It’s been a rough night. My little sciatica relapse has morphed into a full-blown attack of the jangled nerves. Last night’s sleep was brought to me by strong drugs and a soothing back stroke. The sleep lasted for about six hours in total but was punctuated with hours between of painful wakefulness.
This post is dedicated to my patient, caring and equally tired lover (wife), who, although she doesn’t believe in them, is a saint. The very powerful but it-only-works-for-four-hours drug I took at nearly midnight meant that I suddenly woke up at 3.45am with no barrier between me and the pain. I roll over, searching for some relief from the fiery, incessant throb pulsing down my left leg. This movement makes things worse, so I roll again, and the noise that leaves my mouth is alien to me and wakes my sleeping wife.
“Shhhh”, she soothes,
“shhhh”, and proceeds to stroke my back, gently, starting at the shoulders and moving down to the mid section. The night is dark, silent, punctuated by my little sobs and her calming croon.
I’ve awoken into a frenzy of pain. My memory is of dreaming that there was a way to isolate the pain, a right position to be in, some form of mitigation, but the wakefulness does not live up to the dream. It takes a while to bring me back down from the shock of feeling this much pain. She patiently strokes my back some more. Her hand stops, she is asleep again. I try and wiggle away a bit, bury my head in my pillow and whimper again, trying to stifle the sound, not wanting to wake her.
The sound penetrates her early sleep and she switches the light on so that she can see me. We agree that I have to try some different drugs and she goes off to get them. This time, when she gets back in bed, she props herself up a bit, so she can’t sleep accidentally, and I try to relax into the gentle massage of her hand trailing down my back. I shift position, prop my good leg with a pillow so it’s not leaning on my bad leg and I finally feel myself drift toward sleep.
The next time I awake it is light and the rooster is loudly proclaiming his right to be free to roam. The hens are forming a chorus of protest, like backing vocals. My wife is gently snoring next to me. Her beatific smile curving her lips even as she sleeps. This time the pain is bearable and I remain silent, watching her and marvelling at her generous, loving gift of being there with me, not leaving me to fight this pain alone.