Scott and I were having a relationship at the hospital, which, as it turns out, is not the best place to get to know one another. We knew commitment on a level that most people who had just begun dating would never come close to. We didn’t, however, know each other’s quirks or the things that could potentially make you crazy. Everything was new when we were thrust into hell, so the usual getting to know you dating rituals would have to come later.
Scott and I had our first fight at the burn unit. It began when he grew frustrated that I couldn’t turn myself over in my bed. It was something I had been working on; summoning all the strength I had to move my body from one side to the other. For the first few months nurses and orderlies turned me in my bed. He didn’t understand why I couldn’t just turn to the side and stay on my side. I didn’t understand it either, but I was that weak. And Scott couldn’t comprehend it.
It was our version of cabin fever. We’d been staring at the same walls and surrounded by the same machines for too long now. Scott knew every medicine that trickled in through an IV. He knew where to get the trays from in case I vomited. He saw my bag of pee that hung over the rail of my bed. Our conversations were few and when they happened it consisted of mainly hospital talk.
“I had a fever.”
Scott, looking at the bag of blood hanging beside me, “Oh, I didn’t know you were getting a transfusion today.”
“Do you know they’re giving me an anti-depressant? I didn’t know. I asked Kathleen what all the pills were for and she said one of them was my ‘happy pill’.”
Scott nodded, “Well, that would make sense.”
After debriefing, I would ask, “What did you do today?”
All my visitors, including Scott, had to wear gowns and gloves because of MRSA. We needed to be protected from each other. Romance was Scott slipping the gloves off his hands and climbing into the bed to spoon me.
Months of life and death issues were taking their toll on that particular day. My feeble attempts weren’t enough for him. “Why can’t you roll over?”
“I don’t know!”
“Just do it.”
He had this calm that irritated me, like if I just applied myself I’d be fine.
“Ummm…I’ve had about a million surgeries and I’m tired and I don’t know why I can’t do it. You do it!” My inability to roll over had a lot to do with missing feet. Feet do a lot of work for you and when you’re used to having them it takes a while to adjust. I figured that out later.
Scott wasn’t a monster. We were tired. The fight wasn’t at all about me being able to roll or not roll over. It was all about the fact that we had been there for months and that our relationship was relegated to a room in a building we couldn’t escape. It was a lot some days.