Husband/Father – The balance between Responsibility & Recovery

Yesterday we had a party for my 10-year-old daughter. As you may imagine there is quite a bit of work to be done to prepare for 15 – 20 children (and some) parents to be at your home. In addition it was a pool party. I am sure many of you can understand the concerns and liabilities of 20 kids, under the age of 12 swimming in your pool.

As I mentioned before and in all seriousness, my wife is Super Woman. She works full-time (providing for the family especially since my injury), and picks up all of the slack created by my MTBI. She handles most of the help with homework, drama issues, sibling bickering, and general day-to-day issues of the home as I am extremely limited in my abilities. Don’t misunderstand, I still do my share. However if pre-injury our jobs were 50/50 splits, they are now probably closer to 75/25 splits. For me (and most men probably, this is a very difficult and depressing issue to deal with). I will talk more about this later, but back to this party story.

As I am two weeks post surgery, I had 3 discs removed from the cervical section of my spine, a “cage” placed in the spot where the disc was removed and filled with donor material, and then bolted together with a rod to connect all the vertebra that spanned the discs. For you medical types the procedure was an “Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion”. My 2 week surgical follow-up the day before the party went very well. The doc said aside from my breathing set back (pulmonary embolism leading to  4 days in hospital – cured by a miracle of God BTW) my recovery was right on track. The plan is to start weaning off the pain pills, doing some minimal walking and exercise (household chores), and continue to work the muscles in my next to get them back to strength slowly. He said within 4 to 6 months I should be good as new.

Donna (my wife) hears this information as sit and do nothing. I hear this as go ahead and help with the setup and supervision of the party as much as I can stand. So now this is a question of balance. As a husband, you don’t want to let your wife down with all the work and preparation into setting up this event for our daughter. As a father, you don’t want to let your little princess down by being absent from her 10th birthday party. Finally as a patient, you don’t want to set your recovery back by doing too much. Where do you draw the line that makes everyone happy.

Apparently this is an imaginary line that can’t be drawn.  

I did some work prior to the party to help get a few things set up, probably about 30% of what actually had to be done. To much according to my wife. During the party, I sat in a chair near the pool to ensure the safety of all the children swimming. I got up a few times to push a child or two in, (and maybe even Donna – her fault for getting so close to the edge without her phone in her hand). Again, too much according to Donna. During cake and presents I did the video taping of the process. Acceptable according to Donna. Finally during cleanup I did, again, about 30% of the work that needed to be done. And again, too much according to Donna. Now to our daughter, I looked like the fun dad, hanging out and playing with her friends, but not embarrassing her too much. So as I see it, the scoreboard on a 0-100 scale looks like this:

Cool Dad who loves his child and his child’s friends think is fun – 90
Husband who follows directions and does what he is told – 10
Patient who follows doctors orders – 60

That give me a score of 160 out a possible 300. Just over .500, if I were a major league baseball player, I would be a millionaire.

Now I would be fibbing if I didn’t say I was sore and uncomfortable at the end of the day, but how many times does your only daughter turn 10?

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