Kidney Stone

Who would think something so small could hurt so much!
Do you ever wish you could figure out just what your spouse is doing all day long at home? You think to yourself, if only I was at home ….there would always be milk in the refrigerator. I would have the toilet bowl tidied. I would have cleaned up the back porch by now. Dinner would always be ready on time.

In truth, my husband has always cooked. He wooed me with Chicken a la Orange, which proved to be a definite enticement to form a permanent alliance. And he has cooked ever since. Whether this is from the goodness of his heart, or is purely self-defense, he has graciously never clarified.

But when he quit work he made a lot of other promises in addition to cooking. It was going to be the ‘Reign of Dad’, and order would prevail. No stray newspapers, magazines or bills would cover the dining room table. There would be no dirty socks on the living room mantle. Empty coffee cups would always be relegated to the dishwasher. There would be no Doritos nesting in the couch cushions.

Has it worked out this way? In truth…. not exactly.

I mentioned this to my mother-in-law recently.

“I didn’t teach him to clean”, she said. “I taught him to cook.”

She had me there. Still, I was convinced that if only I were home, I could do it much better. Then, through a stoke of bad luck, I got my opportunity. I could be “Mom for the Day”! This did involve some minor suffering on my husband’s part. On a Monday night, he woke up with a crippling, searing pain in his side. After a frantic phone call to our HMO, we got to spend a lot of quality time together in the emergency room at Study Memorial hospital. There he was diagnosed as having a kidney stone and sent home with a lot of pain mediation and instructions to wait.

“This too will pass,” said his doctor.

When I got home, I was already half an hour late for work, so I called in to explain my tardiness. In an unexpected and unprecedented occurrence, my boss had a moment of compassion and told me to take the whole day off. Here it was, my opportunity to take care of my poor ailing husband; and, incidentally, to show him what I could do if I had all day long at home.

It is true that I had been home in the past when my husband was working. But that was different. I had little kids. Everyone knows you can’t keep the house straight with toddlers around. You have to watch them every minute. And besides, I was not about to give up my career, my independence, and my paycheck just to clean the house. I was going to spend every single minute nurturing my precious little geniuses. And to do this, the house needed to be an interesting environment, full of stimulating objects. At the time, my husband took, to my mind, a rather short-sighted and bourgeois view of my endeavors. All he could do was whine about not being able to go from room to room without tripping over a thousand toys. He did not seem to understand how critical all those Legos, and blocks and crumbled up newspaper were to the development our budding future scientists and engineers.

But, this time I could do it right. Teenagers are no problem.

All began well. I made the decision that I should be sensible, and take a nap, so that I could approach the days tasks with energy and good humor. It was at that point that things sort of started to fall apart. The minute after I fell asleep, my spouse shook me awake.

“Our youngest has a doctors appointment in Plainville in less than an hour, and I can’t drive while taking this medication.” he informed me.

I rushed though breakfast, and took off in the car. I returned with the expectation of finishing my nap, and perhaps exercising. But there were the breakfast dishes, so, in tune with my resolution, I started on them with enthusiasm. And, for the ailing patient, I made an emergency run for videos especially designed to fight kidney stones.

Then I experienced a rare sighting of the “Joshua”, our oldest son. The “Joshua” is a nocturnal creature. He leaves his bed in the late afternoon, before I return from work, and goes out foraging, returning only after I have retired for the night. The “Joshua” eats nothing but tuna salad, pizza, and spaghetti sauce. While I stood, trying in a puzzled sort of way to figure out what was standing in my kitchen, he begged me to please, please, make a batch of spaghetti so he could eat it cold from the refrigerator all week. How could I deny such a poignant request?

Yeah, I’ll show I can cook too, I thought, and I was moving right along too, when I realized that there were no onions in the house. No problem, just a short trek to Shaws. But things were under control until my husband emerged from the movies to remind me that my youngest had a piano lesson in Walpole in less than 15 minutes. So much for the “Joshua’s” spaghetti sauce. It has his turn to follow his fathers example and cook it himself.

When I got home, the kitchen was dirty. I ate, and began to clean when my spouse informed me that the youngest needed to be driven to play rehearsal in Mansfield. Again, No problem. But when I returned the kitchen was still dirty. I began to see a pattern here. When I finally went to bed the kitchen was still a mess, and I had never even begun to clean up the dining room table.

It was with some relief that I returned to work the next day. I explained to my boss how helpful it was for me to have had the day off, and how I was able to gain some different and broadening experiences during the course of my one day sabbatical.

“I actually cooked! I cleaned the house!” I said, exaggerating just slightly.

Apparently his moment of compassion had passed, and he didn’t seem to see things from my perspective at all. “You mean your poor husband had to have a kidney stone attack to get you to clean up the house?” he asked.

I still believe in the holy grail of “the clean house.” You just can’t do it with an ailing patient, and teenagers around. But, when we retire, and it is just the two of us, alone all day, I have faith order will finally prevail. We will live in a clean house, with a well stocked larder. In the meantime, I guess I will just enjoy the Chicken a la Orange.

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