Thursday, October 14, 2004
I had a chat with my friend Abbe tonight, and sorted through a lot of feelings that I decided I want to share with everybody. I have always given everybody the "short version" of how Andy died, but the truth is we walked throught that valley every day we were together for 17 years.
Andy was paralyzed 5 years before I met him. He was a man of quiet strength, and I simply fell in love with him. It took a lot of soul searching on my part to make the decision to marry him because of his injury, but I finally decided that no matter what we had to face, it was better than living without him. I still feel that way.
Because Andy lived with a spinal cord injury for 22 years, Chris Reeve's death hit me very hard. I identify a lot with Dana Reeves, because I walked her walk, although not quite as much since Andy had use of his arms and did not need a ventilator to breathe. The pressure sores and other SCI problems such as urinary tract infections, incontinence, and astronomical financial strain were part of our daily lives.
It was actually a pressure sore that started Andy on his downhill slide, just as it was for Mr. Reeve. Andy had the undiagnosed Hepatitis C in his body ever since the accident, so in 1999 he was starting to experience horrible infections and skin breakdown that the doctors could not explain. He ended up with a bad pressure sore on his tailbone when he was in the hospital for an unrelated surgery.
His first doctor said "I think it is time to send him home and just keep him comfortable.,"
SHE WAS READY TO LET HIM DIE even though she had not even figured out what was causing the problems! There is no such thing as "terminal paraplegia." She said "Most paraplegics don't live that long." Well, I wanted him longer!
We were on an HMO at the time, so I had to fight like the devil to change doctors!! We got an excellent doctor afterward, but it was too late really... the pressure sore was cleared up with intense treatment, but by that time his system was weakened from the infection and the Hep C assaulting his liver. Andy ultimately died of an infection by some of those super bugs... brought on by the pressure sores caused by low protein levels from his malfunctioning liver (Hep C) that we did not know he had until a few weeks before his death, and a kidney stone from lengthy bed rest, in addition to his paralysis. For you medical personel out there, he had positive blood cultures of MRSA and VRE. He went into renal and liver failure. At this point, I brought him home and took care of him until the end.
During our years together, it was such a balancing act keeping him healthy. For all those years we walked a tightrope. Now, I don't want to give everybody the wrong idea. We had lots of fun times, and shared a variety of wonderful experiences. Most of the time we kept the medical issues way in the back of our minds, but they were always there. Our balancing act ended finally in February of 2002.
During my chat with Abbe, she pointed out that we had successfully 'walked the walk,' and I think that is true... I have often felt that it was one of my major life assignments. I would never, never change the time we had together. That is why I identify with Dana and how she said to Christopher 'You are still you.' She loved him in spite of all the difficulties, which don't seem all that difficult while you are loving somebody.
Andy was like Chris... same type positive attitude. He did not want to die...did not want to leave us... he fought with every fiber to live, but it was not to be. That is why I say he is 'always my hero.' I hope that my love for him comes across to everybody, even though I am remarried. I am loving again, I have honestly found happiness again, but this is a different love. It does not erase the love I still feel for my Andy.