Douglas Winslow Cooper
When I came into Tina’s bedroom yesterday, I was surprised. She and her nurse were watching TV together. Not unusual. My beloved wife, now quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent due to multiple sclerosis, enjoys television, watching anything from news to Dr. Oz to travel to home and garden to documentaries.
We have had around-the-clock nursing since Tina Su Cooper’s nearly fatal MS-caused aspiration pneumonia in February 2004. Our nurses have come to like or even love Tina, and they stay for years, giving her what we call “TLC” for “Tina-Loving Care.” Tina is an exceptional patient, and we select her nurses carefully. The nurse in this instance was raised in Britain and of Jamaican ancestry, and has lived in the U.S. for a decade or so.
Although there was much that Tina liked about Britain when she spent her junior year abroad there in 1964, she noted that her Asian ancestry generated a certain cool distancing from many of the British people she met there. She and others “like” her—blacks and Asians—were segregated in a new dorm, rather than interspersed with the “home” folks. Perhaps such a situation would no longer occur there, but it hurt a bit then. No doubt our nurse could tell of similar slights here and there.
But what had surprised me and pleased me deeply? Our nurse was holding Tina’s hand, the first time I had seen that done by any of our nurses, though many will give Tina a kiss of greeting or goodbye.
Nurse Angela said quickly, “She finds this comforting.” Clearly, Tina did. So did I.
I was deeply touched. “Please do so … any time.”
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.