"Constant togetherness is fine -- but only for Siamese twins."
-- Victoria Billings
My wife and I cooled our heels in the waiting room, listening for her name to be called. Ennui closed in like a smothering fog, muffling the sound of the occasional cough. Whose idea was it for us to be here with all these sick people?
Hoping to stave off the virulent boredom, I randomly flipped through a brochure. Glancing at the images of artificial joints, I thought: so this is what we have now come to. And: my wife will soon be bionic! How cool is that?
It's a painful fact that my wife and I have arrived at the point in our lives where joint replacement surgery has become a topic of conversation. This has also brought a couple of new guys into our lives, namely, Art and Ben. Art as in arthritis, and Ben as in Ben Gay.
Our visit to the orthopedist's exam room was eerily similar to those of the obstetrician's exam room a quarter of a century ago. My wife spoke of her discomfort. The doctor commiserated, but said that little could be done other than to let time and Nature take their course.
The difference is, back when my wife was "expecting," the time horizon was just a matter of months. It appears that it will be much longer than that before this current situation is resolved. This despite my solemn assurances to the orthopedist that I would faithfully grease any and all zerks on my wife's new knee.
I took the opportunity to ask the sawbones some tough questions. It seems that the only sure way to steer clear of osteoarthritis is to:
- Never use your joints
- avoid aging; and
- choose the right parents.
The doctor recommended that my wife take some time off from her job to allow her painful knee to rest and recuperate. This prescription came with a major side effect, specifically, major amounts of togetherness.
Back when we were newlyweds, my wife stayed at home as we struggled to make a go of it as dairy farmers. There were always a million things that needed to be done on the dairy, and before we knew it we'd had a couple of kids. Our lives became so busy, our daily conversations were reduced to grunting at each other when we happened to pass in the hallway.
It's been some years since my wife transitioned from stay-at-home mom to full-time wage earner. I have discovered that unharnessing a workhorse from the plow doesn't mean she will immediately quit pulling.
The first few days with my wife at home were great. All the laundry finally got done and the living room carpet suddenly became much cleaner. Cobwebs disappeared from the high corners and the dishes got washed and put away.
I came into the house one day to find a pile of bulging garbage bags sitting near the door. "What's this?" I asked.
"Oh, I was just going through some of my stuff. I'm throwing out things that are old or no longer work."
I made a mental note not to sit still too long lest I find myself encased in a Hefty bag and sitting by the door.