I think I knew it was the end of Nurse Ratched's iron-fist reign when she and I went to see Patty, the chief nurse in Cardiac Rehab. What are your goals, Patty asked me, and before I could answer, Maria piped up: "I'd like Jon to start cooking again." Patty laughed and said she understood, I felt a chill moving down my spine. She didn't actually ask me what my goals were, and I didn't volunteer any. The conversation had moved on.
It was the end of the caretaker area, back to the kitchen for me. Nurse Ratched was preparing to move on, back to her life in her art studio.
When Patty said Maria's goal was both reasonable and doable, Maria became a firm believer in cardiac rehabilitation. When I got out of the hospital on July 4, I couldn't open a door, dress myself, walk up stairs, lift a pot or pan, or anything else that weighed more than five lbs. While there are still many restrictions on what I can and can't do, I can make breakfast and cook again (I still can't shop unless someone carries the bags to my car).
This morning, it was different. "Do you know where my jeans are, sweetie?," I asked, as I often do. For weeks, that has prompted my wife to run upstairs and find me a pair. "Why don't you go upstairs and look for them?," she said today. Okay, I thought, things are getting back to normal.
Maria was a tough-minded, vigilant and very loving nurse, especially in the early days, and I am appropriately grateful to her for her wonderful care of me, but I have to say she is not a nurse or caretaker at heart, she is an artist who lives and breathes her work, and picking up after her husband all day and arranging his medications and cooking three meals a day was definitely not her idea of the chosen life. I love my wife dearly, I can tell you from the heart that she is not a domestic person, nor is she a born caretaker. She has spent enough of her life doing what other people told her to do, I missed that period completely.
Maria was sweet as cane sugar for about three weeks, and then I began to hear muttering about the good old days when I would call her from the house and tell her lunch was ready, when I kept track of my own socks and underwear and pills.
I feel things getting back to normal, but I have to admit one can get used to being cared for.
Yesterday, I made breakfast and lunch, and Nurse Ratched – normally yelling at me to put the hose down or leave the pans alone – was purring like a kitten, talking about her work, blogging, chipper as a chipmunk on a woodpile.
Suddenly, she was quite happy with my lifting pots and pans. As it happens, one reason our relationship works is that I do all of the shopping and cooking, some of the farm chores, and Maria does pretty much everything else (Alfreda comes once a week to clean the house, neither of us is good at that.) I have to say I will miss the reign of Nurse Ratched, I liked sitting in my favorite chair, reading and listening to music while Maria slaved in the kitchen, cooking and doing all of the dishes ( too strenuous for me, at least until last week.) It was nice to sit out int the Adirondack chair with Red at my side waiting for Maria to bring me dinner.
In those days, I was not allowed to so much lift a plate. Those days are gone. Thank you, Nurse Retched, I will miss you for awhile, but I have to say it is good to get my wife back. I love the artist more than you.
Whenever Maria complained or got grumpy, I I just coughed a bit and winced, and touched my hands to my chest, and she would melt. In cardiac rehab, when I saw Patty write down that the major goal of cardiac rehab was for me to cook again, I knew it was over. Nurse Ratched was moving on. I thank here and love her, I am working on my shopping list as soon as I finish writing this.