"When we married it was truly 'for better or for worse, for sickness and in health,' and we continue to find joy in all ups and downs. Does this change with new challenges in life? No! We simply adapt, then count our blessings," Ed Woods says.
Carol dated Ed's friend Dave when she was just 15 years old; Ed was 16 years old. Carol and Dave were attending a sophomore social event as a couple. Carol told Dave, "Invite your friend Ed; he's funny." Carol and Ed danced together at the event, and Carol kicked Dave to the curb. Four years later, they got married on May 14, 1971, when they were 19 years old. They will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this May 2021.
Carol's respiratory decline started in 2015. In 2017, Carol became dependent on a ventilator. She was diagnosed with ALS in September 2018 by The ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, where she still attends.
"A major reason we maintain peace in our lives is because Carol is well taken care of - starting with our sister Cyndy and the outstanding circle of friends. Add to this, the many caring experiences with home health nurses, doctors, agencies, clinics, associations, nonprofits, and other families living with ALS. They care A LOT for those they assist. We want to express our gratitude and appreciation for all of their care."
Ed's primary objective was to be by her side each day and provide her with the best care possible. He is Carol's health care surrogate, power of attorney, and advocate between insurance companies. He manages daily household activities, oversees her nursing staff, orders supplies, communicates with Durable Medical Equipment companies, and maintains Carol's organic diet. Despite all Ed has done for his wife, he attributes Carol as the champion for their long-term success.
"Carol is the most kind, compassionate, and forgiving person I have ever known. I have done some crazy things in life, and Carol has always stuck with me. Carol never complains, always smiles, and is very cooperative. She is an outstanding woman and a wonderful wife."
Ed's advice to other married couples facing ALS together is to "take it one day at a time," even though daily challenges try to throw you off course. Enjoy your blessings and stay grounded. Ed credits their faith as Jehovah's Witnesses for helping them remain content in their marriage while managing the effects of ALS. While Carol can no longer speak, Ed says when she found out she was living with a terminal illness, she would often sing a verse from a song in their faith, "and it's just around the corner." They believe that peace and security are just around that corner. Ed feels comfort in knowing that Carol has made peace with her diagnosis.