Douglas Winslow Cooper
Now 67, Tina Su Cooper, my wife, has been quadriplegic due to MS for almost eight years. Married for 27 years, we have been in love for 48. (Read our story in the new issue of Momentum.)
These are big numbers, but life is made of seconds and minutes, as well as years and decades. Today, 20 minutes enhanced our happiness.
A rare late-October snowstorm here in the Northeast has been followed by a week of mild sunny weather. So Tina asked me to take her outside, for what we call “a roll and a stroll.” I’ll walk and she’ll roll in her “chariot.”
We get the wheelchair and Tina outside the house by making some tight turns while inside, followed by backing down the ramp that replaced our front steps. The path from our house to our lakeside community’s paved private road is bumpy (“Wheee!”). We go in reverse to make it less jarring. Big wheels in the lead are better for overcoming obstacles than are little wheels.
We roll and stroll up a gentle slope to the edge of the ninth hole of the community golf course. The sun is already low, as this is a fall afternoon. Some of the trees are bare, but others are dressed in reds and golds, vivid against a field of green. Tina says it is beautiful, and I agree. It is like living in a park. Our spirits are high. We return.
When we return, our nurse checks Tina’s blood oxygen levels. Tina’s is excellent, 97% saturation. I score a 96%, our nurse a 99%. Below 90% would be worrisome. The good news is that Tina’s breathing has been very effective even without bringing supplemental oxygen along on our walk. It confirms her apparent robust health.
We reverse the out-of-bed process and get her back into bed. Kisses ensue. She and I are happy. The roll and stroll was 20 precious minutes in a lifetime of them together.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD, a retired environmental physicist, lives in southern New York State with his beloved wife, Tina Su Cooper, a former editor at the Encyclopedia Britannica and mother of two. Tina was first diagnosed with MS in 1981 at the age of 37, and has been quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent at home for almost eight years. Tina is the central figure in Dr. Cooper's book Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, available through Amazon or his website.