Social Butterfly

Communication sometimes is less-than-perfect around here. Mrs. Lion wrote about my complaint that I felt she was distant. She pointed out that on Wednesday night I was asleep a good deal of the time. That’s true. However, it’s not the awake time I was thinking about. Something much more subtle.

Mrs. Lion and I have our evening routine. It’s pretty isolating. Mrs. Lion plays games on her iPad and I watch TV. We do this in bed. Our bed is a split-king from Sleep Number. It’s two adjustable twin beds next to one another. There’s a little gap between them. We got this before my shoulder surgery because I needed a way to have an adjustable platform to accommodate me.

So, our bed isolates us physically. We can’t sleep touching one another–not that we did in the past. Both of us seem more comfortable without contact. Now it takes considerable effort to migrate over to one bed (usually mine) for snuggle time. Most of the time we are both awake, we hold hands.

I wasn’t talking about physical isolation. It would be nice if we could touch more, that wasn’t my point. We’re both guilty of immersing ourselves in solitary pursuits. I could watch TV by myself without Mrs. Lion in the room. It isn’t that there’s an acute issue here. We are happy together. I just wish we could find ways to engage outside of sex.

This is probably a common issue with long-married couples. We’ve heard each other’s stories over and over. It doesn’t take all that long to get an update of what happened during the day. So, there have to be big gaps when we aren’t talking. I get that. Usually, I don’t care. Maybe it’s my anxiety over the upcoming surgery. I do worry that it could hurt me and make relating to my lioness more difficult.

The operation, while not exotic, isn’t common. The hospital does about one a month. You know the old story: It’s always better to stay away from the specials in a restaurant. These are dishes the chef has very little experience cooking. Stick with the stuff the kitchens made thousands of times. The same is true with surgery. For example, my rotator cuff surgery is performed by my surgeon 10 or 15 times a week. He can almost do it with his eyes closed.

This reduces the risk to me. He’s seen and done it all. If he made mistakes, they’ve been on other people. In a sense, next month’s surgery is a special. The hospital does cervical spine operations every day. But almost none of them are of the sort I’m getting. The reason is that most people get neck surgery to deal with pain. What I need has nothing to do with pain, it’s making space for my spinal cord. In a very real sense, my surgery is simpler. But, it’s relatively new (35 years old) and infrequently performed.

I’ve also been worrying about pain control. I take a blood thinner which makes it impossible for me to take aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti–inflammatory drugs. I’m pretty much restricted to opioids. Fortunately for me, they don’t addict me. I have been on them for various conditions over the last few years and have absolutely no problem stopping when the pain diminishes. Still, there’s a big issue with them. They stop working after about three weeks. A lot of people up the dosage when this happens. They take more pills. That works for a while but starts a vicious cycle. It’s also the beginning of addiction.

Fortunately, I don’t do that. So, I’m vulnerable to serious pain if the opioids stop working. This worries me. I’ve been in contact with the pain management doctors and we seem to have a plan. Since it’s new I don’t know if it will work. So I worry.

Mrs. Lion is aware that I’m upset about all this. She is too. Neither of us is very good at sharing our worries. I don’t know exactly what we can do. I suppose we can try playing games together. Mrs. Lion loves games; me not so much. We have some TV programs we both like, but even with those Mrs. Lion likes to multitask with her iPod while she watches.

Maybe this is just my problem. It may be unreasonable for me to want something that I can’t clearly describe.  Mrs. Lion is much more of a loner than I. I’m not exactly a social butterfly either. We are well-suited for one another. Like everything else where there is a difference between us, we’ll find a solution that works for us both. I guess this will work itself out as well.


  1. Lion, Mrs. Lion.

    At the risk of sounding macabre (and this is not meant to be) consider for a moment that time in this life is limited for all of us. Imagine that you are in the future somewhere and one or the other of you has been gone for some time. You are alone. Then, one day, you learn that you are to be gifted your spouse’s presence for the accumulated time that you had spent pursuing solitary activities while you were both still alive. How would you spend that time? How prominent would that iPad and television be then? Casual time together happens or it doesn’t happen. Quality varies. Meaningful time is almost always made. Quality is more consistent. Make time (sexual and non-sexual) for each other, be deliberate about being together, and work toward quality. Soon enough this becomes habit and a way of life.

    Lion, you are WAY over thinking this procedure. If you think there is a monster under the bed, in your world, there is. If you don’t, there’s not. Conjure what you will, nothing you imagine will affect the actual event or the aftermath. It WILL play havoc with your state of mind. Besides, sometimes those monthly specials are there for the chef to be able to show off skills and talent that are solid parts of her bag of tricks but are beyond the normal bounds of her restaurant.These are still delicious meals, they are merely not part of the routine. Not mundane. Have faith. Trust your doc. By all you’ve written, you are in excellent hands.


  2. You sound a lot like my dad in that you think she can’t do more than one thing at a time. I typically will watch tv with my family while I’m working on coursework for college. And I can even hold a conversation and tell you what is happening in all three at any given time. Now I could just as easily go to my room, watch what shows I want to, still work on coursework and call a friend if I so pleased. But I wouldn’t be spending time with my family. I say you are over thinking her playing games on her iPad, and that it sounds like male thing when it comes to know viewing that as quality time. I hope you are better soon!

    1. Author

      there is a subtle but significant difference between multitasking and relating. Some activities are physically isolating the good example is playing games on an iPad. Most of the time, I’m completely happy with Mrs. Lion deeply involved in her games. Then there are other times when direct, human contact is required. I can’t put into words but it’s something you can recognize immediately when you see it. In any case, Mrs. Lion and I are making that contact much more and we both like it.

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