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Marriage good medicine for meningitis patient

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) — It was a happy day last month when Sandy and Jerry Olger were married at the historic Livingston County Courthouse.

But the couple, both in their 80s, have faced many trying days before and since.

That's because Jerry is among the 250 Michigan residents — and 714 nationwide — affected by last year's fungal meningitis outbreak.

He developed meningitis as well as a related infection in September after receiving a pain injection at a Genoa Township clinic.

There have since been plenty of trips to the hospital and to the doctor's office, including one as recently as Friday — one week after their wedding.

The road ahead could also be trying.

"They tell us it will be another four months or so before he'll be off the medication," Sandy told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ( ).

But the couple draw strength from their companionship.

"We have a lot of faith in each other and in our ability to look out for each other," Sandy said.

They might not have even gotten married, Sandy said, had it not been for Jerry's illness.

"We'd both been married before and weren't really looking to get married again," she said. "But the staff at the hospital kept asking Jerry, 'Is she your wife?' And he'd say, 'She should be.' "

Jerry is retired from a job at the General Motors Co. Proving Ground. Sandy is a retired state employee. They had been friends for years after meeting through mutual friends.

Both had helped each other face serious health issues even before Jerry's recent crisis.

Sandy has multiple sclerosis. Jerry suffered a closed-head injury in a car crash and sometimes has difficulty with communicating details to others.

In spite of their challenges, or perhaps because of them, both decided that they would be better together than apart.

"We just decided to get up and do it," Sandy said of their Feb. 22 wedding.

The event was so spontaneous that two members of Comfort Keepers, a Howell-based agency that provides Jerry with in-home care, were the witnesses at the ceremony.

"They're perfect for each other," said Comfort Keepers co-owner Jeanne Rymarz, who stood up for the couple. "They've been best friends for a long time."

Their marriage isn't yet common knowledge, Sandy acknowledged.

"We haven't even told our families," she said.

That includes her two children and his two daughters and stepdaughter, as well as their grandchildren and Jerry's great-grandchildren.

Sandy is in the process of moving from her home in Mason to her new residence in Milford.

Despite their recent challenges, both are looking forward to better days ahead.

"No matter where you are and what you're facing, you have to focus on the future," Sandy said.


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