Tina has a career, marriage, children, under the thumb of a dominating Chinese American husband. Birth of her second son induces a temporary partial paralysis, diagnosed as due to multiple sclerosis, an incurable auto-immune disorder, often leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, sometimes premature death.
Doug has a career as a scientist, a marriage and a divorce, when he finds his rich American wife has had an affair with her flying instructor. Dating afterwards highlights the inadequacies of these women in comparison with Tina, whom he has never forgotten.
On a business trip through Chicago, where she lives, he calls her, tells her he still loves her. She replies that she still loves him, “Nothing has changed for me in twenty years.” She tells him about her MS, having minimal symptoms then, but quite possibly disabling in the future. Doug ponders this, then asks her to marry him, and she replies, “Yes, yes, yes.”
Tina’s divorce estranges her from her elder son, Ted, nine at the time. The younger son, Phil, almost two, comes with her.
Tina and Doug marry, with parental blessing. Ten years of suburban living go pleasantly: Phil grows up; Ted reconciles with his mother; Doug and Tina’s love deepens.
Tina’s MS symptoms increase. Doug accepts an early retirement package from IBM to ensure medical coverage. Breast cancer and paraplegia due to MS strike Tina in the tenth year. They move to an upper-middle-class town in New Jersey and face a new set of circumstances. When Phil, smart, popular and athletic, graduates from high school and goes off to college, Tina and Doug move to the exurbs, a lovely country home.
Four years later, Tina nearly dies from an MS attack, ending up quadriplegic, ventilator-dependent, fed through a gastric tube. This has continued through eight years of critical nursing care at home, surprising medical experts, whose expectations were that she would live for months, but not years, after the near-fatal attack.
Doug and Tina remain in love, their motto: “together forever.”
Their book, Ting and I, rockets to the top of the best-seller lists [this is the only fictional part].