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Andrea Langworthy's column: 32 days; still, no Scrabble®

My husband hasn’t been at work for over a month. Day after day, he’s home. With me. That’s a whole lot of togetherness.

When he joined the Air Force in the early 1960s, he was diagnosed with “a bit of” scoliosis — curvature of the spine. And now, he has something else. Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine which causes nerve pain.

The Mayo Clinic website says the condition is commonly brought on by “wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to aging.” In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to make additional room for nerves or the spinal core.

My hubby’s back started causing him pain about six years ago; he gave up his beloved Wednesday golf game. Two years later, a doctor, also a golfer, recommended he play again because he likes the game so much.

Two years ago, on a cold and rainy Wednesday morning, my husband and son dug up shrubs in front of our house, carried them to the back, transplanted them and planted new greenery where the others had been. It was supposed to be a one-man operation with my spouse as supervisor only but he didn’t adhere to the plan.

When the work was done, my spouse came inside, announced he was going to take a shower, load his clubs in the car and head to the golf course. It was difficult to understand him because he was bent so far forward that he was talking into the pocket of his jeans and it sounded more like mumble-jumble.

A month later, he was in Rochester talking with a neurosurgeon who asked how far my husband could walk. My better half said at least a mile in the morning; plus all the walking he does at his job selling cars.

“Come back when you can’t walk a block,” the doctor said. “We’ll talk about your options.”

That day has come. He can barely walk from the bedroom to the kitchen. Work is out of the question. I made plans for us to have movie marathons. Never-ending days of Scrabble®. He can’t sit still, though. Partly, it’s the stenosis. Mostly, it’s him. “Fidgety,” the good nuns would have said.

All day long, his mind is going-going-going as he thinks of one thing after another we need at Target, the grocery store, any place to get him off home base. You see, driving doesn’t cause him any pain but he forgets that the pain returns as soon as he gets out of the car and starts walking.

He tried a cane but couldn’t get the hang of it. Shopping carts work, though, so he’s allowed short leaves to pick up a few items at stores where he can park next to the cart corral and grab a cart for stability.

A recent trip to the doctor’s office for a flu shot had us stymied. No carts. How could he make the long walk into the clinic and down the halls?

“Use one of my Nordic walking sticks,” I said. “It’s taller, the rubber tip is angled and there’s a strap to secure your hand.” I worried he would pooh-pooh the idea because it would look dumb but he didn’t. Proof positive he wants to be on the move.

A movie marathon, game day? What was I thinking?

“Retirement isn’t looking like a good idea,” I said to a friend last week. Laughing, the recently retired salesperson told me his wife and I could have a good conversation on that subject. I’ll have to give her a call.