Real Life

Real life: I almost lost my wife but I'll never give up on her

I refused to let her go, even when the doctors suggested it.

By Laura Masia

Vincent Louie, 35, from Melbourne, Vic, shares his heartbreaking story;

I glanced over at my girlfriend, Anna, as she read her study notes, sipping her coffee without taking her eyes off the page.
I couldn't help but smile.
"What are you grinning at?" she asked me.
"Just thinking about how lucky I am," I replied.
I'd first met Anna at work three years earlier. I was an engineering graduate and she was a temp working in admin.
I'd often listen out for her high heels clicking down the corridor when she came in.
One day, we bumped into each other on our lunch break and started chatting. It soon became a ritual.
I was smitten, but because Anna was moving to Canada in two months' time to study, she was hesitant to start a relationship.
Eventually, she couldn't deny her feelings for me, and we starting dating long-distance.
When she came home seven months later, we moved in together and it soon became obvious we were soulmates.
Me and my lively wife Anna. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Anna was studying for her masters in arts management, dreaming of one day working in some of the greatest museums in the world.
I wanted to support her, so when she finished studying, we moved to London.
Soon after, I bought Anna an engagement ring.
After seven years together, I was certain she was the one.
I hatched a plan to give her the most romantic proposal I could think of.
Anna loved Disney and I wanted to make her feel like a Disney princess.
So I booked a weekend getaway to Germany so I could propose in front of Neuschwanstein Castle, a grand, 19th-century building that inspired the Disney logo.
As we walked towards it, I was shaking with nerves, but Anna didn't suspect a thing.
"Come on!" she said eagerly.
At the viewing platform, Anna turned around to take a photo of the forest below.
Us at a wedding. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
This is my chance! I thought, quickly getting down on one knee.
As she turned to me, she gasped.
"You're the love of my life," I smiled. "Will you marry me?"
"Yes!" she cried, leaping into my arms.
We went home to London, but organised for the wedding to take place in Melbourne, where we're from.
Two years later, I stood nervously at the altar in my tux, waiting for my bride.
I hadn't seen her since the night before.
As I caught a glimpse of Anna walking down the aisle, my eyes filled with tears.
Dressed in her beaded ball gown and sparkling tiara, she was the most magnificent thing I'd ever seen.
We smiled from ear to ear as we said our vows and were pronounced husband and wife.
It was the most magical day of our lives.
Married life in London was bliss – until two months later, when Anna developed a persistent sore throat.
She was out of breath when she tried to walk and talk at the same time. And sometimes, while Anna was sleeping, it sounded like she'd stopped breathing altogether.
Worried, she saw a specialist, and tests revealed a tumour almost the size of a golf ball in her throat.
"We'll have to remove it and see whether it's cancerous," the doc said.
Although it was a shock, Anna was in good spirits.
"I'll be right after the surgery," she assured me.
Anna was thrilled when I proposed. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Thankfully, the biopsy revealed the tumour was benign. Anna recovered quickly after the operation and life got back to normal.
However, two months later, her symptoms returned.
Tests revealed that another part of her throat was swollen and her airway was obstructed.
Over 12 months, Anna required four surgeries.
"This is the last one," she'd say, feeling hopeful.
A few months later, we were both coughing and sneezing with a cold.
"I'm hopping in the shower," Anna croaked.
Minutes later, I heard something bang on the bathroom wall.
I raced in to see her on the floor, choking. She'd vomited and could hardly breathe.
Panicked, I called an ambulance and tried to clear the obstruction in her throat.
For eight minutes, Anna gasped for air, until she collapsed in my arms.
Paramedics rushed in and performed CPR. I watched, frozen in horror, as they tried to resuscitate her.
Fifteen minutes later, they revived Anna and took her to hospital, where she was put in an induced coma.
Anna was put in an induced coma. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
"We'll have to wait for her to wake up," the doctors told me.
I never left her side, praying that she'd wake.
A week later, Anna had come out of her coma, but she was still unresponsive.
Doctors found her brain had been severely damaged.
"I'm sorry, but your wife will never be the same," one told me gently.
"She'll have no memories, no personality and she'll have to live in a halfway house. You should consider letting her go."
My whole world fell apart as I realised Anna might never be the person I loved again.
Still, I stuck by her side, desperate to help her.
Two months later, as Anna came off some medication, I started to see glimpses of her old self.
One day, I was watching a comedy show by her bedside when she chuckled at a joke!
"You liked that one, hey?" I smiled, blinking back tears.
Over the next few days, she'd even giggle at my jokes. My wife was coming back to me.
My amazing wife is making progress. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
When she attended rehab, she was deemed minimally conscious, but four months on, doctors classified her as fully conscious.It was a miracle.
Now, we're back in Melbourne so Anna can access more rehab opportunities.
Although she can't speak or have functional use of her limbs, she understands everything and communicates with me using a tablet.
I know my wife is a fighter, and with the right treatment, she will keep improving every day.
I will hear her say "I love you" and see her sip her coffee again. We've just got to give her time and a chance.
I will never give up on her.

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