Long Night At The Hospital (Part II)

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It was dark in the room except for a small light above the
nurse’s station in the corner of the room. Aspen was crying in the crib, and
Mel had her arms across her chest, hands on her shoulders. She was trying to
sit up, but each time she did, she flinched in pain because of her incision.
“I’ve been calling you for awhile, but you wouldn’t wake up.
I need the nurse.”
She said all of this through loud whispers, and there were
long gaps between words as she breathed in irregular breaths.
This was one of the things I was worried about. My anti anxiety
medication causes me to sleep deeply.
I was terrified. I’d never seen her in this much pain. Mel
doesn’t complain much when it comes to pain. I’m the one who bitches about
things. I’m the one who says things like, “I’m dying,” every time I get a cold
or the flu. Not Mel though. She’s the strong one.
I called the nurse, and then I picked up Aspen.
We waited for the nurse, and as we did, Mel squirmed, and
breathed heavy, in an attempt to ease the pain.
“It’s that stupid air. It hurts so bad,” she said.
I hate moments like this. I so badly wanted to do something
for my wife, but I didn’t know what I could do outside of hold the baby, and
try to give Mel comfort.
I said things like, “The nurse is coming. It’s going to be
I asked her if I could try rubbing her shoulders, or
something. I asked if I could help her sit up. “Would that help?”
To most of what I said, she didn’t respond. She just cried.
And when she did respond, it was always, “no.”
The nurse came in. She was an older woman, probably in her
early 50s, short, with thick-lensed glasses.
She told Mel what we already knew, that she was having pain
because of the air in her body. “It’s nothing to be too worried about, but it
is uncomfortable.”
I never thought air inside a person could cause pain, but
honestly, it’s never something I’ve thought much about. I’ve never considered
that there are parts of the body that regularly have air in them, and parts
that don’t, and when you mess with that equation, you can end up in serious
The nurse told us that she couldn’t give Mel additional pain
medication for a few more hours. I can’t recall the exact amount of time, but I
recall that Mel looked at me like the nurse had told her she couldn’t give it
to her for eternity.
Now keep in mind that I was a little out of it during all
this because of the medication I’d taken. Some of the details are a bit foggy.
I can’t recall if the nurse said she’d talk to one of the doctors, or if she
said Mel was just going to have to wait. But what I do recall was feeling like
there was not much that could be done, and Mel was just going to have to tough
it out.
It was getting close to 3AM when Mel asked if I’d give her a
priesthood blessing. This is a Mormon ordinance for the sick and afflicted. To
perform a priesthood blessing for the sick, I needed consecrated oil. Luckly I
placed some in my bag before we left. It just seemed like a good idea. But it also
required two elders from the church. One to seal the oil, and another to
perform the blessing. I was an elder, but I had no idea where I’d find another
at 3AM in a Salem Oregon Hospital. Most men in the church over the age of 18
are ordained elders. It’s not like finding a priest or anything. But we also
weren’t in Utah anymore, where the majority of the population is Mormon.
I know that readers outside the church might see something
like this as doing nothing, and that’s fine. I get it. But Mormonism is
something that I believe in, and Mel believes in. I think that there is power
in a priesthood blessing, and the thought of giving her a blessing helped me to
feel like I could do something for her. That I was serving some purpose, where
before I was just standing there, watching her suffer.
I walked into the hallway and found the nurse. I asked her
if she knew anyone working that was Mormon.
“Yes,” she said. “Sally is Mormon… I think.”
“Would you mind telling her that I’d like to give my wife a
blessing, and I need another person to help with that? She’ll know what I’m
talking about.”
In about 20 minutes, someone knocked on the door. It was a stocky,
smiling man in his early 20s named Brandon. He said that he worked in a lab
somewhere on the floor below us. He was a member of the Mormon Church, and was
told by his sister (a nurse on this floor) that someone needed a priesthood
I gave Brandon my bottle of consecrated oil (olive oil that
has been consecrated by elders in the church). He sealed the anointing by
placing a drop of oil on Mel’s head, laying his hands on her scalp, and
performing the ordinance. Then together we placed our hands on her head, and I
blessed Mel to have a speedy recovery. I blessed that the pain in her body
would subside, and that she would be strong enough to endure what pain she had
I said amen, and Brandon left.
I can’t say that the pain left Mel’s body in an instant. She
was still clearly in pain. But what I can say is that she fell asleep a short
time later, and once she woke up, it was because the nurse woke her, and
offered her more pain medication.
Whether or not Mormonism is true, or if what I did for my
wife were simply words and olive oil, is not the point of me telling you this. For
me, once she fell asleep, I felt a deep level of satisfaction. I felt like I’d
done something to help her. There was a comfort in giving Mel a blessing that
helped her grapple with the pain, and helped me feel useful. There was
something really cool and beautiful about a stranger and myself coming together
to do something for Mel that could bring her so much relief. It was an
interesting kind of intimacy to share with someone I didn’t know.
By the next morning, Mel was up and walking around the room.
Between my medication and the excitement of the night, I didn’t have the chance
to get anxious. I was grateful for that. But more so, I was grateful that I’d
not left, and that I’d taken the opportunity to stay with my wife, and given
her the comfort and support she needed. 

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife,
a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play
dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood,
he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His
essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The
Huffington Post
, Scary
, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in
Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. 

Photo by Lucinda Higley

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