I thought I knew what to expect when my partner went in for his top surgery. We had done hours of research, compiled lists, packed our bags, asked all the questions we could think of, and I was pretty sure that I was prepared for whatever the healing process would throw at us.
For the most part everything that occurred was expected, but boy did that week throw me some doozies that I never could have anticipated…
1.You cannot do it all by yourself (especially if you’re smaller than your partner)
Alex and I had to travel five hours north for his surgery, so we elected to stay in a local hotel for the week following the procedure so that we could easily return for the two post-op visits (one the day after for a check-in and one a week later for drain and nipple dressing removal). While this was a very good choice for his physical comfort, the timing of his surgery meant that nobody else was able to come with us, so I was left doing all of his care by myself, which proved to be very physically taxing for someone who is 5’2″ and sedentary at best.
2. You will have no personal time at all
I think that I spent less than an hour by myself for the entire week we were in the hotel, partially because Alex needed me almost constantly, but also because even when he didn’t need me, I was afraid to leave him alone in case he did. We made it work, but it would have been a million times easier if I had had someone to help me.
3. You will, at some point, feel exasperated and/or frustrated with your partner, and that’s okay
Having to spend every waking moment caring for the needs of another full grown (and usually very independent) adult would test the patience of a nun, and I assure you, I’m far from a nun. If, like myself, you don’t have children or anyone else who depends on you for all of their personal needs, it’s easy to get frustrated when someone else needs you constantly.
4. You will feel horribly guilty every time your partner is in pain, even if it’s not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it
Every time I had to drive Alex anywhere the tiniest bump in the road would jostle his drains and make him wince and whimper in pain, and this is coming from a guy who will tough out the nastiest of migraines just because he doesn’t like to take drugs. Each and every time this happened I felt so guilty. Once when I was helping him adjust himself in bed, I bumped his surgical drain, causing him to shout in pain, which resulted in me bursting into tears and locking myself in the bathroom for ten minutes.
5. All of the exhaustion and frustration will be worth it when your partner reaches a milestone in their recovery
In the week following Alex’s recovery, I found myself celebrating things I never thought I would be excited about a grown man doing. “Baby! You put your shorts on by yourself!” “You ate a hot dog unassisted!” Even just watching Alex laugh after a particularly stressful day was such a joyful moment for me. Cherish those achievements, celebrate the little things, and remember that your partner is taking a huge step that requires immense bravery to become their most authentic self, and you will get through it together just fine.
I would love to hear from other Homies about what surprises their or their partner’s recovery brought. What experiences did you find yourself celebrating or muddling through?