This too shall pass

December 27, 2012

Two weeks ago, Amit went for a fancy shot on the tennis court and tripped over his right leg and fell down. He says he heard the ligament snap. He also points out with great pride that he got the ball back. In my opinion, it’s a poor bargain. Whether it was a winner or not, he at any rate gets to cool his heels with six weeks in a cast.

First, I must clarify here. I don’t blame him. If the ball is there for the hitting, you do all you can to hit it. If you fall over and break a ligament trying – well, that’s just the way it is. Plenty of people have said he shouldn’t have tried, he shouldn’t play each point as if it is a match point in the Wimbledon final, he’s too old to do all that, the body has limits (and in any case his hair has gone gray) and some have even gone so far as to say that he should give up playing singles altogether. Let me just say – I don’t agree with any of that. If a thing is worth doing, it is worth giving it all you’ve got. Once in a way you might break something, but it’s a small price to pay for playing each and every point as if it is match point in a Wimbledon final – for years on end. If you don’t do that, you’ve never lived. You’ve wasted it all away. Or at least, that’s the way I see it and that’s the way he sees it and as far as we two are concerned, that’s all that matters.

It’s not, of course, much fun when it comes to paying the price. The patient gets off lightly – all he has to do is to suffer a bit of pain (ok, he says it’s a lot of pain, but still… it’s just pain; you get pain killers for that). To look on the bright side, you get to lie in bed for six weeks while your wife of 15 years waits on you hand and foot – I mean, literally, hand and foot. And that 15 years is important, folks. It’s all very romantic and sweet to wait hand and foot on a newly-acquired husband. After 15 years? Well, it’s worse than breaking a ligament. I mean, I spent a good amount of time training the old man to do things for himself – and for me too, while you’re at it. Like, make the coffee; wash the dishes (and the clothes); give the kids a bath; and that most crucial of husbandly duties… drive the car. And after a decade and a half of training and reinforcing and administering of refresher courses (some of them none too gentle) in husbandly duties, who gets to do all that now? Me. The wife. Not only do I have to do everything around the house and everything for the kids, I now even have to go to the extent of leaving the poor darling’s lunch on the table, along with plate, cutlery, finger bowl and towel. Yes, finger bowl and towel too. Well, if you’re eating rotis and then you’re using a walker to walk, you have to use a finger bowl and towel.

Now, after two weeks, we’ve got a few things sorted. In the initial days, I had to tote around a change of clothes, dirty laundry, shaving paraphernalia, and electronic gadgetry by the armload – mobile phone, charger, laptop, charger, iPad, charger, second mobile phone, charger… phew! Now at least I don’t tote any of that around. All of it lies scattered around the bed in a state of permanent and advanced disarray. Except the laundry and fresh clothes, I still have to do that, even though it lies around in a state of advanced disarray. Ugh.

It doesn’t help that, a couple of days after Amit successfully immobilized himself, I went out cycling and – thanks to one of Bangalore’s eight million street dogs – flew off my cycle and landed on the hard, tarred road in spectacular fashion. By way of protective gear, I was wearing a cycling helmet, elbow guards, and track pants, so I only grazed my right thumb, my left palm, and my left elbow. Not enough, clearly not enough. If you have to get hurt, you have to do a good and proper job of it. All of these minor injuries only stung like crazy the first few days, and necessitated a tetanus shot. They made various household activities extremely painful, such as washing dishes, doing laundry, and locking the gate. But none of those activities were impossible, mind you, only extremely painful. Bah!

Worst of all, there was something in my left shoulder which made driving and folding bedsheets almost impossible and what’s more – adding insult to injury – has ruled out tennis for at least two weeks. True, I have now developed a two-handed gear change technique that would put any two-handed backhand to shame, and a single-handed steering technique that might well be worth patenting. Both these techniques, however impressive, are not guaranteed to get me through my driving test, which means that I continue to drive on a Learner’s License, with extreme paranoia about getting caught. (If you’re wondering why I have a Learner’s License – well, that’s another story.) Apparently, on a Learner’s License, you are only supposed to drive if you have a valid driving license holder sitting next to you. What I have next to me, sometimes, is Amit’s right leg. As far as a valid driving license holder goes, I’m not sure if a right leg counts, but in any case, this particular right leg possesses only a Learner’s License, its driving license also having reached the end of its usefulness.

Oh, right – you’re wondering why I drive around with a right leg next to me, even if it is Amit’s. Well, the rest of the body is in the back seat, you see. I take it most of my loyal readers have met Amit, or at least are aware that the guy is all of 7 ft tall. I have only a small little car. Normally, he has to fold his long legs into the knees-touching-chin position to sit in the front passenger seat. In his current injured condition, he is supposed (under doctor’s orders) to keep the injured leg elevated at all times. So if he does decide to come out with me in the car, he sits in the back seat behind the driver and stretches his leg through the front bucket seats to rest his right leg on the front passenger seat. Since the kids are usually with us, they have to squash up in the back seat next to Amit’s diagonally aligned frame. No car seats, of course – which makes the drive quite a concentration test for me, trying to focus on the road and ignore all sorts of chaos going on in the back.

Every cloud has a silver lining, they say. I must admit, I don’t see one – and I really have been looking. The doctor promised a silver lining of sorts – he said he’d take off the half cast that Amit was originally plastered with and replace it with a solid fibre-glass cast that he’d be able to walk with. No more crutches, he said.

A word about crutches. I don’t think they come in the 7ft size. I got the longest ones I could, but they were a few inches short, so Amit had to stoop to bring his armpit down onto the head of the crutch. You really can’t walk that way. I’ve used crutches – when I broke my leg more than a decade ago. They’re not very difficult to use – but they have to fit in the armpit. Well, a friend looked at the crutches and pointed out that it might be possible to extend the bottom part and put me in touch with a guy and a day later – bingo! We had crutches long enough for Amit.

Even so, no more crutches was definitely something to look forward to. Amit, being thin like a scarecrow, said the crutches were making his armpits sore! Oh, the problems some people have! I, on the other hand, had a real reason to rejoice at the prospect of him not needing crutches or the walker anymore. With both his hands free, he could put them to use washing dishes. Oh, joy!

Unfortunately, not so soon. Yesterday evening, the doctor wrapped his foot up in a shiny blue fibre-glass cast and told him not to put any weight on it for another two weeks.

There goes my silver lining. Two more weeks of washing dishes and god knows how many more weeks of being the chauffeur (with a right leg in the passenger seat to boot). What’s even worse is that my shoulder, though vastly better, is still not completely ok yet. Which means, I get to drive the kids to the tennis court over the weekend (still with a Learner’s License), but I don’t get to play. And this is the holiday season. Boohooooooooo!

Yeah, so – I’m hanging on with this thought: This too shall pass. 

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