Judith and George found each other late in life. Now in their 18th year of marriage, and with five children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild between the two of them, it is clear that the couple has lived a full life with each other. 

“I don’t know how to really say it. We were just meant to be,” Judith said.

George has always been a very active man. His family said he always has some kind of project going on around the house. He’s kind and laid back, but he’s a worker.

“This is a man that, even on vacation, he doesn’t know how to relax,” Judith said. “He’s always got to be doing something.” 

Stories of Caring Judiths Story 600

His “always working” personality may have helped George overcome what happened shortly before his 70th birthday at the chemical plant where he had worked for 46 years.

A valve exploded at work and hit George with 4,000 pounds of pressure. Judith received a call from his workplace and rushed to the hospital where she saw the after effects of the explosion on her husband’s body: two broken hips, a fractured pelvic bone, three fractured ribs, three fractured vertebrae, a dislocated elbow, two ruptured eardrums and one massive cut that revealed a portion of his skull. His body was covered head to toe in bruises, cuts, and shrapnel.

“It’s a sight that’s burned into my memory,” Judith said. “I won’t ever get over it.” 

George’s blood pressure was dangerously low and the hospital staff had difficulty making sure he was receiving enough oxygen.

“Honestly, I didn’t think he was going to survive the first night,” Judith said “I was really scared and lost.”

After four surgeries and 20 days in the hospital, George came to Kindred Hospital Clear Lake to continue recovery.

“It was touch and go for a long time. A long, long time,” Judith said. “No one knew if he was going to be able to walk normally again with both hips being broken the way they were.”

At first, George needed total assistance for everything he did, but his inner drive and motivation made him a great candidate for the early mobility program. This clinical program helps people get up and moving as early in their recovery as possible to avoid serious side effects of staying in a hospital bed for too long.

In less than a month, George was able to move to Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital Clear Lake to begin intensive therapy, where he said he finally felt like he was getting closer to the home stretch

Physical Therapist Neil Eastman discovered that George was in a band, so he included the guitar in George’s therapy as they worked on developing sitting and standing tolerances so he could play again.

“He actually was able to play and sing ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles,” Neil said. "It was a really great experience because every person in the whole gym stopped and was just so impressed by how well he could play and sing.”

Judith noticed George began to blossom.

“By the grace of God, and the work of a lot of fine physicians, ICU nurses and therapists at Kindred’s Rehabilitation Hospital, George got better,” Judith said. “He’s not perfect. He’s not exactly the way he was. I don’t think he’s ever going to be exactly the way he was. But that’s okay, because he’s okay. And I’m okay with that.” 

Judith said it was reassuring to know that when she wasn’t around, George was receiving the best care at Kindred. She describes George as a “man’s man” and says that the staff did an excellent job of being sensitive to his needs as a patient and treating him with dignity.

And, of course, Judith was an incredible part of her husband’s recovery. She brought in a magnetic board with letters to help her husband communicate, and made sure she was by his side as much as possible.

Sometimes caregiving for a loved one can cause a lot of stress and worry. Judith says that she has lost 27 pounds since George’s accident. She gives credit to the Kindred staff for helping her remain positive and hopeful.

“I don’t know what I would have done without the care that you all have given us,” Judith said. “I mean even to the ladies who were working down at the reception on the ground floor in the lobby there. They got to know me because I came in every day and they would know my name and ask me how I was doing. That goes a long way.”

George made sure Judith was taken care of too. By giving emotional support to each another, the couple was able to get through some difficult times. Judith explains that no matter what the circumstances could have been, she and her husband were always in it together.

“In the 18 years we’ve been married, we have never been separated until this accident,” Judith says. “We never spent a night away from each other. I never want to spend a night away from him again.”

George is now back at home, persistently working with a physical therapist and a trainer twice a week. He has plans to accomplish things on his and his wife’s bucket list, such as continuing the family’s annual tradition of visiting their beach house or going to Washington D.C. with Judith since they both love history.

“And playing the guitar?” says Judith, “He plays as fine as ever.”

Do you have a story like Judith’s? Share with us in the comments below.

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By Whitney Gaither