11.24.2013

Frail and Slight

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who lived in Kansas. Her parents taught her how to work hard.

An elderly neighbor had some flooding in her basement and called the Malouf house looking for some help. Was Rebecca home? No. Was Sam home? No. Emily's help was offered, and the old lady questioned, "But isn't she frail and slight?"

I might have been a skinny little eleven-year-old girl, but I wasn't frail, nor was I slight. So I went and cleaned up the neighbor's basement. All by myself.


When I was eight years old, I got my first paper route. I think that was also the year I completed a record-setting ten pull-ups in my P.E. class, beating all of the boys. When I was nine, my brother, Sam,  and I started a lawnmowing business. We rode our bikes to mow lawns, pulling the mower and trimmer in our custom-made lawnmower cart. I climbed trees. . . to the very top of fifty-foot trees. I explored water drainage tunnels. I went bungee jumping. I earned an orange belt in judo. One day, I spotted the family van rolling down the driveway. I ran over and hopped in, shifting the gear into park before it reached the road. I joined the middle school track team and ran six miles at my first practice. I convinced my Grandpa Milligan that I could mow his lawn, even though I was a girl. I thatched lawns. I painted. I washed windows. I helped people roof their houses. I was the first girl on the 30-mile Bear Lake Hike. I worked for a curbing company. I threw shot put, discus, and javelin all through high school, competing at the Simplot Games against girls more than twice my size. I rode my bike to LaPoint. I lifted lawnmowers. I hauled heavy bags of wheat. I was in Coach Belcher's boys' weightlifting class with all of the football players. I worked for my uncle on his sod farm. I canoed the Logan River. I changed my own flat tires. I drove a dune buggy.

So the "frail and slight" comment became a family joke. Mostly with my father. Because it was so far from the truth.

I got married and lived in a camper trailer with no electricity. I wore Carhartts. I spent a semester in South Africa. I had a winter baby and took her hiking and canoeing as soon as the snow thawed. Steve heard the "frail and slight" story and thought it was equally amusing. So the joking continued.

But now, it's no joke. I am frail and slight. And I feel like my body is falling apart. Maybe I ruined my body during my younger years. . . or maybe this is just what happens when you are a grandma.

Last month, I was tough. I felt strong and healthy, stronger and healthier than I had been in years. I was going to the gym regularly, and my six-pack started to emerge. But then, everything went downhill. I finally had to go to the doctor.

And now that Adam has announced it to the neighborhood, I might as well share it with the rest of the world.

I have a hernia along my midline incision. And I need surgery. Except that I don't have medical insurance, so I have to wait until January. Which is frustrating. Surgery is never fun. And I already had my January scheduled out . . . and February, March, and April too.

In the meantime, I am wearing an abdominal binder, and Steve is doing most of the laundry. And most of the other work around the house too. I am being cautious. Cautious because it's painful. And cautious because I'm somewhat terrified of what is happening inside my body.

I have had to make some serious modifications to my lifestyle. I walk by things on the floor and don't bend over to pick them up. I hold kids by the hand instead of carrying them. And I am trying to maintain my sanity without going to the gym. (I've never been a hardcore runner, but when I can't release my anger and frustration on the treadmill. . . I cry. So I've been crying. A lot. Enough that we are starting to wonder if I am also going through menopause.)

But I have an admirable husband. He takes good care of me. He tells me that he doesn't mind taking care of me. And he reminds me of all of the good characteristics and attributes that he and the other members of his family developed from taking care of his Grandma Whitney, suggesting that similar blessings will come to our children for allowing them to help take care of me. Sometimes, when I am teary-eyed, in pain from the bulge in my abdomen and discouraged by the things I can't do, he pulls me close and whispers that everything is as it should be. And I suppose it usually is.

4 comments:

Kayli said...

Oh no! I am so sorry Emily! That is really really really hard and I wish I could hand you my insurance for a week or four so you can get the operation done now.

But keep being cautious!! Really really really- and maybe you could start up meditation to help with the not running?? I've never meditated, but I read something about it and many people do say it's relaxing and stress-reducing and all that. Anyway, there's not much I can do to help so I guess I just need to feel like I gave some kind of useful suggestion.

And I'm glad Steve is being sweet. I'll be thinking of you in the coming month!

Mindy said...

Oh Em, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry you have to wait for surgery, I'm sorry you have to have surgery again, I'm sorry you're in pain, and I'm sorry you don't feel like the Emily I know and I love. I am grateful, however, that you have an amazing husband and kids who love and take care of you.

Natalie B. said...

I knew about your hernia but had no idea where it was! I am so sorry. I think not being able to do things yourself when you want to so bad is the definition of insanity to me. SO hard. But you have shown in the past you handle challenges and trials with grace and strength. You are really blessed to have such an understanding, kind husband! I would rather have a hernia any day that have be a six-pack working out gal married to a jerk. Ha ha.

Jaynee said...

Son of a B! I'm pissed for you! Can you swim or do anything like that that's low impact? I'm sorry, I don't know much about hernias other than that they're no bueno. January is only a month away... and time flies when you're having... well, not so much when you're in pain. Whatever I can do to help you, let me know. Seriously bummed for you. Bah. Humbug!