Lindsey Atwell Thinking

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A Couple With Special Needs: In Sickness And In Health

Lindsey And Nick's Wedding Day
Lindsey And Nick’s Wedding Day

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Those were the words Lindsey and Nick recited to each other just eighteen months ago. Who knew that the sickness part of their vows would get here so soon.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” thirty-three-year-old Lindsey said. “My husband has a good immune system. He’s mostly healthy.”

But the last week of March, thirty-six-year-old Nick was rushed to Silverton Hospital with severe pain in his abdomen. Two surgeries later, he is now healing from incisions across his mid-section that will eventually leave wicked-cool scars. At least that is how his mother worded it, attempting to lighten the mood in Nick’s hospital room.

“Battle wounds,” Nick said, a weak grin plastered across his face, his finger pointing toward his abdomen.

Nick was released from the Silverton Hospital in early April and he went home with Lindsey to recuperate. And she tried to take good care of him.

“I always wanted to be a nurse and this was the first time I really felt like one,” she said, explaining how she brought him shredded pork and refilled his water bottle. Lindsey showed me the walker that came home with her husband. “He’s supposed to use it when he’s up walking around. But he prefers me to get the things he needs. And I like to help.” She tries to motivate Nick by telling him, “I love you and have faith in you and I know you will get well.”

Nick’s recovery is expected to take several months. He wanted Lindsey’s life to be as normal as possible during this time so he urged her to keep working, to continue visits with her state provider. But Nick is Lindsey’s ride to and from work. She realized he wouldn’t be able to drive for a while and immediately called the Silver Trolley–transportation for seniors, disabled and special needs persons within our community. “I scheduled it for three whole months,” Lindsey said when we offered to be her transportation. I smiled, impressed my daughter had thought ahead and resolved this problem on her own.

As the recovery process continues, this couple is supported by family and friends in a variety of ways. However, Nick’s Mom has borne the brunt of Nick’s recovery, spending more time at their home than her own. With her dedicated care, we hoped Nick would quickly heal. But days passed and our son-in-law didn’t improve. He had no appetite. He got weaker. He still hurt.

“It’s the pain talkin’ Mom,” Lindsey said, sharing that patients are grouchy and sometimes say mean things. “It’s hard to be a nurse.”

Lindsey said their marriage has temporarily changed: No touching, no hugs, no kisses because any kind of touch hurts Nick. “He’s tired. He’s not himself. But sometimes he blows me kisses,” she said. “And I like that.”

Six days passed. Nick continued to weaken. His mother drove him to Oregon Health Science University. OHSU will perform more tests. Ones that will hopefully reveal why Nick isn’t recovering like he should. And we’re all waiting. Waiting for answers, for solutions.

“I’m scared and nervous,” Lindsey said. “I don’t want to lose my husband. He’s in my heart and there’s nothing I can do for him except love him.” Lindsey’s hand tapped her chest. “But sickness is the worst part of marriage,” she said. “I’ve put Nick’s health in God’s hands because I believe He will take care of the situation and make my husband better.”

Lindsey and Nick Before the SurgeryDuring the past few weeks, we’ve watched our daughter act bravely. She’s been a trooper. We’ve complimented Lindsey on her strength, but she’s admitted that there are times she breaks down and cries. It is the appropriate reaction to a situation like this, but her disclosure tugged at my heart. I don’t want Lindsey to feel this kind of pain. Especially so early in her marriage. But I can’t make the pain go away. I pulled my daughter close and held her tight.

Lindsey wanted to make sure you all know how much she and Nick appreciate people thinking of them. “Everyone has been nice, kind, caring, and thoughtful,” she said. “The Get Well cards and (Facebook) notes have been helpful. It makes us feel better.”

Lindsey is looking forward to Nick coming home and having their normal lives back. She can’t wait to start holding hands and hugging and kissing her husband again.

“We miss each other a lot,” she said. “All the hugs I’ve been getting (from friends and family) help,” she added.

“Even the virtual ones?” I asked, wondering if she understood the concept.

“Yes,” she said, demonstrating wrapping her arms around her torso and squeezing.

Loving Lindsey Cover

My first book will be coming out September 26, 2017. If you are interested in learning more about Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs, please click here.

To honor Nick’s privacy, details of his surgery and recovery will not be shared. Please know that the doctors are doing everything they can to get this young man well.

Messages of encouragement may be left at the end of this post and will be read to Nick (and Lindsey).

I share many passions in this world: antiquing, gardening, hiking, traveling, taking amateur photographs, writing, sitting on a white, sandy beach with my husband and sipping a frozen margarita—just to name a few. If you enjoy any of these things too, let's connect! The world is better with friends.

  • cindy Morman

    Hi Nick and Lindsey,
    I am a friend of your mom’s. She used to work at Victor Point School when I was a teacher there. I have known about you for a long time. I love reading about your life, your wedding, your special relationship, and how you love each other so much. I am praying that Nick will very soon feel better and be able to go home again. It is very hard when someone you love is sick. You want so badly to be able to help them feel better but you can’t. You just have to trust the doctors and trust God. I wish you all the best and hope you are soon able to “hug and Kiss” like you did before. Be brave and be strong.
    Cindy Morman

  • Adventures w/Riley

    I was so sorry to read that Nick has not been well. I hope that he will start feeling better and getting stronger very soon. Lindsey, it sounds like you are doing a good job caring for Nick. I look forward to reading your marriage advice when Nick is feeling back to normal.
    Take care of yourselves. <3 Diane

  • Janet Galvez

    Lindsey, make sure to take care of yourself too! Nick needs you to be healthy so you can help him when he gets home. 🙂 Tell Nick that the kids from Bush Elementary are thinking of him and plan to send him some get well cards soon. Hugs to you both!

  • Ellen Seidman

    Lindsey and Nick, I have followed your story and I was so thrilled to hear about your marriage. I was happy for you, and you give me hope for my son. I am so sorry to hear about Nick’s health problems, but I am glad you have each other to pull through this time. Sending many good vibes your way.

  • Rebecca Benson-Bates

    Sending healing thoughts to Nick as he fights his way back to health!! Thinking of you both, Nick and Lindsey – I hope you’re back to feeling better soon!

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell

    Nick and Lindsey, I’m so sorry that Nick’s been so ill. Lindsey, you sound like you’ve been a great nurse and I think it’s great that you went ahead and booked the silver trolly for three whole months. That should give Nick lots of time to rest and to heal. I hope the doctors figure out how to help him very soon. You’re both in my thoughts and prayers!!

  • Megan

    I don’t know you but have followed your page and have loved reading what is happening in your life. I’m so sorry to hear things are not going so well but send love and many prayers from New Zealand and hope things begin to improve for you both. Love and blessings, Megan xx

  • Wendy Stec

    Please give Lindsey a hug from Me! And let her know that she and Nick are in my thoughts and prayers. Please continue to keep us posted on his recovery. Hang in there!

  • Carol. Breitbach

    Dear Lindsey: you won’t remember me, but we met 18 years ago when a spotted kitten tried to follow you home. I took him in so you could finally go home. We kept him and loved him for 15 years. I am so sorry your husband is not well. You have my thoughts and prayers for a quick recovery. I don’t know you Nick, but I hope they will be able to take away your pain.

  • Delia @ Blog Formatting

    Wishing all the best to both Nick and Lindsey. I really really hope everything goes well. I’m sure we’ll hear great things about them soon. Thanks for posting, Linda!

  • Kristi – Finding Ninee

    How is he doing???

    • Much better Kristi. Thanks for asking. He will have to have another surgery next month and right now he is gaining strength so that he can proceed forward with this medical procedure.

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