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What Makes a Good Wife

When her husband got sick, this writer could no longer be the reluctant caregiver

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  • One January, when my husband, also a writer, was teaching in Vermont, we decided to climb an ice-covered mountain in city footwear, and he slipped and dislocated his shoulder. In the accident's immediate aftermath, I was his tireless advocate—I battled his work liaison, a woman who announced that she "didn't use Western doctors" and clearly didn't want us to either, and took him to an ER, where I procured excellent Western painkillers for him. But once his arm was in a sling and his prescription filled, I punched out. I was done and thought he should be done too.

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    In his version of this story, I "made" him drive his stick-shift Toyota home on slick back roads with the use of only his left hand. (I probably did do this.) Two weeks later, packing for a trip to Paris, when he moped about the fashion inconvenience of wearing a sling, I snapped. Get over it. That spring, when we were hiking the Adirondacks, he balked at climbing a nontechnical rock face, because his shoulder, though mostly healed, still dangerously compromised his sense of balance. We took an easier trail. I fumed all the way to the summit, where he finally confronted me: You're mad because I hurt myself, and I don't want to risk hurting myself further?

What Makes a Good Wife
When her husband got sick, this writer could no longer be the reluctant caregiver
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