Seven years ago, my wife, Tina Su Cooper, was released from our hospital’s Critical Care Unit (CCU) to go to a hospice for her last few months of life or to be cared for in our home. She had nearly died from systemic infections and pneumonia, precipitated by a multiple sclerosis exacerbation that had left her quadriplegic, on a ventilator, receiving all her nutrition and medications through a gastric tube. During her one-hundred-day battle in the CCU, Tina had acquired new infections from other patients and was no longer safe there. Home or hospice? She and I chose to fight for her life, at home.
We re-created the equipment and the staffing and procedures of the hospital’s CCU. We renamed ours the “Tina-Loving Care (TLC) Unit.” Primarily through my IBM retiree’s medical coverage, we have had around-the-clock skilled nursing care. I manage the nursing staff and even served as the over-night “nurse” our first full year, as that shift was not initially covered. Through it all, my wife has been heroic. In tribute to her I wrote Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. The book tells our love story, how we handle her care at home, and what our friends, family, and staff have so admired about Tina.
Tina and I thank God we are alive: family, friends, staff, neighbors. Thanks to our parents for creating us, for caring for us. Thanks to our doctors and nursing staff. Thanks to all who enriched our lives. Thanks to those responsible for the incredible technologies that have gone into our daily living. Thank you, one and all.
We are thankful to God, for His creation, for the daily miracle of our existence. I do not understand Him, do not understand His universe, His purposes, nor why we have been so lucky and others at least as worthy have been more unfortunate. Why is there something rather than nothing? I do not know, but I am grateful there is.
Especially, I am thankful for Tina. It feels good to be loved. It feels even better to be in love with someone. Better yet is to be in love with someone who loves you. Best of all is to love and be loved by someone truly worthy of love– for twenty-seven years.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and a retired physicist, author of Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. Their web site is http://tingandi.com, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org .