Monday, June 4, 2012

Traveling at home

Douglas Winslow Cooper

My dear wife for now 28 years, my love for nearly half a century, Tina Su Cooper, used to relish traveling—that is, B.M.S., Before Multiple Sclerosis. Now, her trips are strictly local, except for the trips she takes vicariously.

The local trips are almost exclusively medical. I drive our special van, which securely holds Tina’s wheelchair, and along with it come her nurse, ventilator, oxygen supply and much medical miscellany. It’s a lot of stuff, but all of it is needed, especially if something unforeseen were to occur on the trip.

Having Tina sit for longer than a couple of hours is hard on her, however, so our trips are usually limited to a half-hour ride, an hour at the doctor’s office, a half-hour ride back.

Unfortunately, most of our friends and family live much farther than that. Furthermore, public transportationbus, train, planeis not feasible for us. What to do? We invite them all to visit, which they do, but much too infrequently. We understand. Phone calls help, as do emails and conventional letters. Fortunately, we have each other … and our staff.

Trips to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and throughout North America we now take vicariously, through television programs and DVDs. Paris, Peking, Pretoria, Patagonia and Pasadena are all within reach. No packing or unpacking is needed. No hotel reservations are required. We get the best views of the best places, often with a musical background. What a way to “travel”!

Sometimes, though, the journey is strictly mental, as our memories transport us to far away times and places. The most pleasant mental meanderings end up taking us back to the early 1960s, to Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., to when we fell in love with each other. When we return, we are right where we had so long wanted to be … at home, together.


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.

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