I vacated our marital bed two weeks ago after my husband underwent surgery to remove a growth in his ear. Neither of us slept much the night after the mastoidectomy. Peter was hyped up on steroids given to reduce swelling and catching up on all the cigarettes he couldn’t smoke during his ten hours in the hospital. I kept getting up to make sure he wasn’t bleeding to death. I ended up dozing in our recliner.
When Peter finally crashed the following evening, I cautiously joined him in bed. The next morning, Peter encouraged my exodus.
“Every time you moved, the pillow bumped my ear.”
Fine. He snores.
Since getting kicked out of bed, I’ve been exploring all the alternatives available in our house. This would be easier if everyone else would fall asleep and stay asleep.
Most nights my son nods off on the couch. That leaves his bed with its too-short blanket vacant. I snooze there until Philip wakes, usually around 2:00 am, turns on his bedroom light, and decides he wants to be in his own bed. I always think it’s sweet when he wants me to stay until I get one too many elbows in the neck. I extricate myself and go to the couch. If I’m lucky, Philip lets me stay there. If not, he pulls me back to his room where I spend the rest of the night on his floor using his overstuffed teddy bear as a pillow.
Other nights Philip falls asleep in his bed. While the blanket on the couch is longer and warmer, the living room is noisier. The humming of Peter’s computer, the whir of the refrigerator and the gurgling of the fish tank combine in a cacophony that keeps me awake. I lie there thinking that I hear Philip stirring in his room. I’ll tiptoe down the hall to check, freezing when I hit the creaky spot. I peek in and find him unmoving. Unfortunately, my investigation has awakened the dog, so I have to pet him or be subjected to his whining in my ear or his tongue across my cheek.
Let’s say I manage to appease the dog, tune out the white noise and fall asleep. Peter has dibs on our bed, but it doesn’t mean he uses it. Pain wakes him up. He’ll pop a Percocet, but he may or may not return to bed. It depends on how much discomfort he’s in, how early he went to bed, and how much napping he did during the day. If he stays up, he sits at his desk in the living room or relaxes on the couch. We can’t both use the couch, so I have to find a different place to catch some shut-eye.
Peter’s getting out of bed awakens me briefly no matter where I am, but I can usually fall back asleep. The guest bedroom, despite its groaning mattress, offers me the best respite. Philip and Roscoe so far haven’t sought me out when I sack out there. But then, when Peter can’t sleep and decides to watch TV, I’m out of luck. Surgery has actually made his hearing worse, so he turns the volume up to binge-watch home renovation shows. And then I’m awake. Or I’m asleep, but worn out from nightmares of crumbling foundations or hidden knob and tube wiring.
Maybe soon I’ll be back in my own bed, resting comfortably under the weight of our warm, red comforter. I’d dream about that day if only I could get some damn sleep.