When I suffered a disk rupture in my spine (L4/5) in 1998, I was admitted to hospital in excruciating pain, unable to walk or pee for that matter. I had to wait several days before having emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on my spinal cord. The delay was due to me refusing to let the foot orthopaedic surgeon who did the ‘occasional’ spinal work operate on me. While I waited for the senior spinal orthopod to assess me I had time to ponder my circumstances.
Jason and I were living together and had recently become engaged. We had been together for three years.
As the time of my surgery approached, lying flat on my back, unable to do the most basic things for myself, my thoughts were dark. Fears of being permanently paralysed consumed me. On surgery day, when the orderlies came to wheel me to theatre, I felt nauseated. Jason who had hardly left my bedside stood up, kissed me and told me it would be ok. He let go of my hand and my bed began to be manoeuvred out of the ward. In desperation I flung my left arm out, back towards him in a last ditch effort to quell my fear. He took my hand and the bed slowed. I blurt out a question, “What if I end up in a wheelchair?” The question was loaded with every fear I had. Jason, moved closer, looked me in the eye and with unflinching bravery said, “We will move somewhere without stairs.” In that moment he told me everything I needed to know – whatever the outcome, he would be with me and with his love and support everything else would be ok.
I knew I loved this man but I never loved him more than in that moment.