How I Met My Husband

How I Met My Husband

My husband Michael had Multiple Sclerosis when I married him. He started experiencing problems in 1988 when he woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. Initially, the cause of his paralysis was undetermined. He began aquatic therapy and steroids and, after two months, the feeling started returning to his legs.

In 1989, he woke up and the entire left side of his body was affected. He said he looked like he’d had a stroke. After numerous tests had been run, including an MRI and four spinal taps, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and his doctor put him on betaseron. Michael developed neutralizing antibodies which caused an overreaction in his t-cells that targeted the mylan sheath in his brain stem. The treatment resulted in causing partial paralysis in his diaphragm and also caused severe pain in the left side of his brain. He also had lesions in his lower spine affecting the nerves in his legs.

Michael was unable to walk and in a wheelchair for nine months. His doctor told him he’d probably never be able to walk again. He started aquatic therapy for a second time and also had a nurse coming to his home to administer TENS therapy. After a year of therapy and a lot of determination, he was able to walk again with a cane.

Micheal was then put on another medication, Avonex, to slow down the progression of lesions in his brain. The lesion on his brain stem worsened, becoming larger, and at that point his neurologist told him he was probably going to die. He was given only a 20% chance to survive. His neurologist had nine other patients with the same diagnosis who are all now deceased, eight of which died during the first year after diagnosis. Michael was told to get his affairs in order and remove all stresses in his life.

Michael left his wife and children in Arizona, at his wife’s request, and returned to his parents home in San Luis Obispo, California. There, he started meditation and cannabis therapy (which his neurologist had suggested and wife was completely against). He put on his wetsuit and began floating in the ocean almost daily.

His wife had told him that he had a “green light” to sleep with other women while he was in California. He thought that was odd as he would never consider such a thing. A neighbor called Micheal while he was at his parent’s house and asked him if he knew someone who drove a black BMW. He told him that someone who drove one had been staying at the house while Michael was away. Micheal eventually found out that his wife had started an intimate relationship with both her boss and with a fellow coworker she had know for years. She did it “for the children.”

After five months, Michael’s neurologist called to tell him about a new therapy, Solu Medrol, and suggested that he return to Arizona for treatment in the hospital.

Michael returned to Arizona and was admitted to the hospital for intravenous treatment. The IV dosage was supposed to be infused over a twelve hour period but the directions were written incorrectly and the entire infusion was set to be administered in only two hours. In just over an hour, Michael flatlined.

He left his body and saw some type of being that he was afraid of. It had something behind it that resembled a burnt-copper sewer lid. The creature was brownish-gray in color with no hair, a long face, and thin arms. Then he heard someone say, “Code blue! Grab a crash cart!”

He doesn’t know how much time elapsed between the time he passed out and the time the nurses rushed in. He traveled, out of body, down the hospital corridor and into a waiting room. There, he witnessed a Mexican family gathered around one another in tears.

Michael suddenly found himself in what he describes as a large, white room where he heard an unfamiliar, female voice. She told him it wasn’t his time but he could leave then if he wished. Or, he could return and have a new life.

The next thing he remembered was the sensation of hitting his head against a wall, hearing alarms, having something jammed down his throat, and a group of nurses trying to hold him down. They were telling him that he was okay, to just relax, that he had been intubated.

They had used a defibrillator which left burn marks as evidence on his chest. However, his original chart had disappeared and a new, blank chart was left in its place. When his doctor noticed this, he became very angry. The neurologist was told there was an incident but it was merely an anxiety attack. After speaking to Michael, seeing the burn marks on his chest, and hearing what he remembered about the incident, the doctor left the room. He returned to tell Michael that he had ordered an MRI to see if there had been any brain damage from when he had coded.

Later that day, October 30, 1996, his neurologist returned with the MRI images. He placed the images on the wall and said the lesion he had been monitoring for two years was gone. Michael got out of bed, looked at the scan, and saw a healed mylan sheath on his brain stem. The active lesion, the one that was supposed to kill him, was now completely gone leaving only scar tissue in its place. Michael told the doctor he wanted to be discharged immediately. He’d decided that he would more likely be killed by interns and nurses than by an MS attack.

Michael called his wife to to tell her the good news, but she didn’t sound happy about the miraculous healing that had taken place. After picking him up, anytime she made eye contact it was with a cold, unemotional look. The next day, Halloween, she was distant and complaining about every little thing. When I stopped by their house with my daughters, she was irritated and saying, “Why didn’t you put the candy in the bowl like I told you to?”

He left the following day and returned to California. He received a letter from his wife within the first week telling him that she was moving in with her boss. She wrote that she originally thought it would be the coworker and friend she’d know for years, but she had fallen in love with her boss and, therefore, wouldn’t be at their home when Michael returned. On Thanksgiving day, Michael walked into a quiet, empty house that he didn’t leave for two weeks.

I was twenty-nine at that time and in the process of divorcing my first husband. He was an abusive alcoholic and his behavior was getting worse. He was staying out all night, not communicating or spending time with his daughters, going to strip bars, and (I later found out) he had started using methamphetamines and sleeping with a coworker.

He had previously befriended our neighbor who had Multiple Sclerosis. His daughter and our daughters played together almost daily for over two years. Things had changed drastically since our neighbor moved to be with his parents in California due to his worsening health. Not having a person with morals and values to spend time with, my husband spent time with those who didn’t.

If I hadn’t had a group of friends I’d met through the poetry circuit to offer emotional support, as well as college classes to focus on, I know things would have been more difficult for me. I eventually started seeing someone in early October, 1996. He was someone I’d known for a year but wasn’t someone any of my friends could have possibly imagined me with. After two months, I understood why. It’s amazing how well someone can hide their addictions… at least in the short-term.

On the evening of Friday, December 13, 1996, I was driving home from a little coffee shop where I’d just run into another poet I knew. He had asked me out and we exchanged numbers. As I drove, I had the radio on and I was caught up in thoughts about what the upcoming date would be like. Then the voice I’d communicated with since childhood chimed in and told me to go to Michael’s house. Michael had been a friend of my soon-to-be ex-husband and his house was right behind ours. I argued with the voice, as I always did, saying there was no way I was going to Michael’s house. The voice was persistent, saying, “You need to go to Michael’s house.”

I told it to give me one good reason as to why I should go to Michael’s house. The voice said, “You need to invite him to your house for Christmas dinner.” It went on to say that Michael’s wife had left him, taken the kids with her, and that Michael was alone and depressed. “People often commit suicide during the holidays.” I couldn’t argue with that kind of logic, nor could I bear the thought of someone killing themselves, so I went to Michael’s house. 

  When Michael opened the door, he looked so sad and defeated. I sat down with him in his living room and told him that he couldn’t give up on life just because she had left him. I told Michael that he needed to get out of the house and do something. He said everyone was busy because of work or the upcoming holidays. I offered to spend time with him, suggesting we go play a few games of pool, then he asked me if I wanted to go the following evening. I hadn’t told him about the date I had set up with someone else, but I couldn’t say no. Instead, I went home, called the other guy and told him about what had just happened, and we postponed our date until Sunday. I never had the opportunity to go out with that guy because I fell in love with Michael during our pool date and he and I have been together ever since.

 Ten days after my first date with Michael, on Christmas Eve, he and I were out in his back yard staring up at the sky. We saw a falling star and we each made a wish. Then I said (in my head), “If this is the man you’ve promised me, the one I’ve been waiting for, I want a sign. I want to see an arrow in the sky.”

I didn’t dwell on the sign I’d asked for after that but, on February 12, 1997, as Michael and I were driving from Phoenix, Arizona to San Luis Obispo, California to get married, I looked up at the crescent moon in the sky and saw a perfect arrow pointing towards it. Excited, I asked Michael, “Do you see that?!?” He looked up and he was amazed. I then told him what I had asked for and, as I finished, the arrow dispersed. It was a perfect arrow. A solid white arrow with straight lines. People always ask if it was just a cloud that looked like an arrow and I tell them, “No. Absolutely not. Clouds don’t form into solid, white arrows with straight lines.”

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