A beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Berkeley Springs just over 2 and ½ years ago found Dan and I standing in front of a congregation of approximately 200 people. As we began our walk down the aisle, we were about to renew our marriage vows, this time standing in front of large crowd, with several other couples standing next to us, all standing in front of God, our Heavenly Father. Pastor Andrew, in his typical “non” typical service, had invited couples to stand before the church and get married! I was soooo excited… especially about the honeymoon to follow!
Here’s the thing. Dan and I were already married; and, well… so was everyone else. You see, 12 years earlier, we actually secretly eloped and were married at the Court House on Christmas Eve, 1996. I’ll never forget my 6 foot tall hunk-honey of a husband-to-be… standing tall… next to me. He was every inch solid as a rock; my engineer; my problem solver; my fearless protector with farm-boy arms of steel, a chest as broad as Texas, and the cutest butt you ever did see! At barely 5 feet and 100 pounds, I was the luckiest girl ever. I still tingle every time Dan leans way down to kiss me, especially now as we just completed our wedding vows.
To be standing with Dan, 12 years later, at an alter in front of God and all the congregation was the sweetest thing ever, especially as he bent way down to kiss me, again. After spending 14 years together, as a family we had traveled together, built a house together, owned/operated a consulting engineering firm together, and increased our family to six together. Our lives were, well… perfect. We cherished each other and the lives we had created. Dan treasured me with abundant blessings and I was privileged to be Mrs. Daniel Hott.
I always feel truly blessed when I think about that day standing at the alter with my husband, Dan. You see, it was not even a month earlier that a neurologist gave us the news. Dan had Parkinson’s Disease. On this particular day, the second time we got married, Dan was almost a month into a dopamine study to confirm this diagnosis. He had been taking something called levadopa to see if his symptoms improved. Although his rigidity improved, as we renewed our vows, I held tight to a tremoring hand.
God had blessed us with so many things, including the surprise of babies, had he also blessed us with Parkinson’s Disease?
“To have and to hold, from this day forward,
for better, for worse, for richer,for poorer
in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
Since Parkinson’s Disease moved in with us in 2008, Dan has generally had limited physical progression of the disease. He has been able to find benefit from his meds, constantly tweeking and learning as the stinking symptoms creep up on him. Overall, one would say that he is managing the physical demands. Everyone even raves at how well Dan looks, standing at six feet with just a tiny drag to the left side of his body!
Until January 2011. Parkinson’s Disease has decided to rear it’s ugly head.
Starting with back pain nearly a month ago, Dan’s rigidity and distonia is now so severe that he has spent nearly two weeks incapacitated. Initially, he thought that perhaps he had sustained an injury that caused some sort of fracture or break in his hip. A very painful xray showed otherwise; a spine and hip that “looked good,” according to the Emergency Room doctor. We have since learned that early signs of Parkinson’s can include back pain or problems with the “L5” disc.
The distonia in Dan’s left leg has crippled him for several days now. The rigidity in his muscles are cramped so tightly that his entire left leg draws completely up to the point where it is bent. He is experiencing tingling and numbness in his extremities on his left side. From what I had anticipated with Parkinson’s, this degree of degeneration was not expected to happen until years down the road! At least it was supposed to wait for the kids to be grown ups. Instead, Parkinson’s has stolen Dan’s ability to do the simplest things, like walk and, well,… even stand.
Is this hard? You better believe it is! For the first time ever, I am the tallest Hott in the house! Do I like it? Well… no, not.at.all. I find it sometimes unbearable to “stand tall” and allow God to be in control of this crazy illness called Parkinson’s Disease, whatever it is. In Andrew’s sermon last week, he had to go on and on about the stories of Daniel in the Bible. Really now. Tell me God wasn’t reminding me that He will truly get us through this. .
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.
We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.
We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Although having to watch something like Parkinson’s literally knock down my Hott-honey-husband, we are still blessed every day. Parkinson’s Disease wouldn’t stop me from walking down the aisle with Dan again. He may not be standing at six feet because of stupid Parkinson’s Disease ever again, for all we know right now, and I may have to push him in a chair; but, you know what? I would still be privileged to recite those same marriage vows.
And that kiss would still tingle!
“Blessed is the man... who does not walk.” Psalm 1:1