I wish everyone could meet my doctor.
As a nurse myself, I respect her education and experience. She is a talented doctor, but that is just one reason why I put my health in her hands. Equally important to addressing my few health issues are how much I enjoy talking with her about life, and about how well we are both aging. (We are the same age, and we look marvelous!) I guess that would go to her bedside manner. I would like to think that I’m something special, but I am sure she is just as pleasant to her other patients as she is to me.
I recently went for my yearly physical.
After weighing, ugh, tinkling in a cup, and stripping off my clothes only to don what I consider a glorified paper towel, I carefully heaved myself up onto the exam table to wait on her. “Carefully” because if you’ve ever had to model a paper towel yourself you know how easily they can tear. Have you ever tried looking dignified while wearing a paper towel? I’m not sure how she manages to keep a straight face when she walks into the exam room. I spent the next few minutes readjusting my covering to make sure no one got flashed when the door opened.
Straight faced, she breezes in and takes her place on the round, wheeled stool that all doctors seem to prefer. We review my health over the last year, and I convince her to put off the exam that is due on my lower half. “Let’s do that next time”, I say. From there, we jump to a very brief, but significant, discussion about marital fidelity. I try my best to convince her that I am perfectly comfortable in the knowledge that my husband is completely faithful to our marriage. Yet she is reluctant to take my word for it. She tells me that perhaps she is jaded. She’s just seen so much.
I sit there in my paper towel trying to figure out how, in the short time I have left on that table, I can convince her that I really am sure about my husband and why. I glance down, and find that I have ripped my towel. Great. I try a couple of one-liners, but she’s quick with a word or two herself. She’s a tough nut to crack. I begin to wonder why she is so jaded about marital fidelity. Reluctantly, I let the subject fall, and we move on.
But in my mind there are things I wish to say to my doctor about marriage, and keeping it secure and holy.
It’s what I believe marriage must be for it to survive. Holy. Holy means separate, or set apart. Both my husband and I have set ourselves apart from all others. We are separate together. But we are not naive. We know that for our marriage to remain holy we have to pay attention. We must be as sentries on guard for anyone who would defile what is now sacred, even if we are that “anyone”. We know that attacks on marriages come from within as much as from outside the relationship. That doesn’t mean we always get it right. Sometimes, if we are not careful, the confidence we have in our relationship becomes a liability.
I remember a time when my husband and I allowed an argument to go too far. We both said some things we didn’t mean and were sorry for. Later I asked him how could I let myself say those kinds of things to someone I love so much. (I thought the same thing about him, but reminded myself we had made it to the makeup stage, and didn’t want to go backward.) We were hugging at the time, so I heard his muffled voice say, “Because we are human. We make mistakes.”
We make some whoppers.
He’s right. We can be nasty. We are so confident in our commitment to each other that we allow ourselves to say things we wouldn’t otherwise. What’s so holy about that, then? Well, it’s the third part of the union that makes it holy, really. Because apart from God our marriage is nothing more than a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. We are two selfish people who mostly just want our own way. It’s only because of God’s involvement in our relationship that we are ever able to put the other’s needs and desires above our own.
Sitting there on the exam table, (Is there a draft in here?) I realize there is no way that I can, in the span of a few moments, even attempt to share with my doctor how I can possibly be so confident in my husband and our relationship without coming across as a dope in a torn paper garment. And as frustrating as that is, I have to smile to myself. Because even though I cannot convince her, I know it to be true.
We move on to discuss what roadmaps my legs are these days. Where did all of those little veins come from, anyway? I told her I am sure that if I could just get my hands on some hypertonic saline and a syringe I could fix those things myself. (Nurses are usually convinced they can fix anything.) To which my doctor slaps her hand to her forehead and says, “Please don’t tell me you’re going to ask me to write you a prescription for that!”
“Of course not”, I reply. Although…
How do you keep your relationship to your spouse “holy”?