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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Day +83: Let non-freedom ring

“I’m not going to wear my ring, okay?” I remember Ramón asking that as we did one last sweep of the house before departing for the hospital on April 3. Now, 90 days later, Ramón’s left hand remains ringless; instead he’s wearing a pulse oximeter. Above his wrist, there’s a peripheral IV. Above that, there’s a PICC line that’s being removed today.

On a whim one afternoon in May 2015, Ramón asked if I wanted to go ring shopping. We had this conversation often, and I finally agreed that day. After looking at a few antique stores, a cashier suggested a family-owned jeweler that was nearby, so we headed that direction.

We sat in the car in the jewelry store parking lot while I unhooked my IV antibiotic from my PICC line. My lungs were acting up, so I was doing a round of two different IV antibiotics to whip them into shape. When we entered the store, the jeweler started asking a bunch of overwhelming ring questions that I couldn’t answer. Finally, I pointed at a necklace I liked and asked if it could be a ring. HE [the jeweler] SAID YES!

When Ramón picked up the ring several weeks later, we weren’t sure what to do with it. After much negotiation, Ramón let me test it out. We admired it in the mirror, and Ramón asked if I wanted to keep wearing it. “Sure,” I replied. Romantic. Five years ago today, July 2, I ventured out into the world wearing my engagement ring for the first time.

Later that year, we found ourselves printing some wedding vows we found online. We saw the traditional line about “in sickness and in health,” and we joked about changing it to “in sickness and in sickness.” We didn’t, yet here we are. Early Monday, after almost 40 hours in a regular room, Ramón was moved back to the ICU because he was having trouble breathing.

After battling cystic fibrosis my entire life, it’s almost unfathomable how dramatically the tables have turned. I wish I could go back to being “the sick one” – way back when we were dealing with one major illness. I identified as a CFer, then a cancer wife, then a transplant wife, and now a brain injury wife. It’s hard to be sick, but it’s harder to feel the powerlessness I feel now. Let non-freedom ring.

When we contemplated saying “in sickness and in sickness,” we really had no idea what was coming. None of us do. The only way for me to remain standing is by focusing on the present moment. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and that terrifies me. But today I tried putting my ring on Ramón’s finger, and it made me smile. In that small moment, I found some joy. Keep the love coming our way.

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