My beloved wife, Tina Su Cooper, now quadriplegic due to a near-fatal MS exacerbation eight years ago, limits her trips now almost exclusively to doctor visits. We have a specially equipped van for transporting Tina, her wheelchair and equipment, including back-up supplies. However, we live in a rural area, and a breakdown on the sometimes lonely road would be a major problem. Unnecessary trips represent unnecessary risks.
Even so, Tina travels many times a year to see various doctors, including her pulmonologist in Middletown, NY to whom we give the lion’s share of the credit for saving Tina’s life almost eight years ago, during her 100-day battle against pneumonia and septicemia in the Critical Care Unit of Orange Regional Medical Center.
Perhaps surprisingly, she looks forward to her doctors’ visits. We try to shield Tina from pain, and she is an exceptional patient: alert, upbeat, stoic, appreciative. Being alive and married to each other is a daily miracle, and we try to find a laugh wherever possible, joking that we’ve “put the humor back into quadriplegia.” Not always, of course. Now and again, tears are more appropriate than laughter.
Each doctor is a character. One is a mountain of a man, truly a gentle giant; I call him “the Moldovan Marvel,” acknowledging his country of origin and his surgical talent. Our family doctor epitomizes the caring, gentlemanly country physician; he is the former head of the county medical association. And her now semi-retired pulmonologist knows us longest and best; he wrote a lyric forward to our memoir and has come to truly care for Tina, I believe.
So—Hi ho! Hi ho! To the doctors we go. Even medical trips can become change-of-pace, change-of-space adventures.