Kim, 59, had surgery for an acoustic neuroma (a benign brain tumor) in 2011. How did Wayne help with recovery?
Kim: Wayne cooked for me, helped me bathe, washed my hair, gave me my meds, helped me lie down and get up. He took me to every doctor's appointment and reminded me to rest. I was told to allow one week of recovery for every hour of surgery, so we knew it would be at least three months before I could function on my own.
Wayne: As part of her recovery we would walk a lot. Because her balance was still off she would often lean or fall against me. There we were, walking down the street, bumping into or leaning on each other. It was fun.
What else helped in Kim's recovery?
Kim: I read all the pamphlets from the Acoustic Neuroma Association. I wanted to know the bad things that could happen so I would know what to expect. I also practiced mindfulness-based meditation.
Wayne: Support groups helped, too.
Wayne, 68, had a bike accident in 2013 and sustained a traumatic brain injury. How did that happen?
Wayne: I was approaching a bridge and saw some loose gravel. The next thing I knew I was on the ground, up against the rail on the side of the road. Police arrived almost immediately, and I was transported to a hospital where I was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma — where blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain. My right cheek bore the brunt of the fall, though, and I now have titanium plates and screws in that cheek. Kim says I still look pretty good, but she's biased.
Kim: When I saw him in the hospital, he looked like ground beef. He still had gravel and dried blood on him. He needed stitches over his eyebrow. I just felt helpless.
Who is the better patient?
Kim: The morning after his accident, he was on the phone with work. I took the phone from him. I couldn't trust him to not work. Then, later that week, the day he was supposed to be released, he overdid it on some physical therapy and started shutting down and slurring his words. I was a mess and prayed he wouldn't be released. He had another MRI that revealed no change, but they kept him another day [just to be safe].
What has sustained you through these two health crises?
Wayne: Our love for one another and positive attitudes.
Kim: Remembering that every moment is important. Our experiences have definitely made us stronger.