Today marks two weeks since my shoulder surgery. Somehow it seems like the whole event happened much longer ago. Then I stop and realize that it will be almost another two weeks until I can begin physical therapy, and that seems like a long way off. Funny how our perceptions of time get all out of whack when our normal routine and world get shaken up.
My surgery was more extensive than anyone thought it would be. I had three tendons that needed to be re-attached; a biceps repair; and a very large bone spur taken out – or whatever it is that surgeons do with bone spurs. I don’t need details. The surgeon wants me to heal more before I start physical therapy, so that means longer in the sling/immobilizer with no use of my arm. I’ve done very well, thanks to my amazing husband who does anything and everything to serve me and make life easier for me. I’m learning how to do a lot with my left hand, which is not my dominant hand, and realizing that I have so much for which to be thankful. No crutches, for one thing. I would be a hazard on crutches, primarily to myself. My situation is not permanent, and for many people that is not the case as they find themselves minus a limb. I am not undergoing months of chemo with an uncertain future ahead. I have family and friends who love me, and have been so supportive both from near and far. We have our huge Great Dane, Jackson, who sits by me and looks at me with sweet pity. And I have Aaron, who causes me to be jerked back to reality daily.
Yes, dear Aaron……..whose world is all about…….Aaron. Yet he has shown some surprising sides of himself over the past two weeks. Before my surgery, I took him to Wal-Mart for a casual shopping trip. He had some Christmas gift cards, but there really wasn’t much on this trip that he wanted. Of course, he got some Skittles because Skittles are always important to have. And he was very animated when we entered the produce department and he saw eggplants. Yes, eggplants…….because they are unusual to him and they are a pretty color and he still remembers the summer that Gary planted an eggplant in our garden and it grew! We didn’t buy an eggplant that day in Wal-Mart, but he was happy to hold it up for me to see…….and everyone else that was near us.
The day of my surgery, he bounded in the door as usual and I heard him come tromping up the stairs. He came into the room where I was propped up in bed and launched right in to a rundown of his day. To others, he would have perhaps seemed very uncaring because he didn’t ask about me right away………but I knew better. I saw his eyes darting around the bed, taking in the sight of Mom not looking so great and the IceMan machine whirring beside the bed and the mound on my right side that was my surgery site. He was taking it in and checking things out, and it was very vital to him to know that Mom was awake and could talk……..and most importantly, still had ears with which to listen to Aaron’s stories and questions and reviews of his latest movie that he has seen. He popped in and out over the next few days, talking about his day at Paradigm or what he had eaten or what my opinion was concerning the possibility of aliens on other planets or whether I had any new information about global warming. There is sameness with Aaron, that’s for certain.
He walked in one day to see my empty right shirt sleeve laying on top of the covers. Coming out of the sleeve, where my hand should have been, was the hose for the ice machine. This sight shocked even Aaron, whose eyes got huge as he blurted out, “Mom!!! You don’t have a hand??!!” We looked down and realized how shocking this looked, and then I showed him where my real hand was – all tucked into my immobilizer under the covers – and Aaron and Gary and I laughed and laughed. Aaron was also very relieved to see that Mom was not missing a very necessary part!
At other times he showed surprising tenderness. He likes it when he and I use back scratchers at night to tickle each other’s backs. One day he asked if we could “do our backs.” I told him that I didn’t think I was up to that yet and he answered, “No, I don’t mean that you have to do my back. I’ll just tickle your back.” Well, my goodness! I was surprised and pleased at that display of kindness, and I told him so…….which made him uncomfortable with pleasure. He was also careful with goodnight hugs, being very slow and gentle with me instead of rough and brusque.
He had one morning of non-compliance – the first morning that Gary went back to work and I was on my own again with Aaron. I seriously wanted to walk away that morning as he challenged everything I said, and as his rudeness increased I became more and more exhausted. He did go on to Paradigm when his ride came, angry with me even as he brushed out the door and uttered one more insult. But when he came home, he was happy and acted as if the morning had never happened. Since then he has been fine…….maybe he just needed to test the waters or his concern finally spilled out in his behaviors, as often happens.
I never know what to expect when he comes home, but it almost always involves lots of talking and sometimes surprises……..such as this day last week when he was delighted to show me what his friend had painted on his face. He told me about passing a school bus and how the children inside were staring at him on this day. Yep, Aaron, I bet they were.
He is happy that I can now awkwardly shuffle cards, so Skip-Bo is sometimes a part of our evening here and there. Yesterday we walked around our circle when he got home, minus our big dog, and it felt so good to be outside and to walk and of course, to listen to Aaron talk. This past Sunday, though, I did not want to listen to him talk. I had just settled in a chair with cushions and my blanket for a Sunday nap………and I heard his door open and then the unmistakable sound of his thumping down the stairs.
I kept my eyes closed, but Aaron doesn’t pay attention to those blatant hints. He talked to me a minute, then thumped downstairs to talk to Gary, then back up to talk to me some more……despite my closed eyes. Surely, I hoped, when he sees my closed eyes he will hush. Instead, he settled himself on the arm of the couch near my chair and proceeded to talk. I could feel myself nodding off and then realized that Aaron was saying, “…….right, Mom? Mom? Is that right? There are lots of volcanoes in Hawaii, right?”
Yes, Aaron…….I could barely make the words come out………..there are volcanoes in Hawaii. Then I felt myself once again being pulled down into sweet sleep, only to be jerked up again with, “………so Mom…..Mom?…….earthquakes cause cracks in the ground, don’t they?”
Uh-huh…..I barely muttered. His monotone voice began to drone again, making me even sleepier.
“…….is that right, Mom? Huh? Is that right?”
I agreed that it was right, not even knowing or caring about what I had just agreed to……….and he began to talk again about volcanoes or earthquakes.
For crying out loud, Aaron, please! Can you not see that I’m trying to take a nap?
Unfazed, he said OK and got up, going back to his room. Yet I knew I wasn’t dreaming when soon I heard that thump, thump, thump of him coming down the stairs again. AAHHH!!! I didn’t move and I barely even breathed as he entered the family room, walked near me, and stopped. Then I heard him chuckle. “HeHeHeHeHe,” he laughed in his deep voice. I didn’t budge. He walked toward the kitchen, stopped, and turned to walk back……..and as he passed I once again heard it……..”HeHeHeHeHeHe.”
Then he was gone, thumping back upstairs not to return again……….and leaving me to smile and to wonder what that was all about. You never know with Aaron. He just called me as I’m writing this – called from Barb’s cell phone at Paradigm. I asked, “Aaron, what are you doing?” He answered, “I don’t know!” Oh, Aaron.
See, I’m not the only one that wonders what on earth Aaron is doing. Half the time, he doesn’t even know! Yes, things have returned to normal around here for sure.