In my early years as a mom, we had some interesting times. Kids were premature, concussed, broke arms, had seizures, you name it. I developed a mantra that went something like "thingswillimprovewithtime" and believed it with all my heart.
Things DO improve with time, but not very much. I'd say last week was an exciting ride of ups and down, but, frankly, after the lovely 4th, it was nothing but downs. Family issues seemed to dominate the down-spiral, my husband's mother is in end-stage Parkinson's, my oldest is again deployed and hating it, and everybody seemed to be sinking rather than swimming.
So John and I decided to take a couple of days and sail to Rosario. Rosario is a little harbor in the San Juan Islands where you can veg out for a couple of days, char a steak or two, and just generally take things down a notch. Last Wednesday morning we were getting things at the house shut down for a few days of R&R when the bell tolled.
John was in the greenhouse, a primitive little bundle of PVC and metal that we bought in kit form and built ourselves. We're growing tomatoes in it right now, and he was checking to make sure the irrigation system was working. We'd eaten a couple of cherry tomatoes, pronounced them heavenly and ourselves the "Tomatenmeistern" of the universe. We didn't want to lose them because we hadn't checked on the drip watering system before we left town, so John was just double checking to be sure all was in order.
I'm in the kitchen, packing up dry goods for the galley when John pounds indoors, clutching his forehead. Blood is spurting from a HUGE gash at his scalp-line, his hands and arms covered in blood. He had banged his head on the handle of the roof vent that he'd just opened. He saw the look of horror on my face, and promptly fled outside again, hoping to keep the blood outdoors.
A chase ensued, with me clutching the telephone and ordering him to sit down. John just kept checking the gash to see if the bleeding was slowing - and paced, paced, paced. I dialed 911.
John wouldn't sit down for love nor money, nor any other seemingly rational reason. I spoke with the 911 operator, and she suggested she talk to him. I handed the phone over to her and the next thing I knew, my husband was sitting down and taking orders from another person.
While she was talking to us, she also notified the EMS folks that she had a person with a gushing head wound that showed some signs of abating. I didn't thing it was abating but John did.
Within a minute or two, the paramedics arrived and took over. They did appropriate wound care, and John's bleeding did stop, but I was still worried that he was in shock. As soon as he was stabilized, I decided that I had pulled myself together enough to drive him to the emergency room so that he could get the wound some proper stitches. The paramedics left, reassuring me that I'd done the right thing in calling 911, subduing my husband, etc.
Have I mentioned that I love paramedics and 911 operators?
To make a scary story calmer, John was just fine after nine stitches. But it begs the question 'just when do things get easier?'
It looks like they never do. That's the problem with love. You care about somebody, marry him, have children with him, share life with him for 33 years, and at some point, you get attached. The love you have for your spouse isn't the same pagan hormonal gut wrenching primal protectiveness you have for your children, but it's just as powerful. The sight of John submitting to orders from a stranger, getting stitched up on a gurney, the paleness of his features and the red of the blood on his face and hair was terrifying.
When my kids had their moments, and boy, they had 'em, I was able to rise up and rip into the moment. You feel anger, fierce protectiveness and enormous adrenalin response. That's what a parent does. When it's your partner, you do have to fight the urge to burst into tears. I honestly don't know the reason for the difference in the response, but there it is.
We used to joke that John couldn't climb ladders with chainsaws. Well, it also looks like he can't grow tomatoes in our greenhouse, either, at least not without a hard hat. But once he was stitched, washed, and had a good night's sleep, we decided to sail on to Rosario anyway.
We needed a break.