Article by Fabafterfifty
I have a friend in her fifties who has re-entered the dating scene. When I asked her how she was getting on , she replied that it was more difficult when you met someone later in life, not because she wasn’t meeting perfectly nice men, but because she was only seeing someone for a second date if she was confident that they had no history of family health problems!
Why? It seems that if she had been with someone for 20 years, and had 20 good happy years with someone, then she would have taken any health problems mid-life onwards as part of the package. What she didn’t want was to meet someone and have only 18 months of good times with a lifetime then spent being a nurse. Oh!! I have to say, that I can see her point, but having met my husband myself in my forties, it did not occur to me to ask him about his medical history. Was I being naive?
How would I respond if my (relatively new) husband became ill or infirm?
I would like to think that I would adapt.
In a sense I had a taste of what it could be like last year. Expecting a call from my husband to say ‘I’m on my way home put the dinner in the oven’ following his game of tennis, I received a call instead saying ‘meet me in A&E’!
Being a former medical doctor he knew immediately that he had severed his Achilles tendon. I have to say that I had no inkling at the impact that this would have on our lives over the coming months. Due to the location of the tendon tear, he was advised not to have surgery, but to have it repaired by remaining in plaster initially, followed by a plaster ‘boot’ – for a total of 4 months. The angle of the plaster setting meant that he could only ‘hop’ and drag himself around on his crutches.
It is absolutely true that doctors make the worst patients!! He is an incredibly active individual and his frustration at not being able to do all his normal activities was taken out on the closest person to hand- me. Our house is on different levels , which made it logistically difficult for him to get around, and the fact that he needed me to drive him to various parts of the country to get to his business meetings put me under pressure with my own work. Never having had children of my own, I was not used to ever having had to cater to someone’s needs to that level. He also became fussier, and after a particularly stressful day, when he heard three clinks of ice go into his glass as I poured him his Friday Scotch and Soda (‘aperitifs’ are normally his domain to prepare), he helpfully pointed out that he normally only had two ice cubes in his scotch, so could select the 2 best looking ones and throw the 3rd one away, I thought of several uses for the 3rd ice cube!
The only thing that kept me going was knowing that there was an end date. Once he was out of plaster we both needed a break, so off we went to the South of France- where I was hoping to have a well deserved rest. I couldn’t believe it when on the second day he tripped , severed the tendon again but this time needed surgery( in a French hospital) After the surgery and the logistics of getting him home from France in plaster we started the 4 month saga all over again!
Again, I could count my way down to an end date, but it has made me think of how difficult it must be to adapt to life with someone who is immobile or restricted on a permanent basis. It certainly changed the dynamics of our relationship for a while- he was frustrated and bad tempered and I was constantly exhausted. It did, however, make me develop a healthy respect for long term carers!
Presumably on a long term basis (although for me the whole Achilles saga lasted 9 months which seemed like an eternity) you would arrange better facilities- adapt the house, have a disabled badge for the car, develop a more structured routine etc. Coming to terms with the lifestyle compromises is more difficult.
I would like to think that this episode has made us closer and stronger as a couple.
Even my friend’s questioning of medical history couldn’t have helped in this case. Food for thought though!
Any polite suggestions for additional ice cube uses welcome!