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When I was young, I couldn’t handle the sight of blood. It didn’t matter if it was a movie, TV show, or in real life, I got woozy when the red stuff would appear. Mom and Dad used to joke that there went my chances of being a doctor, despite my stereotypically horrible handwriting.

While taking my coaching classes in college, I discovered something – that nausea was gone! You learn pretty quickly when you watch a video of a knee scope whether or not you can handle some of that. In addition, I encountered some pretty bloody scenes in my first aid class and knew I had gotten over the blood problem.

As a coach for 20 years now, I’ve had to deal with blood, sprains, breaks, concussions, and other medical difficulties. I always find myself in a state of calm, counting on my training to handle the situation the correct way. I even helped a young man who passed out at a Twins game a few years ago and face-planted into the seats. It was a mess, but, along with another man, we stabilized him until help could come.

However, I’ve discovered that my nausea does return in particular situations, those involving my family. Any time the kids are really sick, I struggle mentally to see them hurting. When Jayna broke her arm, I panicked and didn’t go through my normal routine that I would, forgetting even to put ice on it to reduce the swelling. When Anton had severe stomach pain, it was a long, long time to wait at home with Jayna while Michelle brought him in to the emergency room late at night.

It gets even worse when something is wrong with Michelle. I sat and thought about why it’s even worse with my wife compared to my kids. The only thing I can think of is that we are such a team and so compatible, that it’s like a part of myself is hurt if she is. When she underwent an emergency c-section to birth Anton, I was ready to tip over at any moment, but had to stand there at her side and try to stay strong.

A number of years back, she was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was a mess. She handled it much better than I did. The wave of euphoria when we saw a neurologist who told us it was a mistake was immeasurable. I looked back and was ashamed at how weak I had been.

And now we face another medical problem, one which has put me on my pins again, even if Michelle is handling it like a pro. We were trimming up the landscaping, and while squatting down and shifting to another plant, she felt a snap in her knee and was immediately in excruciating pain. After a prolonged medical process, we found out she tore her lateral meniscus and will need surgery. Meanwhile, she’s been relegated to the couch most of the time because of the pain and inability to put any weight on that leg.

Again, when it first happened, I couldn’t sink into that calm that I can with others. Heck, I can even enter that stage with myself. In college, I broke my elbow while playing basketball and took all the right steps to deal with it. No sooner did I finish recovery than I severely sprained my ankle playing basketball (You’d think I might have stayed off a court longer!) and knew exactly what to do. But when it comes to Michelle, I lose my mind.

This is all part of my wedding vows. The “in sickness and in health” part seems like an easy vow to say, but it’s not easy to see anybody you love in that much pain. I think of friends I know in our area dealing with much more severe medical issues than what we have and hope I have the same strength that I know they all do if we ever face some of those. God willing, we won’t, but if they come up, perhaps these incidents over the past years are a way of building up my ability to deal.

I know one thing: I will not run away when the going gets tough. Michelle and I have had some amazing years together, and we get stronger every hour of every day. When you have a strong relationship, even a severe knee injury is but a twinge in the big picture.

Word of the Week: This week’s word is pisher, which means a young, inexperienced person, as in, “He felt like such a pisher when all his medical training disappeared at the first sign of a problem.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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