The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


July 11, 2013

Post-surgical pain largely belongs to the caregiver

ENID, Okla. — The surgery didn’t hurt a bit — well, me, anyway.

My bride had to have her knee scoped to clean up a torn meniscus, which, she proudly declares, puts her in league with Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook.

So the hospital calls and says we’re supposed to be there at 5 in the morning. Frankly I wasn’t aware there still was a 5 in the morning. I thought they had outlawed it years ago.

But, lo and behold, it does, indeed, exist, and there we were, right on time. And we only had to wait about two hours before the surgeon showed up. He talked to us in the pre-op room. He was trying to be reassuring, but his words were frightening.

“Are you ready to be the chief nurse?” he asked me.

I thought he meant right then, but, of course, he meant later, and that was more frightening still.

As my bride will be the first to tell you, I can’t even take care of myself, much less anyone else. But after the surgery I did manage to get her into the car without shutting her leg in the door.

Then I got her home and helped her into the house. It was then that things went bad.

“Stop hovering!” she said, after I asked her for roughly the 100th time whether or not there was anything she needed or wanted.

It seems that by trying to make her comfortable, all I managed to do was make her uncomfortable. As you might expect in the wake of surgery there has been no small amount of moaning and groaning, but it has all been coming from me.

She wanted soup for lunch. I immediately wondered aloud what kind of soup they served at McDonald’s, but she said I would have to make her soup.

I broke into a cold sweat. She calmed my nerves by assuring me that any idiot could fix soup. Thanks, honey, I think.

Open the can, dump contents into Corning Ware dish, put said dish in microwave, nuke soup for a couple of minutes, take spoon out of drawer and, voila, lunch. I was exhausted. It was time for a nap.

After nap time it was time to hook her up to this cryogenic doohickey that ices sore joints by circulating cold water. I panicked. It is a device, with instructions. I was doomed.

But we figured it out, through trial and error (and no small amount of spilled ice).

I thought I was home free, but it was approaching supper time. I was trying to decide whether our evening’s fare would be burgers and fries or fries and burgers when she dropped another bombshell. A friend had brought food, which I would have to warm up.

Cook? Me? Real food? It was time to pop a painkiller. For me, not her.

Slowly, painfully, she walked me through the process, each step punctuated by my plaintive questions, “How do I do that? What’s that mean?”

Put the dish in the microwave, punch in the time, push the button, wait until it beeps. Take it out. Show it to her. It’s still frozen. Put it back in again, repeat. Will this hell never end?

I warmed up a pre-prepared, frozen dish. I poured already chopped lettuce into salad bowls. I cut up a tomato on top of the lettuce.

I spooned some cottage cheese into a bowl. I brewed a pitcher of iced tea. I set the table. I put the food onto the table. I felt like Paula Deen before her world caved in.

My bride coached me every step of the way, talking me through the whole meal. I felt like Dana Andrews’ character in the 1957 film “Zero Hour,” in which Andrews played Ted Stryker, a former military pilot who is a passenger aboard an airliner on which many passengers, and the entire flight crew, are stricken with food poisoning. All who ate the fish are rendered ill and unable to function, so Stryker, who had something else, is called upon to land the airliner, with the help of a trained pilot on the ground, who talks him through the process on the radio (yes, the comedy “Airplane,” is a spoof of this film).

So there I was, flying blind, trying to bring the meal in for a landing without crashing, all the while secretly wishing I had eaten the fish.

But she said it was delicious. I’m thinking of writing a cookbook, “Warming Up Stuff for Dummies.”

After the meal I was ready to trundle off to my recliner to fall asleep in front of the TV, but there is a great deal of pain involved with recovering from surgery.

I had to do the dishes. Since we used paper plates and bowls, that wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

The second day was better. I made it through breakfast relatively unscathed, largely by repeating over and over, “First the cereal, then the milk.” Lunch was a frozen thing stuck in the microwave for a few minutes.

As I write this, I face the daunting challenge of yet another dinner. I am trying to fight down the fear.

And then there is the whole nursing thing. Nobody told me there would be blood.

The whole ordeal has been a terrible, painful, nerve- wracking struggle.

And she has had a few tough moments as well.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at

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