I’m currently sporting a splint on an avulsion fracture. No, it’s not from sex, it’s from an errant soccer ball and not worth posting about. But a month with my mangled finger has reminded me of various other injuries where difficulties about sexual expectations arose…or didn’t. (Ha! Sex pun.)
When I am injured or feel like shit, sex is the last thing on my mind.
The first time I had multiple fingers in splints, I was miserable. If Byung-hun Lee had walked into my apartment shirtless, the only itch I’d have wanted him to scratch would have been the one in the middle of my back.
Then I’d have asked him to clean the cat box and vacuum.
Because no one on earth wants sex when in misery or pain, right?
Enter the husband.
After his first knee surgery, about a year into our marriage, Andy cast bedroom eyes at me by Day 3.
“You are outta your mind,” I told him. “You’re supposed to be resting, elevating, and icing.”
He was undaunted. “I could do all that in certain positions—”
“Forget it. Not without a doctor’s note.”
The orthopedist was one of Andy’s people. The doctor gave my husband a note stating that conjugal relations could resume AND a note for the DMV to give Andy a handicapped placard.
“How can you be well enough for sex but not well enough to walk an extra 10 feet into the grocery store?!” I asked.
“Doctor says it’s a quality of life issue,” Andy told me smugly. “I should save my knee for important things.”
Andy’s doctor is male, of course. I began to see a trend.
Andy’s retina is unfortunately prone to small tears. No one is sure why. (His optometrist officially termed the cause “shit happens.”) The first time Andy got his retinal tears soldered back together by laser, he came home with a list of things not to do: drinking, exercising, or any activity that might raise his blood pressure. He was also supposed to stay in a dark room.
“I know something fun we can do in a dark room,” he told me, with a nudge. (Bedroom eyes were impossible from behind his oversized, geriatric sunglasses.)
“There’s no way you’re allowed to have sex,” I told him.
“It doesn’t say anything about sex on the instructions.”
“Dude. You’re not supposed to raise your blood pressure!”
“Sex doesn’t count!”
“It SO counts. Seriously, this is the one time when masturbating might actually make you go blind!”
“I don’t believe you,” Andy told me truculently.
“I don’t care. No sex without a—”
“I know, I know, a doctor’s note,” Andy grumbled. “What if I call and ask?”
“Go right ahead.”
“Fine, I will!”
Our house is small. It was easy to overhear Andy’s side of the conversation:
“I had some retinal tears lasered today and I’m calling about the after care instructions…yeah, well, it mentions exercise, but it doesn’t say anything about…you know, sex.” There was a long pause, followed by, “What? Are you serious?! Well, for how many days? Really?”
So much for keeping that blood pressure down.
When I tore my quadriceps muscle, Andy took me to the orthopedist. Since I was on crutches, the doctor handed Andy my list of instructions on our way out. He read it as we waited for the elevator.
“No walking unaided, no exercise, ibuprofen, ice, elevation…hey, there’s nothing in here about when you can have sex again. Do you want to go back and ask?”
“Because moving my leg hurts like a motherfucker, that’s why. I can’t see having sex until I can at least walk again. Not unless you want to do the whole Victorian, ‘lie back and think of England, dear’ routine.”
Andy didn’t answer for
several too many seconds.
I waved a threatening crutch. “You’d better not even be considering that option.”
“Never, honey. Never.”