Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cuddling

Douglas Winslow Cooper

My wife, Tina, and I no longer sleep in the same bed together overnight, as we had been pleased to do for most of the first two decades of our marriage. We stopped in 2004 when she came home from the Critical Care Unit, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent due to her multiple sclerosis. 

She shares her bed with an alternating-pressure air mattress, her ventilator tubing, and a Teddy bear and is awakened once or twice each night for medications and ministrations. 

Her bed is a hospital bed, and I slept there uncomfortably one year when we had no overnight nursing, but it is narrow and her care and my sometime insomnia have made sharing the bed overnight impractical. It is a loss we both felt, both commented on when it began, both have almost gotten used to now.

Last evening, for a half an hour, we cuddled there. Turned on her right side and supported in that position, Tina could see me and speak to me easily as I lay beside her. We chatted a bit and reassured each other, as we often do. We listened to romantic music given to us for Valentine’s Day, the forty-ninth anniversary of our falling in love. She fell asleep briefly, as I held her hand.

She awoke. I got up. We agreed to do it all over again tonight, if we can.

Life and love are precious. Carpe diem! Seize the day! Seize the evenings, too, while you still have them.



Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., 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 she 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 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or their website, tingandi.com.

20 comments:

  1. I love following this romantic love story that you have with your wonderful wife. You are truly an amazing man to stand by her through all of this!

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    1. Susie,
      Thank you. We hope you have found or will find comparable love in your own life.
      Doug and Tina Cooper

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  2. Thank you, Dr. Cooper, for your story of devotion, love, compassion and caring. All of us who suffer from this awful disease should be so fortunate as to have a companion/care giver who is so kind.

    It brought tears to my eyes. You are a very special man and Tina is blessed to have you. Keep touching. We as humans all crave that simple interaction and it can have powerful effects.

    My best to Tina.
    Jeri

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    1. Dear Jeri,

      We appreciate your kind thoughts and best wishes.

      Such a marriage, one with a disabled partner, takes
      two special people to succeed. If it is viewed as an
      opportunity to have a "special" life together, rather
      than a conventional, routine one, then each can feel
      good about overcoming the odds. Sometimes, situations
      help us rise to meet their challenges.

      Delighted you enjoyed this,
      Doug and Tina Cooper

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  3. I have MS since 2003. I am not married. I divorced prior to being told of my MS. The power of human touch is so wonderful and comforting. I miss that part of having someone to love. I love this beautiful story you have shared. I am positive your wife enjoys this time with you. May you have many more happy years together.

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    1. Dear MODern girl,

      Thank you for your good wishes. We hope to have many happy years
      ahead, but life is full of surprises. Our motto is "together forever," and we expect to fulfill its promise, alive or otherwise.

      Yes, touch is pleasant and reassuring and not always available, whether married or single, so one appreciates it when it occurs.

      Your inclination toward the romantic side of life makes it more likely that you will re-marry, if you still seek to.

      With our best wishes,
      Doug and Tina

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  4. I had lost all belief in real love, until I read this. God bless you and your beautiful wife, Dr. Cooper. I wish you many more years of cuddling.

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    1. Dear CindyAnn,

      It's rare, but it's there...somewhere. The temptation toward "poetry" [if that's what that was] briefly overwhelmed me.

      I have written such pieces to encourage others that there is the possibility of real love in their lives, that it can withstand MS, that it requires the right partner and the right attitude and the right effort. It is hard to be encouraging without seeming smug. I guess the message is: it is possible, and it is worth it.

      May God bless us, every one, as Tiny Tim said.

      Doug

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  5. Love is truly blind looking past our disease when you have a partner who can. I have had MS for 8 years. My husband and I started dating when I developed optic neuritous in my left. He stayed by my side through all the hospital and doctor visits, blindness, depression and progression. He asked me to marry him in 2007 and we are still going strong! Life is a rollercoaster ride with highs and lows. But you get off the ride with smiles and laughter. I wish you and your sweetheart many more nights with love and hope.

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    1. Dear Christie,

      Yours is a lovely story. I like the "roller-coaster" metaphor. Often, it is not where we are going, but the ride, that is to be experienced / savored / learned from. We salute the man who chose to join you on the trip.

      We wish you both a happy marriage, a wonderful ride together.

      Doug and Tina

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  6. What a wonderful story! You are a great Man! Great love is what keeps Her strong! I hope you have many more years of cuddlling! a great story for young kids, who seem to think cuddling means sex! Sex is so overrated! I'll take cuddlling over it anyday! Ok now I'm crying! Thanks alot!!!LOL xoxoxoxoxoxoxo to you and your wife!!!

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  7. Dear WendyM,

    Glad you liked it. Thanks for accolades. Touch can be very pleasant and reassuring, and cuddlng may be available when sex is not. Surveys show that many women prefer cuddling to sex, with men having the reverse priorities. Both have their positive attributes, clearly.

    Kids and sex ... as dangerous a combination as alcohol and driving, perhaps more dangerous. We have over-sold sex in our society, I fear, and we have swung from puritanism to promiscuity, trading one set of problems for another.

    Cordially,
    Doug

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  8. Wow, what an incredible story ! I am the one who sufferes from MS in my family. I love being able to be romantic with my wife when I am able... Thanks for giving me something to look forward to !

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  9. Dr. Cooper,

    You are an inspiration to all care-givers that daily look into the eyes of that loved person and say "I love you more today than yesterday"...thank you for your thoughts and for sharing your experience with us....

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  10. Great Story Dr. Cooper. May you and your wife continue to be blessed with love.

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  11. Last year my wife was diagnosed with MS. She can only walk with the help of a cane,but not to well.She is slowly getting worse, it's starting to effect the rest of her body now. She is 66 and I'm 49 and have the same kind of love that you talked about. I would do anthing for her,and I do. Life is short live every minute while you can.

    Paul

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