Sunday, December 13, 2009

Update: The wife, the self, and the work

Eva: she hates being on the shelf. I knew this before, but the sheer depth of her hatred has made itself abundantly clear in the past month or so. She's not supposed to be doing much even now. She needs to be reminded of this on a daily, indeed an hourly, basis. It's a difficult balancing act, because all sit and no work makes my wife go nuts.

To illustrate: Two days...TWO! DAYS!...after she came home from the hospital, Eva announced that she was going to walk up to the corner and get herself a pizza. I told her she most certainly was not, how could she even think of doing such a thing, you sit right there in that couch, woman, and I will fetch hither yon pizza. In response, she assumed a posture I almost never see from her, one that says I'm hearing you but I'm not listening. The more I pleaded and cajoled, the firmer she set her shoulders. I was on my way out with friends to see a hockey game, already not feeling that great about leaving her alone. Pride, exasperation and concern mixed uneasily as I realized as soon as I was out of the driveway, she was going to walk about a quarter of a mile, against every order every doctor in the world would give her, and there wasn't a damned thing I could do to stop it short of hog-tying her to the couch. And so I summoned my foot-down voice and told her she was to turn around the instant she felt any pain.
Needless to say, she made it there and back again with her pizza. She texted me to tell me she was home safe and sound and "feeling it"...of that I had no doubt. She won't tell anyone how much effort that walk took, or how much pain she actually suffered over its course. In her family, it was never enough to succeed against the odds, you had to do it effortlessly.

The ensuing three-weeks-and-change have not been any easier. Oh, she's recovering, slowly; she has a (thankfully relatively mild) infection in at least two incisions, for which she's taking antibiotics, but other than that she's physically hunky-dory. But the limitations the doctors have placed on her (no driving for at least a month, no lifting of anything heavier than ten pounds for six weeks, and so on) are chafing her to no end. Limits are for weaklings, is Eva's philosophy, and one should never dare to suggest that Eva herself is a weakling, invasive surgery be damned.


I'd have made a shitty father.

I'd long suspected this, but the past month has proved it. How you people with children do it I have no freaking clue. Do you have day-stretchers, or something? I haven't had time to even think about blogging in the past week of get up, shovel driveway, go to work, come home, shovel driveway, have dinner, clean up dinner and go to bed. Here I am stealing some time and there's laundry to do, the floors in here are actually kind of scary, the bathroom needs cleaning and hey, Ken, have you looked in that hellhole you call a basement lately?
This bothers me on several levels. I've always known I have a lazy streak a mile wide in me, but having it driven home so forcefully kind of rankles. And let's face it, I don't have near the workload of your typical parent. Not even close. In fact, a week or two of parental burden and I'd probably be capable of murder. I'd call it self-defence, because a month or so of parental burden would kill me.

One cup of coffee instead of two in the morning and around noon I have a real scalp-splitter of a headache. If I lack half an hour or forty five minutes of time to wake up properly in the morning (because I have to, let's say, go out and shovel the driveway) and I'll be out of sorts all day. I'm obviously wedded at least as much to my routines as I am to Eva. I simply can't imagine the chaos of a house with kids, where routines exist only to be laughed at and "down time" is a fantasy more potent that hot sex. I used to snort incredulously whenever I'd read that longtime parents overwhelmingly preferred an hour's sleep to an hour's sex. With my increased workload--which is still an insubstantial fraction of the average parent's--I think I can begin to understand.

Every day this week, I've gotten to work when it was still full dark and it's been full dark when I've arrived home. This normally doesn't bother little old photosensitive me one bit, but lately I've found myself wishing there were a few more than 24 hours in a day.

I've both loved and hated my job since my vacation ended. Loved it, because for the first time I actually missed not being there for two weeks. There are several people there that make my days away from home more than bearable. It's taken nearly nine years for me to believe, in fits and starts, that others might feel that way about me. My boss took his full-timers out for a holiday dinner the day after I got back: the first time I'd been invited, and I hope not the last. The parade of delicious food was nearly endless and the liquor flowed in buckets and I shudder to think what the bill might have been, but it was worth it.

I've hated my job because (are we sensing a theme, here?) there's more to do than can be done. I worked all day Wednesday, my usual day off, doing shelf relines and building displays, and that wasn't even the worst day of my week.
This ad we're running Ristorante and Casa di Mama Pizzas for $2.99. I both love and hate these pizzas. I love them because they're delicious, easily the best frozen pizza on the market. I hate them because the packaging on them blows hairy chunks. They're the only product in my department--probably in the whole store--that's wrapped and boxed. They're packed in fives or sevens (weird) and filling a bunker from empty takes about two hours if you hustle ass. Tedious. Really tedious.
Anyway, last time these were on, I sold more than anyone else in the banner, including all the Toronto stores. And so when I allocated stock for this sale, just before Eva's surgery, I went really heavy. I shouldn't have done that. For one thing, business has died off since then. For another, we have a new lockdown program and our McCain Rising Crust pizzas are on sale for $3.99 (from $7.27) at the same time. Although this lockdown had started when I booked the Ristorantes, I was not and am not used to thinking about sales as twelve week long events. And for a third, I didn't imagine there'd be eight skids of turkeys in my freezer when I booked the pizzas.
It took me hours of phone calls and emails just to get one of my pizza shipments cancelled.
Then, when filling the bunk on Tuesday, I noticed and reported that it was icing up badly and would have to be defrosted soon. Hopefully it'd last through Christmas.

It didn't.

On Wednesday night, the refrigeration alarm went off for that bunker. The computer showed a temperature of 300 degrees Celsius...interesting. The thermometer on the bunker reported -26, right where it should have been. The ice had cut a sensor wire. The bunker had to be emptied and defrosted so the sensor wire could be replaced. Like I had time for this. Like I had anywhere to even temporarily store the pizzas I'd so painstakingly placed in there two days previous.
On to U-boats and into my dairy cooler the pizzas went. I grabbed a large waste bucket, filled it with scalding water, and U-boated it out to my bunker, where I upended it. The water sluiced around, melting some ice, before cascading out all over the floor.

That ain't right.

Somebody, at some point, had rammed that bunker but good with a shopping cart, shifting it and actually cracking the drain pipe. So: pour, mop, mop, mop, mop. Pour, mop, mop, mop, mop. And so on. Lovely day that was. It took about eight buckets to melt the ice sufficiently for our general handyman to even access that drainpipe.

This next week should be better. For one thing, I have no intention of going in Wednesday. I plan on cleaning my heart out here at home. If I get enough sleep Tuesday and Wednesday nights, no matter how much cleaning I do, it'll feel like a day off...


Anonymous said...

Ken: Delete this comment before Eva reads it...

I did the exact same thing with my Achilles. I was expressly told by my doctor NOT to put any weight on it for two more weeks, because I was risking re-rupturing. I did put weight less that 24 hours later (by accident, but I started testing my limits when the accident didn't result in any pain. 7 days later I went camping and wound up running like mad because of a certain bear).

Anyhoo, no problems or side-effects on my side. NOT to encourage Eva (more for your peace of mind) that same week I was reading Scientific American - MIND (great magazine!)

The August issue specifically mentioned that surgery patients that had a "I'm getting mobile come hell or high water" attitude healed 30% faster than those that took a wait and see (ie cautious attitude) towards their recovery.

Of course I interpreted those results and applied them to myself to justify disobeying doctor's orders since I did recover 6 weeks faster than forecast (and this is why you should delete this comment). But...

I really do believe there's something to that study. There's been numerous studies confirming that a positive attitude towards recovery helps, this study indicates that a stubborn aggressive attitude also helps.

However... People can be incredibly stupid when self-evaluating their own health (which is why you should delete this comment). Was I just lucky? I don't know. So I don't want Eva believing that she's smarter than her doctors because I believe (note! believe not know) that this approach helped my recovery.

So what am I saying? Support her when she says she's saying she's fine. Just be that healthy voice of scepticism to hold her back. Even if she ignores you and goes out anyways, she still heard you. Which makes it more likely that if she feels pain, she'll immediately stop whatever it is, and ask for help.

If that happens, resist the "I told you so urge". I am after-all a believer in the aggressive approach to recovery!

Ken Breadner said...

Too late, Catelli, she saw your comment before I did. And laughed. As did I. You're not saying anything I didn't know already, which is why I *didn't* actually hogtie her to the couch.
The brain is a muscle that can move the world...

Ken Breadner said...

Oh, and by the way, Catelli, if I didn't sufficiently convey my sympathy when your Achilles snapped (it hurts just typing that!)...have a heaping helping, okay? Ow. Like...OW.

Rocketstar said...

A full day of cleaning will do you good and fill the heart with accomplishment, cleanse it in a sense; kind of like that nicely mowed lawn.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, it didn't hurt that much. Just a dull ache.

Swelled up like a son-of-a-b though. The whole experience was more inconvenience (which I touched on earlier on another post of yours). Being unable to walk normally hurt me more than anything else. Which is why I found it convenient to ignore my surgeon's instructions. I wanted to walk (and drive myself to work). Boy did he lay into me when he found out!