Monday, September 27, 2010

Caregiver of the Week: Aimee Zmysly

When I met my husband he had just gotten back from a deployment to Afghanistan. I had no knowledge of what military life was like,the only person I knew that had served and deployed was my grandpas during WWII. I will be honest it did scare me to know I wouldn't be able to see this man I was falling in love with, anytime I wanted, as I was living in Illinois, his home state and he was stationed in NC. But with love comes strength and we made the long distance work. After three months we were engaged, and I had no question he was the one for me. We then got news
he was deploying to Iraq in Feb of 2005. I was terrified of the unknown. As the months rolled by, the letters, emails and phone calls continued, hearing his
voice and his thoughts made it bearable. 7 months past and he came home safe and sound. When I saw my man walk off of that white bus that August, my heart was full and happy.

Just when I thought the deployment was the big test for our relationship, January 9th 2006 came. He woke up with stomach pains and through out the day became so painful by the end of the night, his friend Matt brought him to the ER on base. After hours of tests and many phone calls to me, we found out it was his appendix.
He called me right before surgery and he said he loved me and that everything would be ok. That was the last time I heard my hubby talk.

After fighting sleep, I was awoken at 5 am by a phone call from his phone, I was excited to see his name. But the voice was not his, his friend then informed me that something happened during surgery and they were taking him to a civilian hospital. My once full and happy heart sank.

I got off the phone and flew down there with his mom. Walking into that ICU was the scariest thing I have ever done. I closed my eyes took a breath and walked. When we got to the door, he was there. Laying with tubes coming out of every place possible. He was in a medicated coma. My legs gave out and the pain I felt just seeing him I wouldn't wish on anyone.

But with love comes strength, slowly I began talking to him, getting knowledge of his injuries, and trying to stay strong for him. He almost died a total of three times through out three months. When doctors said he would not wake up, again, it was another pain that I can still feel to this day. The thought of loosing him was unthinkable, I heard the news and went numb, I laid in my bed for hours just crying and praying.

But my man is stubborn and if you tell him that he can't do something he will do it. So he woke up, slowly he began interacting with his surroundings. He was then transfered to a rehab hospital where he had to learn everything all over again. That included eating solid food, drinking thin liquids, sitting up, walking, talking. He was starting over. In October of that same year, his mom committed suicide. This was so difficult to handle, especially for Yuriy, he sank into a deep depression and I followed. How much can one person take in a years time? I know that answer now, A heck of a lot.

Later that year in 2006 after he was out of the hospital and could head nod yes and no, we got married. It was not the wedding I imagined, my Marine was in a wheelchair and had just gone through the roughest year of his life, yet he wanted to marry me still.

He has an anoxic brain injury, due to lack of oxygen to the brain and with that comes, cortical visual impairment, apraxia of speech and movement, muscle spasitisity, and emotional issues.

He is now at home with myself and my parents. The role of caregiver I don't take lightly. It is a huge responsibility but a privilege to watch the man I love get stronger and try so hard to improve on a daily basis. Some days are easier than others, Yuriy's care takes physical strength as well as emotional strength. He needs assistance with daily activities, has many appointments to go to each week, and some days he is not the easiest person to be with. We have gone through ups and downs, but the one thing that has gotten us both to where we are today, is the love we have for each other. I look at him still to this day and am so in love with him. I admire his strength and love his personality.. Though he cannot speak yet, he does communicate with me the best he can, I long for the day to wake up and hear him say "good morning wifey"

I have found through this journey that I am a strong woman. I have done things I never thought I would be able to do, like speaking at a press conference with Senator Durbin, to tell people about the caregiver bill. Advocating for Yuriy's rights and getting him the best care possible. Sharing our story and my knowledge to help others. I now know one person can make a difference, all you have to do is believe in what your fighting for.

~ Proud USMC Wife Aimee Zmysly


Cannwin said...

Best part "How much can one person take in a years time? I know that answer now, 'A heck of a lot.' "

When you have a soldier in your life you get a lot of comments like 'You're so strong, I would never be able to do that.' or 'Wow, you're so brave, how do you manage!?' or 'I can't imagine having to deal with that.'

I always say 'I deal with it because I have to. The only options are to move forward or give up. You would be strong too, you just don't realize it.'

Thank you for your sacrifice and your story. We all need to be reminded of what's truly important.

nikeathena said...

Aimee, thank you for sharing your story. I cannot imagine the pain you've endured, but your telling of it shows that you have a beautiful and strong spirit. Your husband is a lucky man.

Kanani said...

Anything done from a basis of love will give you strength through the hardest of times. Sure, what you do is out of obligation, and commitment, but without the love that obviously you receive from him, you would have quit long ago.
Keep going!

Kristle said...

Thank you for sharing your story! Your positive attitude is such an essential tool through it all! Thank you for all that you do for your Marine!

Emme said...

This is one of the most inspirational story I've heard in a long time. I'm a softy for love stories and this one is just beautiful. I am in awe of both of them. To face so much so early in life and then to cling to each other through it all is just so heartwarming.

Cheryl, thank you for this post and Aimee, thank you so much for sharing your story. I had to know more about you and found videos on Youtube. After SEEING your husband struggle my heart breaks for him. But, my heart sings for you and I am wishing all the best for both of you!