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You know those weekends where you feel such a wave of relief that the week is over and you get loads of rest and relaxation? This past weekend was not one of those weekends. This is a story about love. How the truest love endures and gets stronger when the worst of pains are felt.
It was supposed to start off with J’s basketball game on Thursday evening. It was his first game with a new team comprised of some of his best guy friends. I was all on board to support. Friday was going to be full of singing for me, with an acappella coffeeshop gig and then a Charity Ball where I’d be fronting one of the coolest bands I know and singing some Taylor Swift. Saturday was a Holiday Party at J’s alma mater grad school. It was party central for us, and we couldn’t have been more excited. Then this happened.
Near the end of the basketball game, J turned a certain way and suddenly fell to his knees. No collision, no bending – just a slight turn of the back, and BOOM. On the ground. I didn’t see it happen, so I was confused to say the least. Here’s my boyfriend, who was killing it on the court twenty seconds prior, and now he’s on the ground and clearly in pain.
By the time I figured out what was happening and was at his side, he couldn’t move. Spasms were causing searing pain to surge through his lower back and down into his legs, and every position hurt. J had to crawl off the court while I ran to get ice. All we had in the car were individually packaged Advils, originally purposed as decongestants but with a tad bit of ibuprofen in them. I popped open a pill for him in the hopes that a tiny bit of pain relief – whatever that pill could bring – would come and come fast. Meanwhile, J is experiencing excruciating pain.
In a room full of completely unsympathetic guys on the court, two of J’s teammates managed to help carry him off and to his car as I grabbed the keys. And I’m never allowed to drive J’s car. It’s just one of those things. I managed to safely get us home, as every slight bump in the road or pothole sent spasms down J’s spine. His best friend trailed us with his own car to help me get J into the apartment. We laid J down in bed with ice and some pain reliever, and for now, called it a night.
I awaken to the sound of J trying to get out of bed. Before I could even ask what he was doing, he was on the floor, lying down and unable to move as another spasm hit him. I couldn’t even question his action in that moment – it sucked realizing that now, he really was stuck on the floor. Unable to lift him myself or re-position him without triggering lower back pain, I provided as many pillows and blankets as in the apartment and started setting up shop for the day. Now, dependence hit me.
This is what it’s like to be with someone who is completely, totally, 100% dependent on you. Literally unable to move a muscle without pain, it was up to me to provide food, water, comfort – you name it. This is where true love comes in. Seeing someone in their weakest moment, both physically and emotionally, brings you to a whole new level. Do they treat you with kindness? Do they take out their anger? What emotions do they bring to the table, and how do you counteract them? With kindness? Compassion? Frustration?
My scheduled plans derailed, I took to picking up new prescriptions and supplies for my soldier on the ground. Here’s the thing about J. He never gives up. I was ready to just knock on a neighbor’s door or call the paramedic to help bring him to the couch, but nope – J wanted to move on his own. He did, however, let me pull him to the living room to at least be near the couch. Close counts, right? After a bit of pulling, we found that a mix of army-style arm movements and pushing from behind worked best. We coordinated our efforts, J dragging his hands from above his head to aside his hips as I pushed his feet; together, we did a crazy good job sweeping the floor. But really, it was a feat, and we made it next to the couch – but still on the floor.
From there, we strategized. We tried. We failed. We cried. We strategized again, tried, and failed. Soon, it got to be hot with emotion, and I went into the kitchen to grab a drink of water. Upon re-entering the room, I saw J almost to his knees, struggling to get the right back angle as he attempted to position himself towards the couch to eventually be pulled onto it. I’m convinced it was his sheer determination that did it, because the cries of agony whenever a spasm hit spoke otherwise. Making it to the couch was a feat. This meant sitting was possible with supported backrest, and remaining sedentary there wasn’t problematic. From here, everything seemed to be uphill.
And then he had to pee.
I mean, we should’ve saw that one coming. Together we hobbled to the bathroom, and he managed to get some relief before hobbling right back to his semi-permanent residence. This was crucial; I managed to get out of my first singing gig of the night, but I knew I couldn’t stay over since another gig was right after. I felt absolutely awful leaving, so I vowed to come back first thing in the morning and stay with him again.
I come in on an early train and let myself in; I find J in his bed, which he managed to get to on his own presumably the past night – a great step! I snuggle up. He’s doing a lot better, able to get up and walk independently again. We rest up and manage to get to his holiday party; he could not have been happier to get out of the house!
Flash forward to
J wakes up, reaches to take another prescribed muscle relaxer and expresses more ease than yesterday. Then he hits the bathroom…and screams.
Turns out, J was allergic to the muscle relaxers. Whoops.
With swollen eyes and a splotchy face, we’re now on our way to an urgent care facility to get another medication. This time, it’s steroids with antihistamine to reduce the inflammation and itchiness, and script numero uno is out the window (but actually, down the toilet).
And this is how we saw love.
Usually, I’m the emotional one. I’m the more vulnerable of the two of us, and I’m the walking liability. With him injured, to a point of dependence and immobilization, it was now my turn to be the shoulder to lean on (literally), which is a role I’m sure we all have played or will play at some point in our lives. It’s strengthening. It’s strengthening not just for the person in need of a shoulder, but for the shoulder providing support. Seeing the sheer force of J’s unwillingness to seek help was inspiring to me, someone who is always first to suggest getting a helping hand or seeking assistance. While we both recognize that medical emergencies are not the best time or place to “push through” and be your own hero, his energy was what was inspiring to me. He refused to give up. He was willing to endure hardship – real pain – to achieve as seemingly simple a goal as getting onto a couch.
I always find myself asking God for patience. This was my weekend to dig inside myself and muster every ounce of patience that I could find. That, mixed with a whole lotta compassion and fortitude of heart (and good driving).
In a way, this weekend solidified what we’ve known all along. Even in our lowest moments, we’re still lifting each other up. And that’s what I love.
If you made it to this point in the story, thankyou for sticking with it. It was long and heady and I promise I’m working on not being as verbose. But this story I wanted to share. Because I’m so proud of my boyfriend. I’m proud of our relationship. And sometimes in the moments where they can’t do anything, you realize how you couldn’t live without them.
How do you know true love? Have you ever endured pain in some capacity within your relationship? How did you overcome it?
To prove he’s better, the boyf will be making a guest appearance on the blog soon. So…get excited. And have a happy hump day.