I sort of knew this of myself. The recent operation on Mr. S.'s ankle, however, really brought it home. I am no Florence Nightingale.
Although to start with I didn't disappoint. Driving to Rotterdam at an ungodly hour, listing to the duty nurse, getting the crutches out of the car and installing Mr. S. in his hospital bed for the day: no problem. Leaving him behind, mooching around Rotterdam, treating myself to a luxurious cappuccino and some cake: easy peasy. Hoisting Mr. S. in the wheel chair and wheeling him through the hospital and the parking lot to the car: quite good fun actually.
It isn't until the next morning, that I realise I am a bit of an action hero when it comes to nursing someone back to health. I love the driving - carrying crutches - taping plastic bags around the wounded ankle - getting a stool in the shower - bit of nursing. I am less great at the endless cups of tea, coffee, sandwiches and other tidbits. I just forget.
Normally that isn't a problem. Even if I forget to eat myself, the children and Mr. S. won't starve, because they learned - years ago - that they live in a self service household. No matter when you enter the kitchen in our house, there is always someone making a peanut butter sandwich, or frying a couple of eggs. Dinner is the only more of less reliable service I provide.
I am even worse when it comes to listening sympathetically to stories about Mr.S's ailments. Shortly after the operation I am patience personified. Of course it hurts, someone just made two holes in his ankle and scraped a bit of bone off. That is why the nurse gave us a stash of painkillers. I provide a glass of water, Mr. S takes a pill and all is well with the world again.
Just as I start to grow in my role as carer, Mr. S. reverses back from being a patient, to being his plain old self again. He starts to walk on his wounded foot without crutches, wobbles over to the coffee machine umpty times a day, as no one makes coffee, like he does, and decides to give up on pain killers, as they can't be good for you.
He further demands to be driven to work, three days after his operation, as he is sick and tired of being cooped up in the house. So, I drive him to Amsterdam - again at an ungodly hour - before taking myself to work in Utrecht. When I call Mr. S. from the car on my way back from work, he picks up after the first ring. His ankle really hurts, he informs me. He even sounds genuinely surprised.
It would be great, if I could come straight away to pick him up, as he hasn't called for the taxi to come and pick him up, as we agreed he would do. As he wobbles towards the car, leaning heavily on a crutch, I really have to delve deep to try and find my inner Florence. 'I am really glad you told me to bring a crutch', he tells me lovingly before he reclines his seat and closes his eyes.
Mr. S. grudgingly agrees to stay home the next day, as long as we both agree it is just the one day, because really there isn't anything wrong with him. Right. As soon as I return home from work the next afternoon, he tells me proudly that he has been cycling. 'It is so much easier than walking'. He beams from ear to ear. From cycling it is only a matter of hours until he declares himself fit enough for driving.
Mr. S. has been back at work for a week now. He still wobbles, but does he let that stop him? You guessed right. He is a bit disappointed his ankle isn't healing more quickly and is sharing that disappointed liberally with his family. At which point, I really, really want to smack him. Not very Nigtingalelesque, I know.
Although when I see Mr. S. carefully putting a cushion under his hurting ankle and install himself - fizzy drinks and snacks handy - in front of the telly to watch a children's programme about dogs with the 11yo on a Saturday afternoon, I cannot help myself but salute him. He is does try to put his feet up. At least for now.
As we are still living 'happily ever after' and in all probability will grow old together, we'd better make a battle plan. A live in nurse, would be our best option, I think. Someone in an official white coat and in the possession of a very loud voice, who tells us when it is time for our medicine, or our nap. Someone with oodles of patience and enough authority to ensure complete submission. So we can concentrate on what we do best together: eat, drink and be merry.