I miss Bing. Actually, what I should say is that I miss Bing well.
I miss her being healthy. Because she ALWAYS is. Healthy.
Around Christmas, she said that her back was aching a little bit. So, since she is very health conscious, she cut back on her work out routine, stopped running and walked instead. It seemed to help.
Until Valentine's Day. Then she told me that she was having a lot of pain in her...um...right butt cheek. Pain that radiated down her leg and into the inside of her ankle. It wasn't too bad when she walked, but she couldn't sit down for more than a few moments without intense pain and could only lay down for a few hours at a time before the pain woke her up.
I suggested that she see an internist. She balked. Not her. No sirree bob. No drugs. Not even an aspirin.
This lasted for about two weeks. Two weeks where she slept in the guest room so as not to wake me when she had to get up every two hours to pace away the pain. I woke up anyway. Mother's sleep. Before I had Liv, I slept like I was dead. After Liv, I woke up if a squirrel sneezed in the back yard. I would hear Bing's tread walking around downstairs. Sometimes, I got up to check on her. I quickly discovered that this upset her, she didn't want to wake me...so I started staying put. Awake. But staying put.
We stopped all our usual activities together because she just wasn't up to them. She stopped walking the dog with me, she was fine for a few blocks but then the pain would set in. She and I tried to go to a movie. She ended up standing at the side of the theater. It hurt too much to sit. She could barely drive herself to work every day, so I drove everywhere on the weekends. Not that we went anywhere. She would stand up, leaning against a counter and read. She did our taxes standing up in the dining room while I sat and did the paperwork. Since she was sleep deprived, she took to laying flat on the living room floor. I would put the green wool blanket that she liked over her and a space heater running close by. She could sleep for an hour or two, with the television on.
She started getting black rings under her eyes.
She finally consented to see a doctor. He did blood tests and gave her a MRI. It didn't show much, mostly that two of her spinal discs had compressed. When she brought her ex ray copy home, we compared it to one I had done several years ago. I had four discs compressed to her two. She said she felt like a light weight. I told her that pain is funny. A lot of people go well into old age without even knowing they have a back problem. Some feel pain from the first slip of a disc. Bodies are funny.
So, she let the doctor give her a shot of cortisone in her back. When I had that done several years ago, it helped immensely. It's been 4 days and so far, she feels no relief. But, she says she is sleeping better. And I think she is. I no longer wake up every two hours and hear her pacing. Now it is every four, sometimes five. The rings around her eyes are lessening.
I told her that sometimes those pain shots take a while to work, up to two weeks. She is hopeful.
Her doctor isn't giving her much in the way of pain meds. This annoys the hell out of me, although, truthfully, I think that Bing wasn't honest with him about how much pain that she is experiencing. She is ever stoic, rarely complains. When he asked her about pain, she probably said what she told me: It hurts some. But, it's not horrible. I'm dealing.
This said as she bites her lip hard every time she tries to get up from a chair.
If she were a sedentary person, this would not get to me so much. But, my Bing leaps up steps two at a time, she runs every morning with the dog (and Socks is missing her sooooo much), sprints up ladders and cleans out gutters licketty split and has enough energy for us both on days when I'm dragging.
Our roles have switched, although I am not all that energetic or capable. With my rheumatoid arthritis, I am seldom nimble. I detest going up steps, my knees ache at the top. I have enough pain that I have medication on hand at all times for flare ups.
We are both learning lessons, we admit. We talked last night (and I can't tell you how badly I miss our nights talking, in bed, in each other's arms) for a short while. I sat at the kitchen table, she leaned against me, arm around my shoulder. She said, "I have to say that this pain is instructive. I will never, ever be able to look at you and think to myself that for god sakes, why doesn't she just take a long walk and shake off that pain?"
I looked up at her. "Did you often think that? That I wasn't trying hard enough?"
She blushed, looked away for a moment and then, slowly...nodded.
"But now, I get it," she says. "Pain has a way of just...beating you down. I'm so tired all the time and I just want my life back, you know? I just want to be able to do all the things I used to do without thinking about them. I want to go for a bike ride, run with Socks in the morning, run upstairs and get your shawl when I see you shivering, get the garden ready for you to plant in a couple months. Sleep. God, I miss sleeping for eight hours and waking up feeling like I'm rarin' to go, you know?"
I nodded. Yes. I understood perfectly.
I told her, "You know, I've learned too. I've learned how hard it is to watch someone you love suffer. I hear you wandering at night. I see your face looking so tired, I see you laying on the floor, almost helpless with pain and it KILLS me. I want to help you so badly!"
She smiled. "That's exactly how I feel about you," she said. "When you first had trouble with your back and joints, I used to just ache for the old Maria. I've had to adapt to this version of you. But, you know...you're still in there. You just aren't as...mobile."
We both smiled then and held each other for a while. Said some lovey dovey talk that you don't need to know. Re-connected. Because, this isn't going to take us down. It's minor. But, it is something that we have to endure.
Bing will either get better or she will learn to deal with this new way of living. I will step up to the plate and be the caregiver instead of the one who gets tended to.
It's new for both of us, but we aren't licked.
Still...we miss so much.
And, Bing is absolutely right. Pain, in all versions, is instructive.
So, my question to you is this: Do you have a bad back story? I've come to believe that everyone either has one or knows someone who does? And if not a back story, a health one? How did you deal with it? Did you surprise yourself? Is there a happy ending or did you end up like I did? Just learning to live with what you can't change?