What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me. [#5]
[This is a guest post from The Cat's Pyjamas]
Sometimes there’s a beautiful clarity in crisis, those times when your whole life revolves a single point, like a wobbly planet around an evil star. Ordinary life tends to disintegrate around you, and what you are usually left with is the people you love and who love you.
I’m not having a life crisis. If I was being dramatic (which, of course I will be), I could call it a ‘life hiccough’. My ordinary life hasn’t disintegrated around me, but I have put it on hold for a week. In the meantime, there are ECGs, blood tests, x-rays, and echocardiograms. Just imagine a particularly slow-paced episode of House, after all of the major characters have moved on to Hollywood film careers.
Still, though, the three most important people in my life — my mother, my brother, and my partner, Johanis — have provided me with so much love and support this week. I feel lucky. I am lucky. My mother and my brother, both registered nurses, have taken quite different approaches to talking to me about what’s happening.
Mum: Your GP may send you to speak to someone who knows a lot about these types of things.
Are you trying to say ‘cardiologist’ without saying the word ‘cardiologist’?
My brother: How’s the ticker?
I’m dying, I know it.
Shit, mate. Write me into your will.
Johanis is just worried.
This morning, I needed to go and have a blood test. Johanis, in a symbolic gesture of support, decided to fast with me overnight and in the morning. Oh, you may think. How lovely.
Johanis does not deal well certain situations, and being hungry is one of them. Like a child, he’ll quickly work himself into a frenzy and the next thing you know, it’s like Lord of the Flies and he’s pushed Piggy off the cliff. He was already on edge in the car on the way to the appointment. As we arrived at the pathology clinic, I saw him throwing frantic glances at the coffee shop next door.
Do you need to eat something?
No, I’ll wait until afterwards.
Seriously, do you need to eat something?
… What about if I just get a smoothie?
Johanis is also famously terrified of having blood taken, but he insisted on coming into the clinic room with me. He was very quiet as the pathology nurse called us in. As I sat in the special chair (are the arms designed that way so you don’t fall out of them?) and the nurse prepped my arm, I looked up at Johanis and he stared back into my eyes with a look that can only be described as 100% pure fear.
Can you please talk to me to distract me?
*whispering intensely* … I love you.
Oh, god. Don’t just say that.
You are killing me right now.
At that moment, Johanis got a phone call and answered it without thinking, dithering helplessly for a moment and then stepping out of the room. The nurse finished taking my blood, pushed a cotton puff into the crease of my elbow, and stuck a band-aid on top.
Ooh, I think I’m going to be sick.
Okay. Are you feeling light-headed?
No, just like I’m going to vomit.
Okay. But are you feeling dizzy?
No… Oh… Wait a minute… Yes.
Everything went confusing and black and tingly for a moment and then the nurse was shepherding my uncooperative body onto the floor. Johanis finished his phone call and came back into the room.
OH MY GOSH, BABY, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!
Yeah, I’m all right. I actually feel so much better already.
Yes, said the nurse. You usually do as soon as you lie down.
There’ve been so many times over the past week when Johanis has been a perfect Florence Nightingale, when he’s calmly and competently said and done all the right things. But looking up at him from the floor, my arms and legs akimbo and my dress flipped up over my hips in the most undignified manner, I thought about the way he had tried and fucked up and tried again, and I loved him so fiercely.
Categorised as: wisdom+philosophy