My caregiver is my husband Chris Paglione. We met at work in November 2002 at our school. We are both hardworking teachers. Everything was so great at first. We fell in love almost immediately. November 2003 was when the Puke Monster hit hard. I always had a history of being sick or having the flu way too often. This time we knew it wasn’t the flu. For 8 months I was in and out of my local hospital, and I had my gallbladder taken out. Chris would carry me to the car and drive as fast as he could to the ER trying to keep me calm. He would do everything he could, including scare the daylights out of ER doctors who did not immediately help. After my doctors at the local hospital refused to help me, Chris took me to a teaching hospital in New York City. He stood by me, holding my hand and letting me cry on his shoulder every step of the way. There I spent another 8 months and had 3 intestinal surgeries. Chris would work all day, coach his basketball team, and then take the 1 and a half drive in traffic to the hospital where he would stay with me as long as his feet could carry him…on bad days, sometimes all night where he would sleep on a chair and then drive to work at 6 am. For my birthday, he bought me a puppy and secretly brought him to the hospital just to cheer me up. Thankfully no one questioned the strange barking coming from my hospital room.
One day while in the hospital, we had a serious talk. He asked me to marry him whether it be walking down the isle in a beautiful white dress or me walking down the hospital hallway with my IV pole. He didn’t want me to worry about anything. He wanted to handle all the planning while I was in the hospital just so I had something to look forward to; so I had a reason to fight to get out of that hospital bed. He carried sample books of invitations to my hospital room and sample bouquets of roses. He wanted everything to be perfect for me. And it was! I got out of the hospital 3 weeks before our wedding and had my feeding tube pulled 4 days before. I quickly ran out and bought a white dress and on August 14, 2004 Chris and I got married. We wrote our own wedding vows and had the whole place crying because everyone knew that it was the unconditional love that we had that took us to where we were on that day.
A few months later, I received the weirdest thing in the mail. It was a tiny crocheted angel with a prayer attached. It didn’t say who it came from, but it did say that someone was thinking about me and wanted prayers sent my way. A few days later, I received another. After weeks of wondering who could have sent this wonderfully thoughtful gift, Chris finally told me that he sent in my story to a website who in turn sent me the angels. He thought I was brave and strong when the whole time I thought I was weak and sickly and struggling. I don’t think I could have gotten through those 16 months without him. He made me smile on even the darkest days. All that he did for me (rushing me to the ER at all hours of the night, sitting at my bedside, sneaking in my puppy, planning the entire wedding, and especially writing my story down to inspire prayers) gave me a reason to nominate him. I tell him everyday how much I appreciate him. For all the surprises he gave me, surprising him with a Caregiver Recognition award would be the least I could do. Thanks for considering Chris.