For Better, For Worse, & For Lunch

In the past two months, Mark and I have had more than our share of problem solving and character-building. I want my boring life back.

At the end of April, I sprained my right ankle. I do this often. I have vertigo. Vertigo is orthopedically challenging. I have no idea when I wrench an ankle or bump into anything. But I know what to do. I slip on the little ankle brace and keep working out. I do my ankle pumps and work the alphabet on the couch. If you make the alphabet with your ankles, that strengthens them. Fine.

A week later, we received word that Mark’s mom, who had been declining, was not going to make it. We flew cross-country, and were able to be with her before she died. We spent the weekend in California. Three days later, we flew to Minneapolis and had the funeral there. We flew home.

Three days later, I started my two week Europe trip. I had a great time, teaching and speaking.

Appliance Breakdown

While I was in Europe, Mark noticed a strange odor coming from part of the basement. He opened up our standup freezer. Uh oh, the freezer was no longer freezing; it was warming. Bad freezer.

We were no longer cooking for the freezer, so we didn’t lose much. When we spoke that first week I was in Europe, he told me he was just going to leave the freezer there for a while, “and let it hold up the house.” No problem.

The second week I was in Europe, the stove stopped working. When we returned from the funeral, I’d noticed that the clock on the stove had stopped. But we hadn’t had a power outage. When Mark attempted to cook something in the oven, he had to turn on two burners to make the oven turn on. The control panel had died. Nope, this is not going to work.

He went to Sears the next day to buy an oven that could be delivered the following day. He was successful. The nice people also removed the dead freezer.

My electric toothbrush died in Sweden.

Reunited At Last

I was glad to return home. I was tired from my trip, my ankle still hurt, and we had a long weekend, Memorial Day. Time to relax and get back to myself. On Sunday, May 26, Mark went out for a bike ride. I jokingly said, “If you’re not back by 5pm, I’m calling the cops.”

At 2:15pm, I received a phone call from one of his fellow riders. “Mark’s been in an accident. The ambulance took him to Lahey. He was awake and talking.”

I grabbed a book and drove to the hospital. I thought he’d broken a bone or something. I arrived and found one frustrated man in a neck brace.

He was moving his arms and legs and was not in a lot of pain. All good. He was dehydrated—he’d just completed 50 miles of a 52 mile ride and they were not letting him drink anything in case he needed surgery.

There’s Good News and Bad News

The good news is Mark did not need surgery. The other good news is that his helmet has protected his head. The bad news is that he had a dislocated shoulder, three cracked ribs, and a fractured pelvis. He will not be fully weight-bearing for a while, as in about two months total.

Mark was in the hospital for four days. Work? What’s work? I got almost no work done in that time. On Monday when I went to visit, we both napped. I was in the chair. He was in the bed. We were both exhausted.

Time to Go Home

The good thing about all the walking in Europe, especially with my rollator, is that I am strong. It’s a good thing. I have needed all my physical strength. It’s a good thing Mark has great upper body strength. He has needed that for his walker and now for his crutches.

We get home, after waiting a couple of hours to be sprung from the hospital. I need a nap. My vertigo is saying, “What do you think you are doing??”

Mark has my extra walker on the first floor. I bring his his walker up to the bedrooms and leave it there for the evenings.

Everything Takes Longer

Mark came downstairs the second day, and said, “Everything takes longer than you think.” I just about rolled on the floor laughing. Well, yes it does.

There is nothing wrong with Mark’s brain. He is impatient. He is more mobile and capable daily. He wants to be up and moving. And, sometimes he forgets about my capabilities.

I can only do one thing at a time because of my balance. I can only hear out of one ear. So, if he asks me to get something and then he interrupts me, I stop and ask which one he wants. Or, if I’m preparing for my ride to the airport, and he bellows to me in my office, I think there is something wrong. I stop my preparation and run—well, in the only way a woman with vertigo can—to the office door. No, he’s just telling me my ride is there.

Everything takes longer than you think.

For Better or Worse, But Not For Lunch

I am accustomed to a quiet house during the day. I have a rhythm to my days. Well, too bad for me. I’m not going to get my old rhythm. Not right now, and not until he returns to work. I understand when my mother said, “For better or for worse, but not for lunch.” I eat lunch and dinner with Mark. I don’t mind, but it’s an intrusion on my day that I don’t expect.

I expected this in the future, when he retires. He’s not retired now. He has conference calls during lunch. I’m not reading my technical magazines or my books. My life is not mine :-)

Our Community is Wonderful

Our community of friends is supportive and wonderful. They have brought many dinners. Our refrigerator is overflowing with vegetables and fruits. Mark is now able to cook, which really helps.

Where We Are Now

Mark has another four weeks on the walker. I think he will live through it :-) He had his first visit to physical therapy this past week. His physical therapist said that his upper body is strong enough to use crutches. He is so much happier on crutches.

We tried a grocery delivery service. We might do it again while Mark is not able to shop. We normally eat a lot of fish, and we don’t want to buy that once a week!

I am still bringing the garbage out the way I described before. Thank goodness I learned how.

He is able to go up and down the stairs, so he is doing the laundry.

I am trying to stop overdoing. I was just diagnosed with radiculopathy, so we will do physical therapy together. My ankle is finally healed.

Everything Takes Longer Than We Expect

Yes, everything takes much longer than we expected. The healing, the getting into a car (gah, we look like two old people!), the laundry, going up and down stairs, everything.

We’re no longer teenagers, so we expect to take a little while to heal. And, we are in pretty good shape. Mark had already done one century (100 mile) bike ride this summer before his accident. I weight-train, and was building my aerobic capacity at the gym. Neither of us is couch potatoes. It’s a good thing. It would take us longer to heal if we weren’t starting from a good place.

But, I don’t need any more character-building. I am enough of a character. So is Mark. We need boring-ness. Dull, boring-ness. We do not want to live in interesting times anymore. I look forward to reporting that Mark is back on his bike and I am eating lunch alone again. I suspect that Mark is looking forward to that too!

In the meantime, we are together, for better, for worse, and for lunch.

7 thoughts on “For Better, For Worse, & For Lunch

  1. Lisa Crispin

    Johanna, clearly I got way behind on your news! What a horrible series of calamities! So glad that you are both getting better.
    “I don’t need any more character-building, I’m enough of a character”, that is now one of my favorite all-time quotes!

  2. Mark Levison

    Johanna – Ottawa, Canada is a bit far to offer you a cooked dinner and a good glass of wine. I do hope that everyone is finished physio soon and you can return to your accustomed pace.

  3. duncan nisbet

    I’m so glad to hear Mark is slowly getting back on his feet – it sounded like a horrific experience.

    How are his emotional scars? Has he been put off riding in the future?

    Duncs

    1. johanna Post author

      Duncs, Mark cannot wait to get back in the saddle and be on the road. When we go to physical therapy–we go together, because it’s easiest to drive–he’s a bike hog. He takes at least 15 minutes on the bike, which means those of us who also want to warm up on the bike have to do other things. Some of us are slower to walk into PT. (That would be me :-)

      He has no memory of his fall, which is good. I can’t wait for him to get back on the bike either. Mostly because he won’t stop talking about it :-)

      So, no emotional scars that I can tell. This is quite good.

      And, we have figured out how to live together, 24/7, which is not something we had thought we had to learn for a while. So, all around good. Now, we need to get healthy.

      1. duncan

        I guess not remembering is a good thing?!

        Glad to hear he’s keen to get back in the saddle – I could have seen that as being a big hurdle to get over.

        Was the bike ok, or does Mark get to treat himself to a new one?

        Excellent news on learning to live together & I wish you all the best in getting healthy!

        Duncs

        1. johanna Post author

          Mark’s bike is still in an unknown state. The bike store owner is not too busy fixing it, which is an Excellent Thing. Otherwise, Mark would be pushing himself to get back on the bike. This would be a Big Problem.

          Pushing for general health is great. Pushing to get road-ready is a different problem. One step at a time…

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