Being a husband or father is always tough, it isn't. It is that when your loved ones are sick, really sick or they have a special need. There is no worse feeling than sitting at a bedside, even as they sleep, and feeling helpless to fix anything.
I write this from a hospital room where I have been living for the past five days. I have not gotten good sleep any of these nights due to all the various machines going off, nurses walking in to check on my wife or general meeting the needs of my wife as she recovers from surgery. I am the fifth wheel in this machine, the guy who can get ice or water. I can fluff a pillow or straighten a sheet but let's face it, I am an extra appendage. If I were missing, someone who is way more qualified would help. Even when our son was having surgeries to correct many of the effects of having cerebral palsy, I felt helpless. He had a dozen operations starting at six months old. Each one was heart-wrenching. Seeing him lay in the hospital bed or on our couch instead of doing kid things, ripped my insides out! I know each one made things better in the long run, but it didn't make the moments any easier.
I am a guy who fixes his car's brakes. I also change the oil in the car. I do house repairs. When the oven went out, I figured out what part was not working and replaced it. My wife always says I am handy to have around and I take pride in that.
But when it comes to being at the bedside while they suffer through the pain and recovery, I feel like a fish out of water, gasping at the air trying to find something that will make a difference and make me feel useful.
I know it doesn't always come out looking like I have compassion, I am after all, still me. I want the best for my loved ones. I want to see them get better and when it isn't going the best, I get a little abrupt. I don't mean to be. It is just my way of wanting, like the oven or car, to fix it.
My wife in these situations is much more prepared. She is a registered nurse, so when the doctors and nurses find out, they all begin to talk in "medical speak." It reminds me of being in the middle of a group signing or speaking German. All I can do, in the words of the penguins of Madagascar cartoon is, smile and wave.
I know that moral support and prayers are significant and make a difference. I also know that being there, getting the water and helping with trips to the bathroom and making sure someone is advocating on their behalf is very important. It just hurts more than anything I know to watch them suffer, and I want so badly to fix it.