Posted by: wrmcnutt | February 26, 2010

I Broke My Wife

Ever have one of those days when you just make a bad decision?

The other day I woke up with my phone ringing to beat the band.  Now, this is a little unusual. My friends and colleagues at work know that I don’t communicate well by phone, so I mostly get text messages and email.  Further, I didn’t recognize the phone number.  All the folks I normally talk to are in my contacts list on my phone, so it’s even rarer that I don’t know the few incoming calls I get.  Used to be I ignored calls from unrecognized numbers.  I am the telemarketer’s nightmare.  But recently my father had been ill, and I’d been getting calls from all kinds of people in the health we-don’t-care field.  Dad’s gone now, but the habit remains.

The lady on the other end was the slightly paniced instructor at the grammar school my SCA barony was doing a medieval demonstration for that morning. Ok, for the newcomers, I’m in the SCA, a medieval re-creation organization similar to the Civil War re-enactors you may have heard of.  We get together, put on armor, bash each other with simulated swords, wear funny clothes, and otherwise try and re-create the interesting/romantic parts of the middle ages.  There’s a lot of us, mostly in the United States, although that’s changing.  We’re divided into geographic kingdoms, and call our large gatherings “wars.” One of our community service activities is to provide these demonstrations of medieval skills and technologies to local schools.  And very few things rivet an audience of pre-adolescents than two people in suits of armor whaling on each other with simulated weapons.

In any case, the local contact was in a minor panic. It was 15 minutes to demo time, and there were no Knights in Shining Armor to be seen anywhere.  I’d been awake for two minutes.  I had to tell her I’ll see what I can find out three times before she’d let me off the phone.  “How did this become my job?  Oh yeah, civic responsibility. There’s a problem.  I should try and solve it.  Ok – call the Seneshal.  Maybe I can just hand this off.  Nope.  Herself is currently driving, and cannot deal until she gets to a phone.  Clock is ticking.  Think-think-think.  I have now been awake for six minutes. Wife now enters room, sits down.

“What’s up?”

I explain the situation.  She asks the first question that came to MY mind:  Why did she call ME?  And how did she get my number?  Never mind . . .  Solve problem.

And then the wife had a suggestion, Lady Aislynn is an apprentice.  I’ll bet Mistress Marthe has her cell number!

I bow to my wife superior phone-tree-fu and her knowledge of the complicated peer-associate relationships around this end of the Kingdom.  Marthe was called and the cell number duly acquired.  A quick call out, and Lord Wolfgang answered the phone.  They were, in fact, just arriving at the school, and the demo would be going on as scheduled.  There wasn’t really a problem; Wolfgang and Aislynn were on top of things.  And then Wolfgang asked that fateful question:  “Is Lady Catherine still coming?”

I looked over at the aforementioned Lady Catherine, hair as yet uncombed, in sweatpants and T-shirt, who blearily said, “I don’t think I’m gonna make it.”

So I poked her, very gently.   “Can you pull it together and go?  Wolfgang won’t have anybody to fight with in front of a gym full of little kids.”  (I couldn’t go myself; I had to work that day.)

I got a very grumpy eye-roll and mumbles about not knowing if her armor was fit to fight in, but she suited up and went out the door.  I called the Seneshal and advised her that Aislynn and Wolfgang were already handling the demo, and that I was cramming Catherine into her armor so that Wolfgang would have somebody to fight.l

And that was when it all started to go bad.  She arrived at the demo a few minutes later, and Wolfgang worked the crowd.  He explained that Lady Catherine was a girl.  (A suit of armor does NOTHING for your figure.)  And he worked up the boys to root for him and the girls to root for Catherine.  They were very excited.  The two squared off, and Wolfgang raised his great-sword.  This is a massively intimidating engine of destruction about six feet long.  He leveled it at her and poked the point at her.  He wasn’t poking hard yet. This was what we call a “ranging shot,” to confirm that she was close enough to engage.  The normal, everyday response to one of these is to bring up your own weapon or shield to push the weapon point off-line, and to step back.

And then, according to Catherine, she “felt something pop” in the back of her knee.  She thought that someone had poked her from behind.  Then the knee gave way and she dropped like a sack of flour onto the floor.  Although she looked fine when I saw her, there was, apparently, gasping, crying, a little (very quiet) swearing, and maximum efforts not to get sick in front of that gym full of little kids.  The school was a private one, and had a physical therapist in house, so she got looked at immediately and was advised that she probably had a soft tissue injury.  Maybe a torn muscle or tendon, and certainly a strain.  Ice, anti-inflammatories, and a referral to an orthopedic surgeon were the order of the day.  She got home okay, and scheduled a visit to the ortho-doc for today.  I asked when the MRI was scheduled and she said, “Oh, they’ll want to see me first.”

Okay, why is that?  American doctors REFUSE to diagnose or act until they have run every. Single. Test.  At least every single one  your insurance company will tolerate.  The bastard KNOWS he’s going to want an MRI before he acts.  Why not schedule it NOW and get on the list.  We can always cancel if it become unnecessary, and the overall process will take less time.  No, that’s not the way it works, because it doesn’t cause the patient’s life to be disrupted for the maximum length of time.

In any case, we made the voyage to Turkey Creek today (aka halfway to Atlanta) and saw the ortho-doc.  He gave a preliminary diagnosis of a torn lateral meniscus of the right knee, but will need to schedule a guess what?  M – R – I before he will commit to a diagnosis or treatment.   I give “this is the way it’s done” a giant eyeroll and two snorts.  The MRI is in a WEEK, and then, if it really IS a torn lateral meniscus, he’ll need to schedule an operating room to fix it, so that will be another delay.

Meanwhile, my wife, the ER nurse can’t work, can’t fight, can barely make it up stairs, and isn’t going to get any better until she gets cut on.

But – for friends and family, for right now, she’s getting around ok on her own, and tomorrow she should be able to drive herself.  She’s using my grandfather’s cane, ace bandages, and anti-inflammatories.  She’s not in any pain as long as she doesn’t bend her knee.  Our biggest worry is that she’s only got 3 days of sick leave.  This may eat up all of her vacation time, and she might not be able to go to Lilies or Pennsic.

And of course, my problem. If I’d kept my mouth shut and not crammed her into her armor and off to the demo, she would have been safely couch-potatoing instead of tearing up vital structural members of her body.  And I’m feeling pretty bad about it.  Dad didn’t give me a LOT of marital advice, but one of the things that came up very early on in my journey to manhood was “real men don’t break their wives.”

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  1. Please stop blaming yourself. I am a grown woman and make my own decisions. Besides, I’m gonna blame on Wolfgang. After all, he kept teasing me that I’d let down all the 2nd grade girls. 😛

  2. No, you didn’t break your wife. Sometimes we just break for no reason (it’s all that “fragile” femininity/”weaker vessel” crap the ancients like to go on about. Kel would agree.

    • Would all and sundry please bear witness that I never said any such thing. This was done by a commenter on my blog, not by

  3. Only if *you* had been the one to give her the ranging shot would I say you broke her.

    And Wolfgang is much more fun to blame. This is the stuff of great stories around the fire.

  4. I’m liking the blame Wolfgang option. It has much merit.

  5. as I am an expert in random and insane knee injuries, three torn ACL’s to date, I can safely say that you didn’t break your wife; but we shall all blame Wolfgang because it’s way too much fun to do so.

  6. yes yes, blame wolfgang. sounds good to me.

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