It’s been a wet season and our house is surrounded by mud. The sticky kind. The kind that ruins white tees, breaks flip flops and busts knees.
Speaking of knees.
Chris left for eight days to Toronto right after we returned from California. We came home and he turned around and left to be with his family because his uncle passed away. It rained and rained and rained. The kids and I had many adventures adjusting to life back in the jungle including a crazy Sunday morning when a tree blocked our private road and my #4 had to get to practice for a performance.
That story is for another post but back to knees…or one knee in particular.
I went to the airport to pick him and a friend up from the local airport and a flood of relief washed over me. I imagined sunning on our deck while Chris cleaned the poo buckets and sitting in the passenger seat of the car, navigating the roads and life – my favourite position. I thought about taking my friend out the next day while Chris shuttled the kids around. I fantasized about staying on the land for a few days while he did the groceries.
Needless to say, I am now on Day 23 still dreaming about that moment of relief.
The day after he got back, he fell. He fell hard. I blame myself a little because I woke him up to take the dogs for a walk so the cats could come home. It was during the wee hours of the morning that our big puppies yanked him while he was in the mud and brought him down on his left knee. Yes, brought him down on a corner of a concrete cinderblock.
I heard a yell and looked out our bedroom window to see him walk away with the dogs so naturally, I went back to sleep appreciating every second of my husband’s return. I did not have to take the dogs for their little walk today. The cats hurried back in the house. I went to make coffee and Chris hobbled in with blood dripping from his arm and his leg.
Now I am not the type to get queasy with the sight of blood. Ask my kids. I have cleaned many a bloody wound, pulled out a lodged earring out of a bloody ear hole, and kept everyone calm when my eldest broke her nose in the middle of a forest as blood spewed all over her white outfit.
I looked at him as he leaned on the counter and began to wipe the blood off his arm and leg. I also felt a little deja-vu. He had scraped his leg pretty bad on said cinderblock a couple of months ago (again while walking the dogs). Sensing a pattern? Too bad we didn’t catch on quick enough the first time around.
The gist of our conversation:
Me: “Are you ok?”
Chris: “Yes I am fine. I fell. The insert expletive dogs.”
As he wipes away the extra blood, I look at the wound and scrunch up my face and start talking in a neutral non-emotional voice.
Me: “It looks pretty bad. I think you may need stitches.”
Chris: “I will be fine. I don’t need to go to the clinic. Let me just clean this up and stick a bandaid on.”
Me: “I think you should go to the clinic. Take a look.”
Chris takes a flashlight to his wound because, like I said, this is the wee hours of the morning and both knees start to buckle and he almost faints. Chris is not so good with the sight of blood or needles or anything wound-ish really.
My #5 is also there and he looks at it and agrees with me and draws a picture with his hand for his dad describing exactly what it looks like and basically air draws a big hole in the knee.
It’s market day so we need to get going to drop off #2 at work. We vhead to the clinic. I wait to see if the doctor can speak English well in case Chris is a little foggy with the pain and all. Chris can understand him completely and I leave to go pick up the rest of the kids and my beautiful friend who is now in the middle of this chaos.
13 stitches (5 inside and 8 outside) later, I turn on a sort of auto-pilot for the next two weeks. My fantasy staying home all day everyday slowly fades away.
What needs to be done now? Ok what needs to be done this morning? Now what needs to be done this afternoon? And please can someone just figure out the evening for me…
I am a logistics Jedi master and plan my days with the least amount of energy expenditure and meeting the greatest number of needs. I cut out most extra curricular activities for the kids and general commitments.
I say NO because I KNOW.
I know if I continue to force a rhythm that included a healthy fully functioning partner, I will fizzle in a few days. I have done this before. I haven’t said NO enough or tried to keep up my normal and quickly crash and burn, staying in bed and taking a lot longer to recover.
So I do the opposite of the “shoulds” I hear in my head and carve out MORE “me” time.
Yes you heard me right. More time for me in a household depending on me. But that’s exactly the point. I can’t let my tank drain empty especially now that it’s draining twice as fast. I have to fill it twice as fast.
More time alone in the morning. More time to journal and to read. More time to connect with other women and my projects. More time to sleep.
I ask the kids to step it up and they do.
#2 cooks although we all have to accept what she “feels” like cooking even if it’s just salad.
#3 and #5 take on cleaning and animal care like nobody’s business and gracefully accepting that they can’t go to fencing class this month.
#4 helping me with the poo buckets and sleeping over at friends’ houses after late evening practices for her performance. (Shout out to all the friends who let her stay overnight so I could rest a little earlier.)
They keep me company as I run errands. They do the grocery and market shopping. They buy me ice cream when they think “we” need it.
I don’t take on everything and pretend it’s ok. I ask for help and am honest about what I can and can’t do in each moment.
Some days I am Superwoman and in one heroic day accomplish my complete to-do list including going to the bank and being first in line! (Truly a superhuman feat here.)
Some days I am out of breath before I even get to the bottom of my stairs. Not because I am out of shape but because I think about the to-do list and want to melt into the hammock and avoid responsibility.
Kids: “Mom, we have no food.”
Me with a eyeroll: “You exaggerate.”
Kids: “Mom, we have nothing in the cooler or the pantry. Seriously.”
Me: “Are you guys too young to fast?”
Me: “Ok. Ok. Going.”
This is rough for my husband who loves to move and loves to take care of us. He is not comfortable lying down for an extended period during the day. He pushes his recovery by trying to do too much hoping that if he acts as if nothing has happened, it will heal faster. I plead with him to rest and only because my will is greater than his at the moment, he finally relents and surrenders and because he is sick of me and everyone else asking, “Hmmmm…what do you think the universe is teaching you?”
We are moving slow and learning our new dance together. The choreography is a little simple with my husband’s one leg only available and all but we are learning so much how to communicate better and how switching roles helps us appreciate the other more. I appreciate how much he does and he appreciates how much I can focus and can ask for help.
I have gained confidence and he has gained introspection.
We’ve gained an understanding of how important knees are to the body as this injury has humbled us both. We both ask for help from each other and from our community. We ask help from our kids. We recognize the fragility of our bodies and how imperative it is to take care of them.
Whether he likes it or not, the Universe took him out without major damage as a warning shot – slow down and look up more. Actually, look down too. Pay attention and ask for help.
And to also ignore the wife when she asks you to walk the dogs at 4:30am.