The love of my life had spine surgery on Thursday. He now has a titanium cage between vertebrae C3 and C7. By the time I got back to see him, he was barely starting to come out of the fog of anesthetic. He had that brown goo on his neck and face that sanitizes the area to be worked on. He had a bloody trickle running from a wound on his head that I learned was where they’d bolted his head to a brace to keep his neck still while the doctors worked. He wore oxygen, a hospital gown, and had IVs and sensors sprouting from multiple places on his body.
The nurse who was keeping me informed told me where he was, but did not tell me that I could go back to see him. So I had waited at home for several hours. Then I went back to the hospital and waited another two or three. The receptionist kept telling me that someone would call her when it was time for me to go back. My back was aching from sitting in those crappy chairs, and I hadn’t eaten since 7:30 or so. I thought I’d have time to grab something when I headed back to the hospital.
When I was about 5 to 10 minutes out from the hospital, the Dr. called me. He told me that the surgery had gone well, but that there had been more bone pressing on his spinal cord than they’d realized. It’s going to take some time for him to heal, but things couldn’t have gone better.
Drew was trying to joke with me, but he was hurting so much. He’d randomly tell me, “I am Groot!” When I asked him what he was talking about, he’d chuckle and say, “I am Groot.”
I was holding his hand and telling him about all the good wishes people were sending for him. He started talking about the pain, again, and then he just began to weep. “It hurts so bad,” he’d wail. It was tearing my heart out. There was nothing that I could do for him. So I stroked his head, and got him a cold cloth for his face. I’d spoon feed him ice chips as he asked for them. When his food finally came, I helped him to eat it.
He has been very emotional off and on. He broke down the second night and told me he was so sorry. He was supposed to be the strong one for me. I told him to stop it. This is what it means to be partners. “You took care of me when I needed you. Now I’m taking care of you when you need me.” I stayed with him last night. Neither of us got much sleep. I’m home now to take care of my dogs and to take the meds I was supposed to take last night.
To have and to hold, from that beautiful day in May of 2015, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…” I said those words 30 years ago and heard them said back to me. We repeated them dutifully as instructed by the pastor. Only now do I know what those words really mean.