Florida Woman Went to Extremes to Keep Paralyzed Spouse Alive

Inside one Punta Gorda couple's tale of survival
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2022 10:53 AM CDT
Updated Oct 2, 2022 4:30 PM CDT

As more and more media outlets manage to interview Florida residents who have weathered Hurricane Ian—in many cases emerging with their lives but little else intact—NBC News shares one couple's harrowing story. Christopher Smith suffers from prostate cancer, and had been due to receive radiation treatment on Wednesday. The appointment was canceled due to the hurricane, and he instead remained in his Punta Gorda home with his wife, who went to extremes to keep her husband safe. That's because Smith's cancer has metastasized to his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down (the hope was the radiation to the spine might restore movement)—and Renee Smith feared their home could become flooded.

"I don’t want him to die," she said. And she explained the precautions she took: "I took some blankets and I put some holes in them with scissors and I zip-tied them to the hospital bed and then I took a big tarpaulin that had grommets and I zip-tied that over it; and then I put pillows and plastic bags and I duct-taped them to the top of the sideboard and I put pillows between the sideboard and the window because I didn’t want him to get cut up to death if the window blew in, and then I put a life jacket on him so that if the water came in he wouldn’t drown, he would float." Echoing others, Renee Smith says Ian persisted far longer than previous hurricanes. The Smiths survived, but Renee tells MSNBC her husband is "traumatized" and she feels like a "coward." (Read the full piece to learn why.)

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