How My Wife Saved My Life

My wife Debbie and granddaughter Jade

Badger-She thinks she’s a pitbull!

On Oct.14,2010, I had my second heart attack. My artery was 99% clogged. After being rushed to the hospital, I was taken into surgery where the doctor put another stint in my artery. After being released, I recuperated for two weeks before returning to work. After going back to work, I just didn’t feel right. I kept getting sicker and sicker. I would vomit and get severe pain in my abdominal area. I went to the doctor, who ordered an MRI, and that’s when they found the tumor on my pancreas. That was definitely not what I wanted to hear, and my wife,(who is a nurse), turned pale.

I was referred to an Oncologist to determine what could be done and how to deal with the tumor. This Oncologist referred me to another who referred me to another. The fourth doctor told me that he was referring me to a specialist at Emory in Atlanta,Ga. and that he would do surgery on me to remove the pesky tumor. Well, we borrowed the money to go down to Atlanta so I could get the surgery. We went to Emory and proceeded to fill out the registration forms. Before we could finish with the paperwork, we were called back to a room and met with the surgeon and his assistants, at which time I gave him my medical records. My wife was continuing to fill out my registration paperwork. The surgeon told us that he was going to take a look at my records and would be back to us shortly. After being gone for what seemed like an eternity, he returned and calmly told us that there was nothing he could do because of the condition of my heart,said he was sorry and left. My wife never stopped writing. I told her not to bother, but she replied “I’ve got to get this filled out.” I told her that they couldn’t do anything for me and that we needed to go. She laid the forms on the bed and we left.

On the way back to our room, we never spoke. We just drove. When we got back to the motel, we were walking to our room and my wife started crying. There was a bench nearby so we sat down where she kept crying. My heart was breaking for her. I can honestly say that I was pretty scared myself. It’s not every day you get told that you’re dying. After a time, we went to our room to get ready for our trip back home the next day. At some point, something clicked in my wife’s head and she got mad! She informed me that “I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose you. When we get back home, I’ll find a surgeon! I’m a nurse and I WILL find one to do the surgery!”  I wasn’t about to argue.

When we returned home, my wife got right to work looking. In the meantime, my health kept deteriorating and I stopped being able to eat. Everything I tried to eat came right back up. I started turning gray and losing weight. It got to the point that couldn’t get out of bed without help. I lost 50 pounds. My wife never wavered. She would get me up to use the restroom and put me in the tub to give me my baths. Her Love and devotion is still humbling to this day. She never stopped looking for a surgeon and never stopped praying.

Well, in April 2011, she found an Oncologist, Dr. Charles Portera, Jr., who agreed to look at my case. By this time, I hadn’t eaten in about a month. He came into my hospital room with another doctor and told me that my nutritional level was a 2. That’s not good. He informed me that I needed a feeding tube inserted to bring my level up. My wife and I had talked about this before and had agreed that I wouldn’t have this done. She now informed me that, yes, I would have a tube in. The next day, They inserted the feeding tube.

For the next three months, my wife kept my feeding tube running, filling it at all hours of the day and night,while at the same time trying to work. The financial burden was enormous. We lost everything. She never wavered. She just kept praying.

Finally, in August 2011, Dr. Portera told me that it was time to have surgery. So, on Aug.10, 2011 We went to the hospital at 4:00 am and got signed in. I was my normal self, in a whole lot of pain, and my wife was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. We were previously told that there were no guarantees that the surgery would work or that I would even survive it. I was taken to the surgery prep area where they gave me some REALLY good pain medicine and I don’t remember anything about going into surgery. All I do know is that before that, I was always in so much pain that it didn’t matter anymore what happened to me. I just wanted the pain to stop. When I was being taken to the surgery room, my wife was able to see me before they took me back. She says that that’s the first time she had seen me without being in severe pain in months. Later, I was told that when they wheeled me away, she broke down and sobbed. Dr. Portera sat down with her and told that he would do everything he could for me. When he opened me up, he found the tumor had attached itself to my artery going to my heart. They had to take out half of my stomach, half my pancreas, half my liver, a section of my small intestine and my gall bladder. He later told my wife it was the biggest mess he’d had ever seen.(I never do anything halfway!)

At 10:00 that night, she was able to come in and see me for the first time since surgery. I don’t remember, since I was still under asleep from surgery. She stayed with me the whole time. The first week or so in recovery, I don’t recall, but  I was told that my wife would come in, stay the night with me and get up and go to work the next day. I guess the highlight of my 3 weeks in post-op was when I threw up on a nurse. It wound up being humiliating because they had to strip me and wash me. But my wife said that after all I had been through, that was nothing, because they had already seen me in all my glory. That helped!

When I finally got to go home, I still had tubes coming out of my abdominal area. It would be weeks before I could have them removed. My wife never left my side. After being home for a week, and still in bed, my wife brought a puppy home. She told me that it could keep me company while she was at work and the grandkids were at school. It was a min pin mix. That dog, her name is Badger, stayed in that bed with me the whole time I was recuperating. Now, she won’t leave my side. I finally got the tubes removed and continued to recover.

I have since had to go on disability and we lost everything we owned. I have vowed that somehow, I will make it up to my wife for all that she went through and all that we lost. I am now trying to learn to program on the computer. Though it’s hard to do, especially when I don’t have someone to teach me, I am going to learn to do it so I can make it up to my wife. I will give her a house again, and I will get off disability because I was raised that a man’s job was to provide for his family, and I’m not doing a very good job of it right now.

Don’t you wish you had a wife like mine?

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