My handyman is in the dirt—whatever will I do?

My husband has two switches in his head–on and off! I have never been able to locate a neutral button.

Jay is easily one of the hardest working people God ever created, although I’m not sure he was born to this role—in fact, his response to those who ask him how he continues to keep going at such a pace is to reference how early in his life he started working, thus attributing stamina to years of practice. I suspect there may also be a little stubborn compulsivity attached to his overdrive. I know he gets kind of a charge running rings around almost everyone, including those much younger and much less handy.

I, too, am a reasonably productive and hardworking individual, but compared to Jay I’m a slacker. I learned a long, long time ago that I would collapse if I tried to keep pace, so I just give him tons of credit and lots of room to roam! I frequently remind him that although he thinks he is invincible, I am reasonably certain he is in danger of self-combustion.

Occupationally, Jay is a switchman for the Union Pacific Railroad. Retirement? What? When he can play  with trains? He says no.

But there’s been a slight change in status.

My grandfather was also a railroad man, so I grew up knowing that the cupola on a caboose is called a crow’s nest, eating lunch is going to beans and a derail is on the ground or in the dirt. Well, Jay is in the dirt–at least temporarily.

He is home recovering from hand surgery. Overuse or repetitive stress—he is in a very physical industry—contributed to a large cyst-like growth on the palm of his hand.  Pain meds, lots of stitches, a large bandage and a stern warning from his surgeon to take it easy is anchoring this handyman HOME for a few weeks. Yikes!

I suggested he consider “practicing retirement,” but the look he gave me was a little sad and slightly concerned that I was formulating a subversive plot behind his back.

Living with an overachiever I have become accustomed to a lot of room for my own independent schedule.  He is a bit too busy himself to worry about what I’m up to. If I want to stay up until all hours of the night  (or early morning) reading posts or getting caught up on my own blog maintenance, I can usually sneak it in! Now I have to wonder. How will he feel about my on-line addiction? Will I have to “come clean?”

He certainly has a lot of adjusting to do, and I guess I’m also going to do some recalibrating over the next few weeks!  I came home from my yoga class and followed the sound of laughter into the den. There he sat, laughing uproariously at the antics of an old Seinfeld episode. Other than sports, Jay has never really watched prime time television, but has now discovered the sitcom. I suppose there may be some health benefits from all the laughter…but a fifteen-year old sitcom re-run? I didn’t anticipate this!

I’m really not sure what the next few weeks are going to look like. I may be doing a little more laughing myself. Or we may be tripping over one another. I suspect it will be a little of both! So if I lag behind in my reading and posting, just picture us home in the evenings with Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine!  I fear there may be hundreds of these episodes!

…Nurse Debra

55 thoughts on “My handyman is in the dirt—whatever will I do?

  1. I’m glad to hear that his impairment is only temporary and both of you seem to be surviving the ordeal with your sense of humor intact. Now don’t you worry about us, for I think you’ll find us to be a patient lot. So, hang in there, Debra!

    By the way, if Seinfeld is a bit dated for you, have you considered switching to “Curb Your Enthusiasm”? Just a thought … 🙂

    1. I have watched at least a few seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, John! We don’t have Showtime, but the episodes have been available from other sources and I love Larry David’s sense of humor. Truth is, I even enjoy the Seinfeld episodes…but that’s the problem. I can’t tune them out! 🙂 I jsut laughed and laughed the other day when Jay said, “This show is about nothing.” He didn’t even know how funny his comment was! Have a great week! Debra

  2. I always have to recalibrate for the school holidays- much as I love my nearest and dearest, it takes a while to adjust to them always being here! Enjoy the adjustment 🙂
    Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Jay.

    1. Thanks, Fiona! We’re going to be fine…but it is a different rhythm. Fortunately he is a very easy patient! The only conflict I have is trying to keep him from being overly active! So funny! Debra

    1. Oh that’s so funny, Kate! I think it will be an interesting experiment to see what he chooses to watch. It’s like he’s been in a time warp. Think of all the cultural references he has never understood! Debra

        1. This is so great, Frank! Thank you. I will share it with him…he’s gone to bed with a pain pill, thus I have a few minutes. LOL! I made it through a night with the basketball game on. Ha! This was a thoughtful youtube offering…he’ll enjoy it! Debra

    1. That’s right! If the tv has to be on, I can always laugh along with Seinfeld. The humor to me is that he has never watched it…and it so amuses him. He has never understood some of the humor the rest of the family pulls out sometimes…Festivus, the Soup Nazi…he’s been clueless! Now he is catching up. The time off will be productive, won’t it? He will heal quickly, I am sure, and he never complains! Hope you have a good week! Debra

    1. Oh yeah, Jen. This isn’t all about me, is it? Ha! Thank you…fortunately it is his non-dominant hand. He is greatly inconvenienced, but he never complains. I just hope he gets some rest and decides that’s a nice feeling! 🙂 Happy Monday! Debra

  3. Seinfeld is one of the funniest sitcoms ever . . . good choice on hubby’s part. Laughter IS the best medicine.

    Loved this: Now I have to wonder. How will he feel about my on-line addiction? Will I have to “come clean?”

    I expect that you are not alone in concealing your “on-line addiction” from full view. 😉

    1. I have to admit that I don’t ever really mind a Seinfeld re-run. They are in a category all of their own. I think I will just have to go with the flow–and I really do feel sorry for him. He hurts! It’s just a very different energy–or lack of it? Debra

    1. My grandfather was a brakeman/conductor, too, Lori. When Jay hired out he was a brakeman, too, and was gone quite a bit. He stopped being on the road when the children were young and has been a switchman for probably close to 30 years. The railroad is a culture all of its own, which you probably really understand–the lingo and terms are really funny, aren’t they? I find that they’ve crept into my own vocabulary and I use them sometimes completely forgetting that others might not know what they mean. I’m glad it meant something to you 🙂 Debra

  4. My Grandpa worked for the railroad too! He worked out of Vancouver, WA but retired in 1980. He’s still alive, he dances three times a week and love playing computer solitaire. LOL Maybe Jay can take up dancing and solitaire 😉 Seriously though, hoping for a fast recovery for both of you. If you’re into trying some herbs, or he is… comfrey is an amazing healing herb. 🙂 Hugs!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion of comfrey, Corri. That’s something I would definitely offer him! Railroaders are a different breed, aren’t they? They tend to be hardy! Your grandfather sounds like a wonderfully active and engaging man. How wonderful that he remains so vital, and I hope you are able to spend time with him! Thanks for well wishes…He will indeed heal quickly, I’m sure, and get back to the routines he enjoys! Debra

  5. What is wonderful is that he has already found something he enjoys while he is sidelined — if he keeps that up you will both have an easy time while his hand heals. Good luck to you both!

    1. Thank you, Sharyn. Today was a difficult day for him, but it’s only three days post surgery. I think the healing can be the hardest part. He’s so used to being active that he isn’t handling rest too well…but I have to keep reassuring him that rest is indeed a good thing, not a punishment. Ha! Tonight I would have enjoyed Seinfeld…it was a basketball night. When he feels just a little better I think we’ll find a little more balance. 🙂 Debra

  6. Diane


    This post made me laugh! The pop cultures references Larry has created. Once I was at a new deli (for me) ordering a sandwich and after I ordered I added something to my order to the woman behind the counter who had not written anything down. Her response made it clear that I had already ordered and this was not OK. A man my age was standing next to me and we looked at each other and started laughing as we said at the same time ‘soup nazi’!!

    I am sending warm wishes for his complete recovery and may it be quick! Laughter really is good medicine. We will miss you in yoga. But you’ll be back ASAP and Jay will be happily back on board.


    1. What a funny story, Diane! The cultural references will always be a part of our lives! I am getting such a kick out of how Jay really does not know the episodes at all…he is truly seeing them for the first time, and I think I not only laugh at the show, but laugh with him in his enthusiasm. The first time he said, “This show is about nothing,” I just about lost it! Yes–that’s Seinfeld! We’ll be back into a groove soon and I’ll be back to class…I miss it terribly! Thanks, Diane. Debra

      1. Diane


        “This is about nothing” is hilarious! Re-watching episodes through new eyes would be a lot of fun. I hope Jay is healing and his recovery is right on track (again an unintended pun:). We miss you and will be glad when your smiling and always positive presence is back with us. Namaste, Diane

  7. I hope his hand heals well and quickly. But giving him enough time to catch up on all the Seinfeldisms, of course. There are hundreds of them! But laughter is good for healing. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rita. Yes, I am enjoying them with him…they are very distracting to me, though. I can’t say that I can tune them out…they are still funny! He had a rough day today, but it’s only been three days. I’m sure within a couple of days he’ll be feeling much better. 🙂 Debra

  8. Change throws the most unusual things at us, and our reactions are certainly in the mix! While I hope for a speedy recovery I’m also looking forward to reading your posts and where we all might end up!

    1. Thank you, Claire! He is getting by without too much difficulty and I am adjusting to the sounds of the television! LOL! I’m reading posts tonight to the noisy tones of a baseball game! Thank you to all you bloggers for keeping me entertained! 🙂 Debra

  9. Ah, yes. . . we’ve experienced these times. The worst was when Tom was relegated to the couch for six weeks when he broke some ribs. Ouch. George and Elaine kept him company, as did The Blues Brothers, though laughing often made matters worse.

    See if you can get a friend of Jay’s, a co-worker, the kid down the street to come visit for an hour or so soon. You can run to store, get your nails done, whatever. Those breaks help both patient and care-giver.

    Here’s to a speedy recovery for Jay and back to routine for you soon, Debra.

    1. We are already getting a new rhythm, Penny, although it’s to the strains of evening television. Most of my workdays I really don’t have the time for much tv. I record most of what I want to watch and can get to it later and not disrupt my evenings. I’m sitting here tonight with the Dodger/Angel game cranked up nice and loud. Working around trains hasn’t helped the hearing either! But I’m behaving myself…the poor guy really does hurt! And it certainly isn’t a fun time for him. Fortunately he doesn’t need my all-day supervision! 🙂 Debra

  10. LOL I know exactly who you’re married to, because I’m married to another version of Jay! I hope his hand heals well and quicker than expected. Maybe this little “retirement training session” will bring about a renewed togetherness for you two (albeit in front of sitcom reruns) LOL! 🙂

  11. Poor Jay and poor Debra too. Active, outdoors people don’t adapt easily to a sedentary life, even if it’s only temporary, so I’m glad Seinfeld is helping him out. I’m glad for you to that Jay is an easy patient, unlike my DH who just won’t do what he’s told when he’s ill. Wishing Jay a speedy recovery, before you have to show him just how addicted you are. 😉

    1. Maybe being a little laid up and inconvenienced can give us a little perspective on what others go through…and then remind us to also take care of ourselves! I think so far he’s being a good patient, although he is probably still using his hand a little more than he should. But most of that is just reflex! I do think he’s getting the idea that I spend a lot of time enjoying friends in the blogosphere. At least he isn’t critical! 🙂 Debra

  12. You and MTM can commiserate, Debra, because he is in Nurse MTM mode with me right now. I am sorry to hear about Jay’s hand, but at least what was done will help him, I hope. It’s hard to be idle when we aren’t hardwired to be. I know exactly how he feels. And, Seinfeld is the cure for just about anything. One of my favorite shows of all time.

    1. Fortunately I do like Seinfeld…not necessarily when I am trying to do other things, but…Hope you’re doing better, too. I hope you’re a good patient 🙂 Jay isn’t in much pain tonight, so that’s a step forward! Debra

    1. Thank you, Kate, for the kind words. I have to just laugh at Phil’s reaction to working with trains. You wouldn’t believe how often we hear this, and each time I just laugh. Having never been a little boy, I guess I just don’t get it! We have doctor an attorney friends..wonderfully successful professionals, and they turn into little boys all excited when talking trains. My own physician can’t stop talking about his love and interest in the rail industry when I go in for my checkup! He talks timetables, routes, anything really. All little boys, aren’t they? 🙂 Debra

  13. I hope Jay recovers quickly and that you are able to enjoy your Easter. Seinfeld is wonderful. I’m sure I’ve seen every episode at least a dozen times but I can never tire of it. Happy Easter xx

    1. Thank you so much for the Easter wishes. I hope the same for you! Jay is already doing better, and we’ve added baseball to our tv lineup– (oh goody!) ha! We sit in the same room in the evening and I am on the computer, and he has his television. We have our new groove 🙂 Debra

  14. Hi Deb– Many healing energies and prayers for JJ and all around him 🙂 ! Show JJ the youtubes of the model train building community-and who knows! I have to laugh how our lives intertwine. My father started out as a “Wichita Lineman” and 37 years later retired from the Railroad! Maybe Jay would like to visit the Railroad Museum in San Dimas- lots of things to look at there. I hope he is having a less-pain day, and that he stays clueless about your addictions! ❤ 😉

    1. I forgot about your father and the railroad. I think we talked about that once, Beth 🙂 Jay is doing much better…it’s not even a week yet since his surgery, so I think he’s done reasonably well overall. He does have his backyard railroad to keep him company, so maybe when he gets to feeling better. He’s very specific in the areas that interest him…and I’m not sure what that is! I think he’s already figured out about my addiction, so I just remind him that it is better than retail therapy! Tee-hee! D

  15. I didn’t think there was anyone how had not seen Seinfeld. My husband can wait an episode that he has seen at least a half dozen times and still laugh like crazy. Hope your husband mends soon. My husband has the same growth but would never have surgery.

    1. I think the brilliance of Seinfeld is that the humor holds up–I think it will be like I Love Lucy and never completely disappear! Jay put off the surgery as long as he could, but it was beginning to grow a little faster. The problem with postponing the surgery is that when it finally must be removed, the surgery is more invasive and more nerves are affected. If he had taken care of it two years ago, he might not have needed such a long recuperative time! Men seem to be better at putting things like this off…but i’m not sure that was a good decision 🙂 Happy Easter, Karen. Debra

  16. It sounds like this might be a good eye opener. That there is more to life than whatever one already has gotten stuck to. And some laughter from old sitcoms surely isn’t the worst to discover. The interesting part is of course how this will effect yourself – and whether you will have to come clean or not as you put it yourself. When you are used to a fair amount of independence in a relationship, it’s hard suddenly to have give up some of that. I know because I do appreciate the independence I have in my relationship. It’s hard to see that go away.

    1. I really appreciate your comment, Otto. I think you really understood some of my underlying tension! I was making light of it, but in truth, these very simple adjustments in our lives are harbingers of what is definitely to come. I am entirely too comfortable with my own very personal routines, and part of being a well-adjusted person is cultivating the flexibility to incorporate new rhythms and acceptance of life’s stages. Believe me, I’ve been doing a lot of self-talk…and even more “listening” to what I may need to hear. I appreciate your insight! It was validating to me. Debra

  17. I had no idea that working as a switchman was such “a physical industry that workers would get large cyst-like growth on the palms of their hands from overuse.” I hope your husband recovers quickly – Seinfeld sounds like the perfect prescription.

    1. Yes, Rosie, for all the remote control and automated improvements that my husband has seen develop in the railroad industry over the years, there are still some segments of the work that are not much different from the 19th century! He is doing well…in fact, he’s probably overdoing it! I hope you have a great week! Debra

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