Terminally ill wife undergoes physical therapy to improve her quality of life for baby

(CNN) — Mary Harder and her fiancé, Jim, entered a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner one day in 2016. But what they didn’t know was that hard work and patience would follow. At the…

Terminally ill wife undergoes physical therapy to improve her quality of life for baby

(CNN) — Mary Harder and her fiancé, Jim, entered a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner one day in 2016. But what they didn’t know was that hard work and patience would follow.

At the time, Mary Harder was a year into an intense labor and delivery – high blood pressure, an epidural, and other complications. At seven months pregnant, Harder’s leg was just a few centimeters away from the wall of the pelvis.

The medics ordered an MRI, which revealed hemorrhages and a blood clot on her left femur. Harder would need surgery to remove the clot and a metal rod to stabilize her leg.

Determined to enjoy her bundle of joy and not miss him’s first day of school the following year, Harder and her fiancé returned to the hospital one day in May 2017. Harder’s obstetrician told her to get ready for an extended MRI because she might require surgery.

After getting up to leave, Harder noticed a doctor’s tray nearby with another man’s back brace. “She was kind of pointing at me,” Harder recalled, laughing. “We were like, ‘Oh, I guess they’re going to look at my joint.’ ”

The two medical professionals took a moment before pulling out the wooden brace. Harder had a small bone protruding from a lump on her lower leg. The doctors fixed the gap. When they left, Harder and her fiancé exchanged jokes about that first patient.

For Harder, the long journey took place almost entirely over the phone and in person. Her doctor tried to schedule a week-long visit to get over-the-counter pain medication for Harder, but her fiancé said she wanted the long wait to be more fun.

Every two months during Mary Harder’s extended period of inactivity, she’d return to the hospital for surgery. The course of treatment ranged from surgery to walking on crutches to therapy that included doing push-ups, lifting weights and riding a stationary bike.

“I don’t have that many days where I can really breathe and be lazy,” Harder said. “It sucks because you’re relying on each other and you’re not used to doing things all the time.”

Throughout Harder’s journey, her fiancé supported her. In the beginning, Jim Harder said he’d walk without thinking about her pain. Once she would ask, “Do you know how many crutches I have?” He’d say, “Yeah, I think there are a lot.” That’s when Harder realized how hard this was.

Today, Harder walks with a limp and wears her leg brace at home. As she adapts, Harder helps her fiancé. When a mountain of laundry piled up, Jim Harder got his wife a hair dryer. After three days without support, Harder slipped and banged her knee. Harder grabbed Jim’s shoulder to help her slow down.

“I’m very emotional about my leg,” Harder said. “I’ve developed some strong feelings about it. But I’m in good shape, and I’m proud of that.”

Surgery-free on the morning of her third ultrasound, Mary Harder said she’s “more and more comfortable” walking on crutches. She’s hopeful that her future son will benefit from the intense therapy.

At the time of the accident, Harder said she wasn’t thinking about how she’d make it through this difficult diagnosis. She just hoped she’d make it to the hospital for the baby’s birth.

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