This morning my husband woke me to say, “I think I should go to the doctor about my finger.”
With blurry eyes I blinked in his direction, paused, and said, “I’ll come look at it in a second.”
As he left the bedroom I swung my legs over the side of the bed, picked up my phone to see the time, and stretched sleepily as I realized it was time to get up anyway. As I sat there a part of me wanted to laugh. I mean, it was just a little cut. The scene from Monty Python with the black knight entered my mind.
In fact, I had injured myself on the exact same mechanism as him just days before he did. I probably should have warned him. It was one of those treacherous plastic and cardboard weapons they use to wrap around baby dolls. Consider it a Christmas causality or a toy, twist of fate. Regardless of what you call it, it resulted in a gash in the web of my left hand, and another on the meat of his right thumb. Mine had healed almost before the wrapping paper found its final resting place, but his had persisted.
I’m not surprised. He works with his hands a lot, and he had mentioned to me its hesitance to mend. Yet as I stood in the bathroom with him I didn’t see anything that blew my skirt up. Yeah, it was red, with a peculiar white and hard center, but it didn’t look particularly angry. It was slightly swollen, difficult to bend, and he described discomfort that emitted from it.
“Hmmm,” I said as he described his symptoms. “It doesn’t look that bad, though. I think it’s ok.”
It’s not easy having a nurse as your wife, or any family member for that matter. None of my kids had ever entered an ER setting (over my dead body), and even when my four month old had pneumonia and was coming up on her sixth hour with a dry diaper after vomiting, I still tried to ride it out until morning. My poor children had to really be sick for me to take them in, and I floundered between thinking I knew too much for all our good, or worrying I fretted too little.
I was the one who scooped up a choking baby and beat on their back without hesitancy or a change in my demeanor, but I was also the one who probably wouldn’t get too excited about a laundry list of symptoms when presented to me. I was compassionate to a major degree, but somehow also blasé about it all. I mean, I just couldn’t get too worried. I had grown up with a nurse as a mother and should have remembered how frustrating that could be. Sometime as a child I broke my nose, but I can’t be certain of when since no office visit or diagnosis was made. Bless it.
As I sat nonchalantly drinking my coffee I considered my dear husband’s concern. I thought back to the last time he had said he might should go to the doctor. I remember rolling my eyes four years earlier when he had complained of feeling soooo bad with his cold. Man cold, I had thought amused. Until they diagnosed him with pneumonia, that is. Whoops.
The thing was, I was a critical care nurse of fourteen years, and not much got me hot and bothered. By the time I saw infected cuts in my area they had gone on too long, so I went back and looked at my husband’s finger a second time. It still didn’t look “that bad,” but I didn’t feel right about the “tingling” he described that radiated from his thumb and down his wrist. Then I turned his arm over and noted the red streaks beginning to course up his arm.
“Let’s go ahead and get you seen,” I commented calmly.
A couple of antibiotics later and I’m reminded how hard being the spouse of a relaxed, unruffled nurse must be. My eyes, ears, and spirit are always watchful at the intensive care bedside, but I forget that it’s ok to overreact at home too. Poor hubby.