Friday, May 18, 2012

North Star

Douglas Winslow Cooper
 
Something my beloved wife, Tina, recently said to me on our porch made me want to reassure her of the constancy of my love for her, a love that has lasted 49 years so far. Reunited with me almost 20 years after we had separated upon my graduation from college, Tina told me about her multiple sclerosis before I proposed to her, and we have faced her progressive disability together. 

Tina nearly died eight years ago of a respiratory infection due to her MS. In his foreword to our memoir, our primary physician, Dr. Richard Walker, referred to our triumph over death in a 100-day battle in the Critical Care Unit of the Orange County Regional Medical Center. He wrote: “Their love saved them both.” He understood.

We thank God daily for Tina’s survival, and almost daily we thank IBM for its generous retiree medical benefits that have supported around-the-clock critical care nursing in our home from a dedicated set of RNs and LPNs. I worked for a decade as a research scientist at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., my favorite job. We have been very fortunate in an unfortunate situation to have so much assistance.

To illustrate the steadfastness of my love for her, I told Tina to picture the North Star, toward which the axis of our rotating Earth points steadily, day and night, fair weather or foul, seen or unseen, always north. Likewise, home or away, attentive or distracted, I assured her, I remain wholly in love with our heroine.

“I love you, too,” she replied.
 
 
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. 

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing...those of us with MS need reassurance from time to time. I have been married 33 years and depend on my husband in so many ways. Congratulations to both of you!

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    1. Yoffe,

      Congratulations to the two of you. Reassurance is key. Too easy to let doubts cloud our thinking. While your dependence on your husband is obvious to you, his dependence on you, on your inner strength, is less evident, but comparably important. We are stronger as pairs than we would be singly. Glad you liked "North Star." Keep looking up.

      Doug Cooper

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  2. I would like to thank you as well, i just pray that my boyfriend can handle the riad ahead, ive talked to him about everything that i have learned so far with my Ms, and have given many things to read up on and learn along with me, i often think to myself i will end up alone when i really need someone. But i know what i have to do, i must keep positive and take care of my health. Who knows i may have a true love like the two of you have found. God bless

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    1. Joan,

      With luck you will not end up as disabled as Tina has become, but it is good to commit to sticking together and helping each other if that day comes. Without it, forget it. I am serious. You must marry someone who will be reliable, someone who truly loves you. Do not settle for less.

      Yes, stay positive. Keep as healthy as you can. Know that medical science is improving and may make much possible that is impossible today. Know that you could handle even the most difficult of situations if you had to. Prayer helps, too.

      Best wishes,
      Doug Cooper

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  3. I think your story is wonderful. My husband and I just married in Sept. after 33 years of apart from each other. (long, but wonderful story) He also knew that I had MS and still proposed. We have a wonderful marriage and he's a wonderful man.

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    1. Dear Cathy,

      Lovely story, much like ours but with an even longer separation. Congratulations and best wishes to both of you.

      Yours is, as is ours, "a dream come true."

      To life! To Love!
      Doug

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