That morning I was awakened by the sound of my husbands frantic cries for help. I ran from my office, into the bedroom. and found him laying on the bed. He had lost all bowel and bladder control and was losing sensation in his legs. I rang for an ambulance and he was taken to hospital. It was immediately apparent to the doctors that there were no surgeons on staff qualified to perform the surgery he was going to need. I made one phone call to family and less than an hour later, my husband was life flighted to a hospital in the States. I could not go with him as I had the children to care for. By the time he arrived at hospital stateside, his mother and his sister were there waiting for him.
A team of five surgeons were assembled in the operating theatre to perform spinal surgery. The spinal cord itself was in danger of being severed or damaged permanantly. Ten hours later I recieved a phone call telling me that my husband had come through surgery and would be able to walk. The spinal cord was intact, but due to the nature of the initial injury that caused the compression, he has lost the ability to do most of the things we all take for granted. He is, and always will be in constant pain. This is why we are all stateside right now. Because his condition is still in a state of flux, we cannot be far from his surgical team and are living in a small rural town less than an hours drive from hospital.
Since then I have taken hundreds of photos of him, trying to capture the essence of what he has endured. The loss, the pain, the fear and the anger that he is experiencing show themselves on the face I know so well.
Some of you in Twitterland know what he looked like before the surgery. This photo was taken in August. My husband is 6' 5", he used to weigh 250 pounds. All of that was solid muscle. His muscles were not due to working out, they were due to working. His work days began at sunup and did not end until around 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. This man was not made for sitting around being idle, and the life he has now is not acceptable.
This photo was taken last night. All that beautiful hair is now gone and his weight is down to 190 pounds. His hair began falling out in irregular patches in September. The doctor of internal medicine that is assigned to his case said that this was due to extreme stress. So my husband went ahead and shaved what remained of his hair. The weight loss is due to the drastic decrease in muscle mass.
The toll that this has taken on our family is enormous.
This is our daughter. When we have lived in the States before, it has been due to my work with univiersities. And in a university town, she blended in. Her personality, her temperment and her way of thinking are Irish not American. There are no Irish here and no foreigners of any kind. She and I do not belong here. And the people here will never accept us. Living in the States has become almost intolerable for her and me. (We have an adopted American son and I will do a seperate post about him at a later date).
Things are going to improve. In June we are going to Galway where I hope to finalize the purchase of a new home. My family is not from Galway, but are from County Cork. But Galway has always been my hearts desire, and I intend to live out the remainder of my days there so my sisters can just bugger off about it. I won't be changing my mind.
A sad face is not what my family shows to the world. Despite all of these difficulties we strive to rise above it and refuse to be defined by this hardship. We will not be defeated by it. We will endure, we will go on and we will be better because of it.
At the moment I have very little time to tweet. My family needs me to be present in the here and now. I miss all of you in Twitterland and thank you all for your support over the last couple of months There is one person in Twitterland who knows all of this, who has been consistantly there for me and who has brightened so many a dreary day. If you're down there Steve, wake up sleepy head I miss you.