Nova and Don’s love story is unlike any other. They have been through various obstacles and trials in their personal lives. After finding love in one another, they faced their new challenges head-on together. One of it being Nova’s paraplegia, which was resulted by a sudden heart problem when she was 62 years old.
The early days of their love
Their love story dates many years back. Nova and Don knew each other in their mid-twenties, when they had their own marriages. Both couples had considered each other family. Overtime, they lost contact with each other, and both marriages fell apart, ending in divorce.
Things took a turn when Don called Nova and asked her to catch up over a cup of coffee. Both of them confided in each other about their struggles they were facing, such as their painful divorces, and for Don, his retirement from the Special Forces. Consequently, they formed a special emotional bond over similar experiences, and eventually, found love.
“With all of the stress and problems we were dealing with, there was no denying how madly in love we were with each other and how much passion and adoration was being felt. It became clear to me that being respected, loved and valued, and that gave me the strength I needed to thrive – not just survive.”
Nova and Don were married to each other shortly after, and worked through their challenges together as a couple. Not only did it strengthen their relationship, it also made them stronger individuals. Nova subsequently became an entrepreneur and was highly respected in the industry. “I was a woman in a man’s world and grew in ways I never knew I could,” she says.
A traumatic turning point
Then, in 2008, Nova suffered a heart attack. She underwent a major surgery and had two strokes during the operation, leaving her a paraplegic. Her rehabilitation period provided the couple with its own challenges as well. During rehabilitation, Nova had a broken leg which required surgery, and developed a near-fatal pressure ulcer as well. Through it all, Don stayed vigilantly and attentively by her side.
“As days, weeks, months and years went by there were many layers of pain and problems. It all seemed never-ending and surreal. BUT throughout all of it, I had a pitbull for a husband who watched over every move anyone made with me."
Upon her discharge, Nova found a full-time caregiver in Don – something which she could not fully prepare for. Although he admits to being afraid of what he didn’t know, Don made a determined effort to learn as much as he could to ensure the best care for Nova. “Her blood pressure was all over the place; I didn’t want to be responsible for the death of my wife. I needed to learn more. The doctors worked really hard with us,” Don says.
Husband turned caregiver
Don took care to monitor her blood pressure “which was regularly out of control.” He also learned how to care for her wound, how to change her catheter, and how to administer her bowel program. Nova admits that the first 6 months of Don performing her bowel program were especially tough for her, but Don never stopped encouraging her to be strong. She recalls the powerful message Don said to her during the last time she cried: “I love you, and you will die unless I take care of this; PLEASE let me do what I need to do!”
Don has been Nova’s rock throughout this whole journey. He continually strives to make her feel worthy and loved, like she is “his Brazilian Queen.” He has also been the one who has made her healing a quicker process. The love and support Nova has received from Don has been her primary motivation to be a better person, and she gives back the love by being a peer counseling volunteer together with him at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Life Center.
Nova and Don’s love story is truly one of a kind, and it has made both of them stronger and better.
“Every day of our new life with each other the second time around has been filled with care and devotion and daily living that is filled with passion and dedication to the vows we took as man and wife. I am so proud of that — and blessed to have the love of my life loving me in the way that only he can."
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