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My husband is falling apart at the seams. He just had knee surgery for the second time this year and is scheduled for elbow surgery in a couple of weeks.

That leaves me in the position of taking days off from my “official” job so I can be his taxi driver back and forth to Bethesda, Md., and his nurse and waitress back home.

Believe me when I say that I would much rather be at my elementary school, chasing down the wildest students on campus, than answering to his every little whim.

Our day started extremely early because he had to be at the hospital by 5 a.m. I woke up at 3 to make Jimmy and Ronnie’s lunches, leave “love notes” for the three boys and to pack my bag for the long wait while Ron was under the knife.

One thing we didn’t have to wait for was a good parking spot when we arrived, which was the first time that has ever happened at a military hospital.

Ron was already giving me orders before we got out of the car. He was warming me up for his post-surgical helplessness to come.

Everything went just as smoothly as it had 10 months ago, and this time, with any luck, the problem is fixed. I didn’t get a lot done during the hours I spent waiting, however.

Last February, I wrote an entire newspaper column and studied for one of my classes while he was having knee surgery. This time, I fell asleep. Perhaps I knew what the afternoon had in store for me.

In an ideal world, Ron would come home all doped up on painkillers and sleep the rest of the day away.

Unfortunately, he was wide awake and starving when we pulled into our driveway around noon.

The orders came spewing from his mouth as I held Glory back from jumping on him … Oh, wait, excuse me for a moment while I go see what he needs.

(It was a fairly easy assignment this time; he just wanted an ice pack and his medicine with a glass of water. And for some reason, he wanted me to stand there and wait for him to take the pill and then carry his glass into the kitchen!)

OK, back where I left off … I was holding Glory back so Ron could hobble over to his recliner when he began listing all of his immediate needs. There were so many that I might not be able to remember them all, but I’ll try.

He needed a glass of ice chips, two grilled cheese sandwiches with a pickle and no mayo, the newspaper, two pillows placed gently underneath his knee, an ice pack, a Coke, the remote control and his bedroom slippers.

The part where I had to take his shoes off and put the slippers on his feet was hard to pull off without making a snide comment, but somehow I managed.

Well, that’s not entirely true, but he asked for it when he said, “So this is the worse part of for better or worse?”

I couldn’t help but respond, “No; you’re almost this demanding on a daily basis!”

His response to that comment was to tune me out and watch an hour of daytime talk shows. I’m not referring to the good shows hosted by celebrities who make millions of dollars. Ron prefers the low-budget shows.

Fortunately, he somehow nodded off to sleep in the midst of the teary-eyed confrontation happening on TV, giving me the chance to steal the remote and relax for a few minutes.

When Ron woke up, needing more ice chips, the remote, his computer, and a fresh pack of ice, it was almost time for Tommy to arrive home from school and give me some relief.

Of course, by that time, my patient was starting to ask what was for dinner.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 19 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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