On Sunday morning as I was lying in bed, admiring the sunlight through the trees and trying to decide whether to have toast with peanut butter or fruit loaf with lemon curd, I heard an enormous gasp. I looked over to see J-man coming out of the bathroom rigid with pain and the colour draining from his skin. The twisted expression on his face was one I recognised – the bastard had just put his back out
and completely ruined our Sunday. He’d done the same thing at Christmas and had a lot of fun on Valium.
J-man and I have an ongoing cold war over his illnesses. He accuses me of not caring enough, and I accuse him of succumbing too easily. I’ll concede: there was one time in a hostel in Dresden, Germany, when he had the beginnings of a tummy bug and I got shamefully huffy. But I paid for that by having nearly three straight weeks of gunk gushing from my trunk every few hours in the villages of eastern Europe (where the toilets are holes in the ground, the flush is a hose and the doors swing outwards).
This time it was totally impossible not to really feel for him when he was curled up in unspeakable pain on the floor, ghost white, gasping for breath and generally looking like we should have signed up for the $2.50-a-day funeral plan spruiked by Ian ‘Turps’ Turpie (may he rest).
But there are still some really insensitive mistakes I made in his care. Let this be a lesson for others who love someone with a slipped disk.
– Do not watch them struggle. I felt a little hopeless and had no idea what I should be doing. So I just stared at him a lot. J-man had to tell me repeatedly to leave him the (beep) alone while he was trying to get his movement back via highly unflattering positions, often involving some level of butt-in-the-airness.
– Do not leave them shivering on the floor. J-man had just gotten out of the shower and only had boxers on, but I failed to notice frostbite setting in.
– Do not lecture about painkiller dosages. Just because you can read the packet out loud, doesn’t mean you should. Quit being a stickler for the rules, Steeeeve.
– Do not make a comforting baked bean jaffle with an entire can of baked beans. It turns out the bread goes really soggy, the bready-saucy package explodes, the jaffle-maker smokes and the patient is left wishing he had married his high school girlfriend.
– Do not forget the injury and whip them with a tea towel as punishment for a joke at your expense, no matter how crude. Or its back to square one for you.