Today, Amanda and I will have been married 8 years. I can seriously say she is still the one for me. She is the love of my life. We still enjoy being together and we love to laugh. Our wedding day was a little bit of a different story. If you have been following me here, especially over the last couple of weeks, you know I am prone to cuts, and scrapes, and skin break downs. These are all common for those with spina bifida, due to decreased sensation in various parts of the body.
In May 2012, I finished my master’s degree in school counseling. Then in late July of that year I accepted my first position as a guidance counselor. This was at a small, public high school about 40 minutes from my hometown of Sterling, Illinois. Briefly, after I took the job I began to move things in to my new office and then began to pick up the pieces the previous counselor had left behind.
For one, nearly none of the nearly 300 students had a set schedule of courses they’d be taking, despite the fact that school was a month from starting. This meant that I was given a crash course on how to use the computer program that the district used in scheduling its students into classes. This hasty “tutorial” was given by a counselor that had been there for nearly 20 years, but had retired a few years previously. She was a good teacher and she helped me and the guidance secretary to learn things quickly.
Previous to taking this job, I had divulged to the principal that I’d be getting married in a few weeks, and would be gone on my honeymoon up until all teachers and support staff were due back for in-service days. However, I told him I’d get as much scheduling done before leaving for my wedding.
This gave me about two weeks, including weekends to get student course schedules completed. Luckily, I did have the help of the retired counselor and the counseling office secretary. Despite this, the night before I was supposed to be in St. Louis, where the wedding was being held, we were only about 75% through the entire process. Therefore, I had to leave the rest of the scheduling in the hands of my colleagues.
I went home late that night feeling defeated, but not entirely worried. However, I did feel a bit feverish. This I just chalked up to being overworked, as I had put in some very long days that week. It never even dawned on me that it could be something else.
The next morning I rode down to St. Louis with one of my groomsmen. On the way I began to feel less and less like myself. Then it dawned on me, I had an infection in my knee. I had cut my knee earlier in the week. I don’t even remember how it happened now. I just knew that once we hit Peoria, Illinois that I needed to find an emergency room (ER). We stopped at a ready care facility at first, but once I explained what was going on the doctor there suggested I go to the hospital that was just down the street.
Arriving in the ER there, they assessed the situation, realized there was infection in my knee. They suggested cutting my knee open with a scalpel and draining all of the pus. Then they were going to admit me. I told them to go ahead and cut the knee open and clean it out, but that I would not be staying, as my wedding was the next day. So, they got my knee “fixed.” This means they sliced it open, drained it, left it open, bandaged it and sent me on my way with antibiotics and painkillers.
We did make it to St. Louis, but I missed my bachelor party. Which by that point was just as well, since my knee was throbbing. I got to my hotel, which was within walking distance of the church in which Amanda and I were to be married. I was finally able to crash, and that I did. As I recall, I spent much of that day in bed to try and conserve as much strength as necessary for the wedding rehearsal that night.
For the rehearsal, I remember walking the few blocks to the church, as I was curious to see how my knee was going to fair the next day. I was also on Vicodin, a painkiller that makes me both anxious and drowsy. It is a wonder I did just lay down under a tree and go to sleep. However, I did make it to the church. Throughout the rehearsal I felt a little confused, and my legs were a bit rubbery. However, I soldiered on and the rehearsal ended. From this point forward things are a bit hazy.
I know I somehow made it to the church next day a few hours before the wedding to get dressed and go over last minute plans. I remember feeling both excited and very anxious about the day. I was not having second thoughts at all. It was mostly just stage fright. Likewise, I was concerned about how well my knee was going to hold up. However, before I knew it the wedding had begun. In just a few short minutes I would be going out on stage and trying my hardest not to pass out in front of a few hundred people.
I do remember how beautiful Amanda looked as her dad walked her down the aisle to me. Without her smiling at me the entire time, I am not sure I would have been able to withstand the agony I was in for that period I was up on stage. It was a beautiful ceremony held in a perfect sanctuary. Sadly, I remember very little of it. To this day that bothers me. I wish my mind would have been more present. It is a day every couple should be able to remember together.
There are so many other memories Amanda and I have made since then. It is reassuring to know that there is someone who loves me unconditionally. We are really two peas in a pod. I love Amanda dearly and I am thankful she is my wife. She is a strong woman that is not afraid to get down in the trenches with me. She has cared for me when I have been ill, and continues to do so. I feel fortunate to be married to someone who is so giving and so patient. Here’s to 40 or 50 more years of making memories. There is no one else I’d rather being doing it with.