I’ve been the caregiver for my wife, Cupcake, since she escaped from CHI St. Vincent hospital in Little Rock, where she had a heart valve replaced. And I thought Marine boot camp was rough!
But I volunteered for it and marriage. Taking care of Cupcake is my obligation, and I’ll do it as long as I’m able. It has been a learning experience.
We left the hospital with a walker, a bunch of prescriptions, and something not diagnosed at the time. My sister loaned us a shower seat and picked up a locking elevated toilet seat for us. My contribution was what I thought was a strong back, but it was more like a weak mind.
I soon developed an appreciation for the nursing profession. Our first night back home, I was looking forward to us sleeping in our own bed. Didn’t happen. Cupcake sleeps on her side, as I do. Nurse’s instructions stated she was to sleep only on her back for six weeks, so’s not to aggravate her surgery. So we both slept – or tried to – in our recliners.
At 1:30 a.m., Cupcake needed a bathroom break. Getting her up from the recliner to the walker hadn’t been well-planned. My back wasn’t that strong. She ended up stuck between two chairs. A fall could be fatal. I called 9-1-1 .
The response by a male and female EMT—both husky—was quick and kind. They showed me how to lift a heart-surgery patient to her feet, using my weight without breaking my back or injuring her incision. They gave us suggestions of how to make it easier to get her from her chairs by adding pillows for her to sit more elevated. They said a wheelchair would be a great help.
The next day I bought a wheelchair. It cost more than my first two cars—but it has been worth it. I know females just don’t think like males. I’ve lived alone between wives several years in my adult life, not giving the difference much thought. Until now.
Take throw rugs for example. Must be a female nesting thing because I’ve learned to hate them. They’re not logical. Why on earth, would you put a piece of rug over perfectly good carpeting—except for someone my age to trip over. That has happened often.
My joy came when Cupcake’s “return home safety instructions” mentioned getting rid of throw rugs—starting with the one at the front porch entrance—which was the only one I could see that was practical. Even though the call button at the hospital was sometimes so far away Cupcake couldn’t reach it, the slogan was: “Call—don’t fall.” Getting the rugs out of her house paths, so she wouldn’t trip, was a job I did gladly. Not counting the two under our recliners and one in front of our computer desks, I counted 15 chances to trip. With great delight, I chucked them into several piles where they will remain until Cupcake recovers. Maybe, they will disappear on my burn pile.
One of my recent chores has been the laundry. I didn’t realize how many different towels a female needs. It’s shocking since I’m still operating on Marine Corps issue—two bath towels and two washcloths Marine green—with a “more is less” philosophy. So, other than what I’ve mentioned, why would a female need fingertip towels, bath sheets, hair wraps, bath wraps, beach towels, hooded towels—all in various colors and sizes. And, of course, they all have to be folded and stored neatly in a closet. That has changed under my laundryship to assorted piles Cupcake can sort out later.
Another female thing must be pillows. “Pillows, pillows everywhere to be moved if you want to sit.” They did come in handy when Cupcake needed to be elevated for better access when getting up from chairs. But some might be due for cremation.
Now, I wonder if the Marines has a place for an 86 year old because what I’ve really learned is: My wife needs a wife. And a nurse.