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I fear my husband’s surgery will trigger his pain pill addiction

3:45 a.m. That’s what time our alarm went off this morning to head to the hospital. It’s time for another surgery, so that means more pills.

More: How I accepted that my love couldn’t save my husband from addiction

My husband fought long and hard to beat his pain-pill addiction. The desire for pain pills went away, unfortunately the pain did not. The team of doctors we have treating my husband have been cautious about treating his pain, though they stress the importance of treating it. Completely going without pain meds made my husband miserable — no sleep, tossing and turning. Well, that made me miserable — and cranky, very cranky.

We had to deal with the shoulder pain. Years of football, track and weightlifting took quite a toll on my husband’s body. We began dating when I was just 23 and he was 42. One year later, my husband had his first hip replaced. When the surgeon came to the waiting room to tell me how the surgery went, he told me, “Pieces of his bone fell into my hands when we opened him up. You need to prepare yourself for many more surgeries to come. His body has taken a beating with all the sports.”

Little did I know how accurate that surgeon was with his warning that there would be many more surgeries to come.

This is where I make my personal disclaimer and plea to mothers of sons. Instead of cowboys, mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be football players. In our almost 19 years together, my husband has had two hip replacements, a back surgery for two ruptured discs, two shoulder debridement surgeries, an elbow surgery, a hand surgery, carpal tunnel release surgery on both wrists and now a shoulder replacement.

Most of these were scheduled when we could not get around them… but not the back surgery. That was from a freak accident, and he went from the doctor’s office to the MRI, and from the MRI, they immediately put my husband on a golf cart and took him to the emergency room, where surgery was scheduled. As a foodie, the terrible thing about that one was everyone kept explaining to us, “Your back is like a doughnut, and the discs are like the jelly inside the doughnut. Someone came along and smashed that doughnut, and jelly shot out from both sides.”

Imagine how badly I wanted a doughnut while he was in the hospital.

More: How God’s grace helped me through my husband’s addiction

Now, as I sit in the hospital waiting room while my husband is having his shoulder replaced, I want a glass of wine. Since it’s 8:22 a.m., I’ll stick with the mango protein drink I brought from home. While we’re on the subject of it being early, why do surgeries have to start so early? Our alarm went off at 3:45, but we hadn’t really slept. I guess it was partly nerves and partly that we were afraid we would be late. We weren’t late. We were to arrive between 5 and 5:30 a.m., and when we did, we registered then waited.

And waited.

When our buzzer lit up and vibrated, we took it to the counter, where a nurse was prepared to take my husband to surgery. I handed her our buzzer and asked, “Could we please have a table with an ocean view?” Bless her heart, I don’t think many people joke with her that early in the morning, because she laughed pretty hard.

She replied, “Yes, but only if I can sit there with you.”

My husband is not a malingerer. He is an athlete, and he has worked out since before I was born. Both of us have always believed in a healthy lifestyle, exercising and eating healthy. Somewhere along the way, the addiction to pain meds took over the healthy track my husband was on both physically and mentally. I have written about our journey over the years and how it was only God’s grace that kept us married.

Humor had to play a role, too. If I didn’t laugh, I would cry all the time. Our marriage counselor, Bob, told me once, “Keep laughing. Laughing seems to be the glue that holds you together.” So I laugh.

And I cry a lot.

I believe everything in moderation is pretty good for you, like chocolate and cheese. Unless you’re a vegan, and of course then you won’t eat either of those. So I believe in everything in moderation, including a good cry, a glass of wine and a nice deep laugh.

I think God knows how much I love — and need — humor.

A man just came into the waiting room and announced, “I bring the champagne.”

Voices in the middle of quiet, hushed conversations all stopped, and those of us who were alone and working, reading or writing looked up. The man, who had a thick accent, looked at everyone and said, “My apology. I am on the phone, and I bring my mother, whose name is Champagne. Sorry to disappoint.”

I mean, seriously. You cannot make this stuff up.

We have just been moved to his room. I am already praying this surgery will not reignite the desire for pills. His doctor is fully aware of his past struggles with addiction but said he cannot survive this surgery without treating the pain.

Here we go again. This time, I’m praying we handle it better.

More: How I used Robin Williams’ death to talk to my teen about depression

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