My partner is a cyclist. He’s not one of those lycra wearing, always rides on the road despite their being a perfectly good bike path and only sips the best coffee type of cyclists, he just prefers to ride his bicycle to and from work every day. I believe his preference stems from the fact that at twenty-eight years old he never obtained a licence, due to non-necessity, and now, simply cannot be bothered. He objects that it has more to do with our household budgeting, his constant desire to exercise and loathing of cardio in the gym and finally, because apparently he likes it. I find little enjoyable about icy winds slapping my fingers and face as I fight for breath up a hill, but then, I’m not a Scotsman and I don’t wear skirts in winter. The weather here in Perth has been somewhat wild as of late and very, very wet. The slippery roads lead to that inevitable phone call one Wednesday afternoon, “Hey babe….yeah I’ve come off the bike. It’s kind of bad.”
“Well I can’t get back on the bike.”
In the car I jumped, cursing and screaming at the traffic as I attempted the quickest legal leg from the western suburbs to the eastern. I found him sitting in a bottle shop, bloodied and bruised with an ice pack to his shoulder and the staff keeping his mind off the pain.
“Right,” I motioned to his shoulder, “Show me.”
He released the icepack to reveal a shoulder swollen and malformed. I could tell instantly he had fractured his collarbone. I am a paramedic after all.
“Right, in the car. We’re going to the hospital.”
When I sent a message to my mother, also a paramedic, that we were sitting in the hospital, her reply consisted of, “Bloody hell. Let us know what happens. (Ambulance emoticon. Bicycle Emoticon. PMSL emoticon).” I regret teaching her how to make those little pictures every time she messages.
It always amazes me that an emergency room can be void of any patients and yet it still takes hours to see a doctor, even with a head injury. Finally my diagnosis was confirmed. Four fractures to the left clavicle and a concussion. My family have a history of going all out when we injure ourselves, there are no half-assed wounds here and after five years, my partner is definitely a member of the family. I’m sure this was just another initiation right.
In the middle of the night he awoke in pain, forcing me to stumble blindly through the house, kicking furniture I’m sure was on the other side of the room, until my groping hands found the fridge. There I would collect his pain killers and fix him a drink before soothing his frustrations and will him back to sleep. Come daylight, I would tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come alive…and then realise my name was being called, requesting that I find a pair of clean underwear, pants, socks and a jacket. Oh, and could I start the shower for him?
We live in a rickety old rental with permanently leaking pipes. It takes his strong hand to twist the taps to negate the leak; naturally it took both my hands and my entire weight to turn the taps on. I then had to towel him dry and dress him. My partner struggles to dress most days as he’s quite muscular and, like most gym junkies, he favours clothing that accentuates his hard earned physique. So there I was, kneeling before him, trying to be as gentle as possible as I tugged and wiggled his form fitting jocks and sweat pants up his tree-trunk legs. The most difficult part was maneuvering both his morning wood and an ass I can literally bounce pennies off into the jocks. I suppose it’s a testament to our relationship that neither of us was embarrassed.
I then prepared his breakfast and his protein shake and made sure he was comfortable on our double reclining couch. Draping our large woolen blanket over the both of us, I sat close enough to him that I was there if he needed, but not close enough to touch. His mood was dark, a pout hung off his bottom lip and the grumps took over. At some point in the morning, he fell asleep. Of course, it was the instant I noticed this that my bladder decided to tell my brain it was the toilet for me. Now came the ultimate question, do I move and risk waking him, or do I hold on. It was then the thought struck me, it was then that I thought, this is what having a child must be like. Well, that killed the clucky-ness.