or, in terms most of us understand, I had some kind of partial hip replacement.
Here’s what happened. Sam and I were headed to the Miami Book Fair International to promote our books and play with the Rock Bottom Remainders. Then we were going to fly back to the West Coast, pick up my mom, and fly back east to North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with Maya Angelou, Guy Johnson, and their family and friends. Our usual relaxed holiday pace. I was really looking forward to all of it.
Only we never even made it to the book fair. When I got off the plane in Miami, I was in excruciating pain—like no other pain I had ever felt. Sam and I tried to walk through the airport, but I just couldn’t do it.
The next thing I knew, I was in Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, being X rayed, scanned, poked, prodded, and ultimately scheduled for emergency surgery. It happens that Doctor’s Hospital is near my brother and sister-in-law Dave and Michelle’s home. This was not coincidence—originally we thought this would be a quick visit to the emergency room, so Dave recommended the closest hospital. We thought we’d be out and on our way in a few hours, and on with our adventure.
The universe had a different plan. I really wish the universe had consulted with me.
Ten days later, I’m still here. It turns out that “here” is one of the world’s best orthopedic hospitals (“LeBron goes there, all the teams do,” reports my sports-writer sister-in-law Michelle), and my surgeon’s hands are renowned for being among the best at this kind of surgery. Still, life goals that could be defined—less than two weeks ago—as “kick ass at new job,” “finish book proposal,” and “learn Spanish” have been transformed. A bowel movement is big news, as is locomoting as far as the nurses’ station with the help of a walker. Everyone says I’m doing great, but I’m bored, anxious, depressed, and in pain. I’ve made friends with the palm fronds outside my window, and named them with the help of my niece Sophie. Pepe, Babushka, and Helena welcome me to our day each morning. They wave their big green palm-frond hands and dance for me in the breeze. They remind me of a group of friends, huddled together, gossiping. When the wind blows they look like they’re laughing, raising their hands. I don’t know what I’d do without them. So you see the state I’m in.
The light in the darkness has been Sam. He’s handled the phone calls, the doctor communications—pushing when pushing was needed; schmoozing when schmoozing was called for—and all the details of making our imminent move to rehab. He’s run out for sundries, to do emergency banking, and whatever else might be needed. As we wait for the results of scary tests and word about what the next hours will bring, he’s here.
Tonight we’ll watch some junky TV, and he’ll unfold his little cot. We’ll lie together in the dark room, holding hands across the bars of my hospital bed. Sam’s hands can play a mean blues boogie on the piano. They can make excellent spaghetti sauce. They’ve been known to take out the trash, wipe up a spill, slam the hood of a car in frustration.
But tonight, with the lights low and a rerun of NCIS on the tube and my weird leg pillow and other paraphernalia cradling my suddenly fragile body, he’ll take my hand and say “Goodnight Sweetheart.”
Tonight, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, that hand will be holding mine as we walk through this new storm together, waving away the demons in the darkness.