I just looked at my calendar and it’s been ten years, almost to the day, since my husband’s hysterectomy. Of course I was the one who actually had the surgery, but considering everything he had to endure, you’d have thought the poor guy went under the knife himself.
For him, the unpleasant ordeal probably began the first time he accompanied me to doctor. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed anything like this yourself or not, but there’s nothing more pathetic than a man in a gynecologist’s waiting room. He just looks so out of place, perched uncomfortably there on that delicate little floral loveseat, surrounded by fichus trees and menopausal women. Listlessly flipping through the latest issue of "Estrogen Monthly”, his eyes are constantly darting around the room, as if any minute he fears that a nurse is going to snatch him and hook him up to a breast pump.
In Marc’s case the worst part about the visit to my gynecologist’s office was being forced to use proper terminology when discussing the female anatomy. Believe me, it wasn’t easy for him. At our first consultation with the doctor he blushed and asked, "Will this be an abdominal hysterectomy, or well, uh, you know, the other kind?” Gradually, though, he became quite comfortable with the lingo. So much so, in fact, that by the end of the ordeal he’d begun to feature himself as some kind of amateur gynecologist. I actually overheard him on the phone one night casually discussing in vivid detail my ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids. His candor was even more remarkable considering the fact that the poor fellow on the other end of the line was simply taking a political survey. (We don’t get very many of those calls any more. Wonder if there’s a connection…)
In a lot of ways, the surgery itself was actually harder on Marc than it was on me. I could tell by the worry on his face when they wheeled me out of the room, and I could tell by the relief on his face when they wheeled me back in again. He slept that night on a hard chair next to my bed, and the next morning, when the nurses forced me to take that awful first walk, he was right there, encouraging me every step of the way.
When I got home, he not only took over all the cooking, mopping, laundry and grocery shopping, he also baked brownies for the church choir supper, and even ironed his own shirts. To his credit, he did a remarkable job – especially when you take into account that our nest wasn’t yet empty at the time.
But housework wasn’t the only "girly” thing he had to do. I must have sent him to the drug store a dozen times to pick up all kinds of creams and necessary feminine products and to fill my hormone prescriptions. He bolstered my mood swings. He dutifully checked the progress of my incision. And he sweetly told me on a daily basis, "No, honey, I don’t think you look fatter since the operation”.
One afternoon about two weeks after my surgery, I noticed that Marc was looking really tired. He stood at the stove, listlessly stirring a pot of chili, wearing a three-day beard and the same shirt he’d had on all week. When I asked if he was feeling okay, he sighed, "I guess so. I just feel sort of run down and blah today”. Then he added, somewhat tersely, "I washed nine loads of clothes today but I still can’t see the floor of the laundry room. Ten minutes after I vacuumed the den, there were leaves tracked all across it. Somebody turned over a bottle of soy sauce in the refrigerator and left it for me to clean up. Jason didn’t even notice that I put deviled eggs in his lunch yesterday. I have a terrible headache and my back is killing me. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I could swear I was about to ovulate”.
The good news is, following my hysterectomy I was pretty much back to normal in about six weeks. Unfortunately Marc wasn’t so lucky. He was doing pretty well there for a while, but then the hospital bill came. Let me tell you, I thought he was never going to recover from that!