“We are not going to be a tragic love story.” That was what Sydney said to me the first night in the hospital. Her phrase became our goal for my recovery, our mantra, our war cry. It was the mindset that determined everything we did for the next 270 days. It motivated us to seek new ways to communicate with medical staff and to find good doctors.

Our journey to my becoming a successful partner in my medical care began with a 104-degree fever. After a few days in the hospital, I was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, a bone infection in my T12 vertebra. A colony of dormant strep bacteria woke up and were consuming my spine. On the 13th day, Sydney took me home. I went from being in the hospital and septic to being home on IV antibiotics to combat the bugs.

It w