That Damn Hill

When I hear the word newlyweds, I think of two blissfully naive youngsters kissing and holding each other in a cozy restaurant booth or that classic image of the man carrying the woman over the threshold. So when people call us newlyweds (while it is technically true), I always shake my head. We haven’t had the kind of newlywed year that most people have. Not that it was unhappy, no, it was blissfully happy, when it wasn’t terrifying and stressful. But that wasn’t our fault.

That was the fault of a dirt road on a steep hill.

I was walking from a make-shift parking lot on the set of the show I’m working on and the walk down to the set is a treacherous dirt road on a rocky hill. I remember I had an audition that had gone pretty well earlier that morning, I slipped and fell, my ankle buckling under me.  I had fractured my ankle, an innocuous injury it seemed. After a week of waiting for worker’s comp insurance to assign me an orthopedist (another blog post entirely), my calf became swollen and sore, and me not being a person who calls a doctor about ANYTHING, I figured it was the boot irritating my leg or something. Luckily, my husband is the opposite of me and when the doctor called about a follow up visit and I tried to cancel it, my husband insisted that we go.

I should mention here that I broke my right ankle and was unable to drive thus I had to go wherever he would take me. And I’m glad because when the doctor saw my calf, he immediately sent us to the ER, I had a blood clot, he was certain.

He was right — a blood clot had formed from the injured ankle to the knee and there were a few clots that made it to my lungs. I had made it to the hospital just in time apparently. The blood clot was due to the week of immobility, the trauma of the fracture, and birth control pills. Once they said I needed to be admitted to the hospital,  my husband and I went into practical mode, calling a friend to come get our dog, calling bosses and emailing people to cover meetings and shifts. He went home to get me clothes and toiletries and by the end of the first night, they found him a bed so that he could stay in the hospital with me.

So there we were, stuck in this room together, me, practically immobile and him trying not to yell at every nurse that passed by wondering where the doctor was and what was going on.  And it was like that for 4 days until (thank God) my mom came to relieve him.

I learned more in those four days about my husband than other newlyweds learn in the first two years. I learned what a strong person he is, how he handles stress (real stress) and how we respond together as a unit in times of crisis. I saw what breaks both of us and what I can do to prevent that in the future. I learned what I need to work on in our relationship and in life in general. But mostly, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would react if the situation was reversed. Would I be as forceful and proactive as my husband? It is not in my nature, so I know if I found myself in a hospital with my sick husband I would have to push outside my comfort zone and advocate for him the way that he did for me. And I find myself having to do that now in all my follow-up visits with doctors.

We also learned A LOT about how hospitals work. Mainly that there seems to be a lack of communication and that their answer to everything is painkillers. And while the latter may sound fun, it usually isn’t the answer you are looking for when you have been diagnosed with a blood clot and are suddenly feeling a tightness in your chest again.

Also, time does not exist in hospitals. Much like casinos, hospitals are constantly moving and people are in and out at all hours. I had many a nurse wake me up from a sound sleep at 3 a.m. to ask me questions that honestly, they could have read on my chart. Or to tell me things I already knew. And for some reason my twice daily blood drawing was scheduled for 4AM and 4 PM.  I am sure there are perfectly good reasons for all of this, but since no one in a hospital really tells you much of anything, I was never clued in to such things.

I always imagined the first time my husband and I would have to be in a hospital together would be the birth of a child or when we were very old, holding hands in our hospital beds ala “The Notebook”.  But what this first year of marriage has taught me the most about is throwing away all preconceived notions of what marriage and life is going to be like. I’ve learned you both have to be good at rolling with the punches because you never know what is going to come from simply walking down a dirt road.

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