I was at work one evening on the weekend recently(what else is new) and Dear Hubby texted me to let me know he was unwell.

No big deal. He is a strong man, resilient, normally well, and not a whinger/ hypochondriac.18 years of ‘US’ and he’s never interrupted me at work.

I texted him back asking for more info – ‘how bad, what sort of unwell, need anything?’

He replied “bad, abdo pain, ring me.”

So I did.

What happened next was, essentially, that I left work, went home, threw him in the car and drove him to emergency.

Questions around ambulances etc. were dealt with as after thoughts – I thought he was ringing an ambulance as I drove home, he thought I was going to call one when I got home. In the end I drove him, and thus begun the process of me being in my uniform from my main work place, sitting in another one of my workplaces, acting on behalf of my beloved as relative and carer, and vacillating between feeling calm and in control, to powerless and a bystander.

He was severe pain, and each time the results of an investigation came back, there was no answer as to why. The medications seemed to only buy him short and minor relief, and it was hard for my inner emergency nurse not to start wanting to take over. He had bloods taken, and ECG, a bag of fluids, lots of good pain relief, an ultrasound, xrays…. the works.

I was torn between wanting to be a ‘good’ relative – not get in the road, not be demanding, not be ‘that relative’, especially one in the health profession – they can be a pain in the arse and a hindrance, not a help, and wanting to intervene and to help care for DH as I watched busy staff do their best.

But mostly I just wanted to stand by DH and shoulder some of his burden, and there was no way I could. So, I stood or sat, holding a hand, rubbing his back, supporting him when the waves of pain came over him.

I acted as a conduit to the staff on duty for DH,and a shield from the shenanigans going on as a ‘weekend special’ came in and messily, noisily, sobbingly, loudly and splashily vomited repeatedly all over the floor in the bay next to us.

Once they had decided that they were unsure as to what it was, but it was likely not to be fatal, they sent him home in my care. He came home, and although the pain wasn’t gone, it had eased, so he managed to get some sleep.

The next morning, before returning back to work, it was GP appointments, ultrasounds, blood tests and more pain relief and management of DH, as we worked to get him better.

He is better now, and will have more tests in the future, but the pain has eased. My worry has eased too, but it has left a residue on my heart. A memory of being next to my best mate, and seeing him in pain, and me being helpless to do anything other than stand by him. Which, he said, was enough.

And that is often enough, isn’t it? Just stand by me.