The Greatest Gift

While working on the postings for My Unplanned Life, I combed through thousands of documents, including medical and legal reports and court documentation.  For five years, we kept binders of information pertaining to Dr. Liar, Disability and several for the Medical Malpractice lawsuit. I had not looked at the binders since our last day in court.  I asked my husband to put them in a place where I didn’t have to see them EVER. When we moved this past summer, I accidentally saw the enormous box.  I knew I had to face ‘it’ sooner rather than later.  When I did, I found helpful information for the blog along with notes to our attorney written by my husband.  We were asked to keep a diary.  Following is an entry written by my husband. Since we were in this situation as partners, I thought it important you read a few of his thoughts. 

“Overall, I have seen my wife go from a healthy, happy, “normal” person to someone who is uneasy, unsteady, unsure and depressed.  She constantly falls; almost daily and runs into doorways and furniture.  She had her eyes checked and I know her eyesight is fine, so there is nothing I can attribute these issues except her spinal cord injury.  She also has trouble finding the right words to use when talking – a problem she never had before. 

“She is not the same woman I met and married five years ago.  Although she still is a loving and caring woman with a heart of gold and treats those as she would like to be treated, she struggles daily with the mental, physical and emotional pain of the spinal cord injury. It is obvious it is taking a toll on her. 

“Since the surgery, I have to do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, housework, yard work and I drive her to doctor’s appointments, my step daughter to work and to the hospital where she volunteers.  I take care of the dogs, the birds and the fish pond.  I do most of the grocery shopping and accompany my wife when she needs to get out of the house.  I don’t mind doing these things and this is what I said I would do in my wedding vows. In sickness and in health, but I don’t think it’s fair that she and I had no control over the outcome of the surgery.  We used to go more places and do more things.  Sometimes I feel that we are just waiting for some type of cure or breakthrough treatment that will make her life the way it was. It’s hard to watch her struggle.  It’s hard to watch a person change so drastically. I want my wife to have her life back; I would like to have my wife back.” 

No one person has lived or taken their wedding vows more seriously than my husband. He has stuck by me in more bad times than good.  No matter how rough it got, he never complained, never asked for anything to be different or any do-over.  Always the perfect gentleman, he has watched me sink to the bottom and was there when I was ready to be pulled up.  He has cried for the wife whom he married and for the woman who got lost along the way. If he could take the pain away from me….he would. He asks for nothing. He gives everything. 

He has taken care of me as during all types of situations and handled every detail.  He has watched me suffer from pain, burn my stomach with the heating pad, fall while holding my hand, gain and lose weight, throw temper tantrums and cry when I felt sorry for myself.  He has cried with me quite often and cried for the things we both miss. He attended every appointment, court meeting, deposition and was my chauffeur for almost three years.

My husband has taught me more about how to love and give to another human being.  He is the most selfless person I have ever known and displayed this wonderful trait on a daily basis during our ordeal. His life wasn’t easy before me and certainly hasn’t been since my surgery. He has put up with a lot…more than one a person should.  While I questioned God’s decisions, he maintained his steadfast faith always reminding me that God had bigger plans. In fact, I know it was God who planned our two paths to cross later in life since we both had been married to other people and went through difficult experiences. We weren’t supposed to meet until we were older, and I feel all the rough roads prior to 2003 led me to him.

During this ordeal, my husband took on a part-time job to make additional money. He had a full-time job, which was an hour commute each way, worked part-time in a retail job, worked around the house, helped me with appointments and continued our efforts pertaining to the lawsuit. Even today, I am not sure why he didn’t walk away. A lesser man would have run. However, I know he didn’t consider that as an option.  He took care of me, his step daughter and his own daughters who lived an hour away. I don’t know how he did it, but he did and made it look easy on a daily basis.

We did most everything together following my injury.  Before we knew it, we attended our first deposition for the lawsuit.  It was a full day event, but was interesting watching the attorney’s work together and at the same time, against each other. It was during that first deposition where I began to question whether we made the right decision.  What had we gotten ourselves into?  It was an emotionally and physically draining experience and took me three days to recover. My husband took it all in stride just like he does with everything. We were partners through thick and thin.

Around this same time, we also went to Johns Hopkins and met with the neurologist who we had seen before and a neurosurgeon.  My tremor had gotten worse and I was having trouble with fine motor skills, not able to sit still or hold a cup or even feed myself without dropping most of it back on the plate or on my shirt.  In addition, my pain level was increasing and the balancing problems were not improving. This was the first appointment where doctors discussed the possibility of implanting a Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS). The stimulator sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain and has provided remarkable therapeutic benefits for otherwise treatment-resistant movement and affective disorders such as chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, tremor and dystonia.

The doctors felt I was a good candidate for the procedure; however, the thought of another surgery was frightening. I wasn’t sure I could put my husband and daughter through another stressful surgery.  My husband and I attended a seminar at a local hospital and listened to a presentation about the DBS and met with patients who had undergone the procedure. However, since it was so invasive, we decided I needed to heal mentally and physically prior to considering having this procedure done. It’s called ‘deep brain’ for a very good reason. Was I willing to be awake during a surgery where they go to the center of my brain and implant two devises?

Several months later, I participated in a four and a half hour neuro-psychiatrist exam organized by our attorney. My husband went with me, but was unable to be in the same room. In fact, he left to get me an iced tea, but couldn’t personally bring it into the room. The first half of the examination included a 500 question document about me, my thoughts and life (and several questions about my mental state). Another test was to determine my IQ. The last part was an interview by the neuro-psychiatrist.  He used testing cards, pictures, quizzes during the interview. It was one of the more interesting examinations I had experienced. I thought the doctor was professional, caring and was sympathetic to what we were going through.  He agreed to serve as an expert witness for our case.  

Weeks later we read the neuro-psychiatrist’s report, which didn’t include any surprises. He uncovered that I was greatly affected by the spinal cord injury and feel as if my life was taken away from me.  He reported my IQ and explained how the neurosurgeon’s lies and deception made my situation worse. The doctor added in his notes I was lucky to have a supportive husband.

During this time period, when asked how I feel about the past three years and the injury, I could honestly say I felt as if I have stepped into someone else’s life.  There were so many things I was unable to do; however, I had someone to share my life with who loved me no matter what. I loved to ride my bike and walk my dogs.  My husband and I enjoyed going to concerts, shopping for antiques, and a dozen other activities. These were the things that were taken away; however, I had a husband who I knew would move mountains for me and did on a daily basis. How many of us know how much we are loved during our lifetime?  My husband turned himself inside out because what had happened to me. No one else could possibly understand what I was going through except my husband and he proved he was going to be there no matter what. My therapist asked me to make a list of positive things that had occurred since my injury. Guess who was at the top of the list?

©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com, 2011.

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About mswd

I am an individual living with a spinal cord injury. How the injury occurred, how I found out how severe my injury was and how my planned life suddenly became 'unplanned' is included in this blog. Also included is how the injury has tested my family and me. I believe you will discover it has been both a mentally and physically challenging ordeal and I learned a few lessons along the way. While I am still defining my life’s purpose since the injury, I have uncovered those who are injured, live with pain or have other obstacles to navigate are never able to escape. However, come with me as I explore ways to improve my life, learn to live with multiple neurological conditions, educate others and look for the silver lining. I believe with a little willpower, my caring family and God's guidance I will learn to forgive, hopefully forget how I was treated and dismissed by a doctor and uncover life's new purpose. I pray for painfree days and answers to questions that keep swirling through my mind. I also pray for a cure for neurological conditions and for the doctors to treat their patients with respect. Welcome to my journey. I would love to hear about yours!
This entry was posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Disability, Employer and disability, Pain, Self Discovery, Spinal Cord Injury and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Greatest Gift

  1. kelly says:

    OH! One of these days I ‘d like to meet your husband! It’s so wonderful he’s so….wonderfully verbal, emotionally present and actively wonderful!

    • mswd says:

      Kelly ~ he is all of those things and….A PHILLIES fan! 🙂 Doesn’t get much better than that! Thank you so much for your kind words! XO

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