Twenty some years ago, I got one of those unexpected calls that makes one’s heart clench up. Cliff was pretty shook up when he called to let me know that he had been in an accident and was in the ER at Greensburg. Due to the sun setting, he did not see a truck coming from the west and pulled out in front of it. No one was seriously injured, thank you God. Other than a few stitches, his big injury was his knee. Seatbelts were an almost forgotten accessory in vehicles then and was more apt to get in the way in the ranch pick-up than be an asset. This lack of action resulted in Cliff’s knee getting wedged between the regular gear shift and the 4 wheel drive one. Cliff learned that if a body is catapulted out on to the hood at the same time, it tends to tear the dickens out of one’s knee. Such began an amazing adventure in his body and our marriage.
Care giving has not been one of my strong suits. I have been the mom, who will kiss a boo-boo, but then figures if bones aren’t sticking out and blood isn’t gushing, we are good. We ‘suck it up’, ‘shake things off’ and talk about ‘spitting on it and rub some dirt in it.” We were assured the surgery to repair it would be no big deal. Since Cliff’s knee is a long way from his heart, I had no doubt he would be fine.
Everything went like clock-work until the doctor came in to give his post-op update. Cliff freaked out everyone during surgery when he suddenly woke up. He sat up and grabbed his leg they had strapped in a cage. The quick acting anesthesiologist zapped him with something to lay him out cold.
When the nurses brought him to his room, he had such a hard time coming around. They were insistent that he was to wake up NOW and I was to force a cracker down him. I finally got him to bite the corner of it, but then he went back to la-la land with mouth slack. That cracker corner floated around in there for longer than I could believe it could without dissolving. Finally 3 nurses came in and he was leaving, no matter how gone he was. I tried to explain, but no one would listen to me. ( Now I would have thrown a hissy fit of epic proportions.) They poured him in our pick-up and waved ‘bye-bye’.
On the road he got sicker than a corner of a cracker warranted by far-twice. Thank goodness he slept for most of the hour trip.
We got to the little burg of Ford, KS. A road block had been set up due to a prisoner escaping from the jail in Dodge. I pulled up and stopped in front of a mean-looking deputy with a rifle, who had that spread legged cop stance across the road. This was when Clifford decided to jolt awake from his coma. His automatic response was to panic. He knew I had done something of such proportions that the National Guard was being called out. It did not help that officers were swarming the bed of the pickup and were looking in at the floorboards. I finally got through to him that I was innocent. It would be hard to be Bonnie when Clyde was unconscious. Cliff calmed down. As they processed other cars, we sat there a spell , which opened a new can of worms.
“Where are we?” Cliff wanted to know.
“Well, we are at Ford.”
“This is NOT Ford, Kansas!” (Oh great he was not in his right mind and up for an argument!)
I pointed towards the water tower. “See, it says “Ford” right there.”
“I don’t care what it says. This is NOT Ford, Kansas!”
“Then where are we?”
He had an accusing tone like I was part of a some kind of conspiracy. “I don’t know where you have taken me, but this is NOT Ford, Kansas!”
I finally conceded and said “Ok, it’s not Ford, KS. Just go to sleep.”
The rest of the trip he sacked out until we got home. Once he was settle and back out of it, I learned that we had cattle out all up and down the highway that ran by our house. I remember chasing those cows as fast as I could in my shorts and flip-flops through the ditch. As I ran I screamed as loud as I could “Any rattlesnakes out here, get out of the way because I don’t have time for you to bite me and in the mood I am in, one bite and I would poison you!” They must have known I was serious and took out for their holes, because I survived the snake gauntlet our place was famous for.
Cliff was to be immobile for 10 pre-remote control days. He was miserable and bored to no end. I had my hands full with 3 little girls and all that went with keeping things going on the ranch. At one point, I was frying chicken with a screaming Misty on my hip. The phone was ringing. Cliff was hollering for me to change the channel. I finally lost it and said the fateful words, “I will never go through this with you again!”
Fast forward to today. My words have come back to haunt me as we are ‘never going through this again” for the 5th time. All the others have been rather anti-climatic compared to the first. Cliff is a much calmer patient, but loves to watch the eyes of the new anesthesiologist as he tells his dramatic horror story. He told us that he hates two things: needists and dentists. “Needists” I figure out are ‘needles’ whose root comes from the Demoral language. It also loosens the tongue. He apologizes for putting me through this so many times. Me? What is he talking about? But, that is how he is. He’s always more concerned about his family than what is going on with him. I just wanted it over for him,so he can do what he wants without pain.
In a mere two hours after he left to go into surgery, he was done and a nurse called him “Daddy Long Legs” as she wheeled him out to the car. A stop at Walgreens for pain pills inspired me to do an impulse buy for him of a new KU t-shirt, a case of Diet Dr. Pepper and a Suduko book. In no time we get home to the quiet and his recliner. I would never wish Cliff to be confined to his chair, but for the moment I am going to enjoy the blessing of being able to spoil him.
It’s not so bad for God to humble one. It makes me realize once again the blessing I have. Afterall I still ‘needist’ Cliff a lot.