Archived Story

Waiting for good things to come from waiting

Published 10:04am Friday, April 18, 2014

Things I Tell My Wife by Matthew Knutson

“The doctor said everything went really well,” I said to Sera after waiting to see her for several hours while she was in surgery. After several months of my wife having tremendous back pain, she finally had surgery to remove a disc protrusion.

Waiting is what we’ve grown used to doing. As I sat in the waiting room for several hours at the hospital, I realized how much waiting we’d already been doing before arriving at the hospital. While that room was dedicated to waiting, it was not something new to us as we’ve attempted to address Sera’s disc protrusion.

We’ve waited to see if resting helped my wife’s back, waited to see if chiropractic care would make a difference, the same with physical therapy and even a cortisone epidural. Surgery would be the last resort, and on Monday, Sera finally got the procedure she had been waiting to receive. Now we’re waiting to see if it worked.

Early signs show us that our waiting may be over. The numbness in her right leg has faded, which is the biggest indicator that progress is being made, but we’re still waiting.

Back pain has taught us a lot about waiting. In not-so-little time, we’ve learned that waiting, if long enough, creates new routines, worrying tendencies and impatience. These traits aren’t universal, but they have shaped our first year of marriage.

When Sera first began experiencing back pain, we quickly realized that a new routine had to be developed. Twice-a-week Zumba classes were taken out and stretches were added in. I had to consciously add minutes when we made a trip to the store because her mobility would slow us down. If something fell to the ground, it’d be easier if I just picked it up. The longer we waited for her back to get better, the more our routines changed.

Waiting also brings about worry, especially for my wife. There were moments where Sera certainly worried her back would never improve. The amount of worry that comes in the nights before a trip to the doctor for surgery is irrationally high.

On the other hand, worrying that the surgery would be canceled or something would prevent us from getting to the hospital for the surgery also occurred. Almost from the day the surgery was scheduled, the worrying while we waited began. For some, worrying comes naturally and if given more time to worry, it will only increase.

Impatience also came with waiting. My wife has been coping with her disc protrusion for over a year, and it’s only become more uncomfortable. The level of pain has consistently been on the high range of the scale, and with that comes impatience.

We frequently wondered how long the pain would have to continue until the doctors found a proper plan of treatment. Why should she even continue with certain treatments if there was no result? Waiting only escalates the amount of impatience a person has.

Even since we exchanged vows in August, I’ve been waiting for the “in sickness and in health” vow to fall to the latter option. While I’ve waited, it’s been important that I’ve learned from this. Marriage is not solely about being head over heels in love and romantic gestures. It’s about a daily commitment to each other, even when one half of the duo isn’t at 100 percent.

Sera won’t always be the sick one, and I won’t always be the caretaker. But at several points in our marriage, we will both return to those roles. It’s been beneficial to start off on that foot, rather than having to learn it several years into our commitment to one another.

I certainly don’t wish it on other couples, but if we all spoke our vows with a concrete awareness that both good and bad times are waiting for us in the future, I think more couples would be successful.

Do good things come to those who wait? That’s what we’re hoping. As we waited for Sera to be discharged from the hospital, the waiting turned from one of worry to one of hope. We’re now waiting for the pain of surgery to heal, and with it, hopefully reveal the previous back pain has been relieved.


Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.