Shortly after Jonah was born, I went back to school. I was in graduate school, which means I taught classes in addition to the classes I took for my degree.
My cell phone rang at 12:15, when my 11:00 class let out. The cell phone was there, in case an emergency came up.
It was Sunday. The incision from the C-section had come open. I remember getting dizzy and my chest tingling from fear. I gripped the table I was walking past, and I really didn’t think I was going to make it out of the room without breaking down crying.
She confirmed how little she understood when she said, “There’s blood all over the place and I called the doctor. We have an appointment at 2:00.”
AN APPOINTMENT AT 2:00?!?! IS THIS DOCTOR CRAZY?
I asked Sunday if she thought that an ambulance should be called or if I should meet her at the hospital. At this point, she said the one thing that I never expected: “No, just go to your next class and meet me at 2:00 at the doctor’s.”
GO TO YOUR NEXT CLASS AND MEET HER AT THE DOCTOR’S?!?! IS THIS WOMAN CRAZY?!?!?!
At this point I remembered something that I have consistently recognized at various points in our relationship: Sunday’s a stud. She looks emotional and fragile and all that malarkey, but that’s what all those sentiments are: malarkey. She’s as tough as nails and she is the toughest when she needs it most.
She was focused and I wasn’t.
That drive from the campus to the doctor’s office was like moving through clear gelatin. I didn’t hear anything, everything was a blur, and I really didn’t feel much, either. I was scared to death. I didn’t know what I was going to encounter when I got there. Most of the stuff I imagined weren’t positive, and I have a pretty good imagination.
When I got there, I met her at the doctor’s waiting room and she looked just fine.
We went into the doctor’s office—Sunday’s mother looked after Jonah, which was a huge help—and we met another doctor who was not our doctor. I immediately began worrying again.
A little explanation. My marriage to Sunday introduced me to a new concept: the regularly-scheduled doctor’s appointment. When I was a kid, we didn’t have those. In fact, we didn’t have a “family doctor” which shocked Sunday when we got married.
To me, “doctor” meant the guy in the blood-splattered white coat at the Emergency Room. Unlike me, Sunday had scheduled doctor’s appointments when they were well. My parents didn’t believe in that kind of medicine. We went to the doctor when some thing was sticking out of our skin or when someone had lopped something off of someone else. Obviously, Sunday was raised in a more civilized environment. The doctor/patient relationship was more of an acquaintance for us, and an invested partnership for Sunday.
I was used to having a stranger take care of me, but Sunday wasn’t. She formed a bond, a relationship with the person providing her medical care, and I didn’t think this new guy was going to fly, mostly because he was new. But, again, Sunday surprised me. She seemed not the least bit nervous or uncomfortable.
As the doctor looked at the bloody bandages and tape that Sunday had put on her belly to stop the bleeding, he began explaining how this type of thing happened all the time and that it wasn’t a big deal. (Yeah right). I have noticed when a doctor says that “this kind of thing happens all the time” he says it with the boredom of an expert.
While he’s saying “this sort of thing happens all the time,” I am thinking, yes, this happens all the time. So do violent verbal outbursts, mutilations, butt kickings and death—all of which may happen to the next doctor who tells me that something “happens all the time.”
The doctor started peeling off the layers that covered her wound, and everyone got quiet: Sunday, the doctor, the nurse, and me. When everything was uncovered, he did something I didn’t expect: he opened her incision about four inches long. Inside, there were dark patches where her blood had clotted.
The doctor broke the silence as he explained what happened. The way he told it, the clotted blood inside her acted in the same way that frozen water acts inside a plastic bottle. Simply put, the clots expanded so much that it burst her incision. He pulled out clots that totaled the size of my palm and then he turned to me and said, “Are you ready to be nurse?” I realized that this point was not the time to make a joke and ask for my sexy nurse costume, so I just said, “Yes.” I have discovered that saying “yes” before I really know what I am agreeing to can lead me into some exciting, daring adventures. This wasn’t one of those times. This was a duty, not an adventure, a job, not a thrill.
Then I started running it through my head, “…in sickness and in health…”