Second chances don’t usually drop out of the sky.
But for Candice and Tim, that’s exactly what happened.
Tim was a longtime alcoholic whose addiction slowly eroded their marriage. Candice stood by him as he tried and failed to turn his life around, but by 2011 she had finally had enough. Already living apart from Tim, she filed for a divorce to end their five-year marriage.
In December, with the divorce pending, Tim went skydiving. An avid jumper, Tim had made many successful jumps over the years and assumed he would be making another one, but what started as routine quickly changed to disaster.
While turning toward the landing site, Tim lost altitude and slammed into the ground from nearly 100 feet.
Candice was three hours away when she got the call about Tim’s accident. On the drive to the hospital, she received updates from the doctors.
“The surgeon kept asking ‘How fast can you get here?’” remembers Candice. “He didn’t think Tim would make it.”
When she arrived at the hospital, the news was grim. Tim had bleeding on the brain, a fractured skull, fractured vertebrae, a shattered pelvis, a split sacrum, a fractured right hip and femur, and broken bones in both feet. His condition was critical and the doctors told her he was an “hour-to-hour case” and Candice could do nothing but wait.
She lived at the hospital during those first days, staying by Tim’s side as he underwent several life-saving procedures. Her mother and father flew in to support her, and other friends and family offered help where they could. Overwhelmed with concerned calls, Candice used CaringBridge to keep everyone updated on Tim’s condition.
The Long Road to Recovery
Once stabilized, Tim faced the daunting road to recovery. After running on pure adrenaline for the first few weeks, something clicked for Candice, and she found the strength to not just deal with the circumstances, but to shape them. She became her husband’s advocate, asking questions and hounding doctors to make sure Tim was receiving the best care possible.
Playing an active role in a loved one’s care is something Candice would recommend to every caregiver.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to say no and fight back,” she says. “You’re not there to make friends. You’re there to be the advocate for your loved one.”
Facing the Challenges Head-On
Candice’s hard work ensured that Tim got the care he needed, but his recovery was anything but smooth. Complications made additional surgeries necessary and kept Tim in the hospital for months. On top of the more than 20 operations, Tim also had to undergo therapy to regain his speech and cognitive abilities as well as his ability to walk and eat. It was during these difficult months that Candice rescinded her divorce petition because she knew that staying married would be best for Tim’s recovery.
Seven months after his accident, Tim finally left the rehab facility and went home with Candice. The pair lived as roommates at first, still uncertain what their relationship could be. But Tim was a changed man. His brain injuries affected his personality, and the old cravings were gone, as was the addiction that had driven them apart. Over time, the two became a couple again.
“He turned back into the man I had fallen in love with,” says Candice.
Reunited and in love, they still have challenges ahead. On the fourth anniversary of his accident, Tim will have yet another surgery to repair his injured right leg. If this operation is not successful, the surgeons will amputate the leg near the hip.
But no matter the outcome, the couple is ready. Having come this far, they know they can handle whatever else might come out of the blue.
November is National Family Caregivers Month
In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, CaringBridge asks you to show your love and support to the millions of people providing care for a child, spouse, parent or friend. Add the hashtag #IHeartACaregiver to your profile picture via Twibbon by click on this link http://caringb.org/st, and give a shout out or post a photo to social media in honor of the caregiver in your life.
Here When You Need It
Are you or a loved one facing a health journey? If so, start a CaringBridge website, where you can share health updates and receive encouragement and support from your community.
Sona Mehring is the founder of CaringBridge, the nonprofit organization created in 1997 so people experiencing a health journey can rally their community during a time of need. People invite close family and friends to read about their journey through their own personal CaringBridge website. In return, family and friends can show their love and support by posting encouraging messages. Follow Sona on Twitter – <a href=”https://twitter.com/gogosona”>@gogosona</a>.