Lee McConaughy knew in that instant, that her life would never be the same again.
If you Google Bob Woodruff on Wikipedia, the first thing you will read is this: “Robert Warren Woodruff (born August 18, 1961) is an American television journalist.” But his story is nowhere near that sound bite of information.
On a beautiful January 29thmorning in 2006, while vacationing at Disney World, Lee McConaughy, Bob Woodruff’s wife, answered the phone call and immediately knew that her old life was over and a new one was here — in an instant. Lee and Bob are the parents of four children, Macklin Robert (b 1991), Cathryn (b 1994), and twins Claire and Nora (b 2000). On that fateful morning, the children were fourteen, eleven, and the twins were five years old.
The phone call was from ABC News informing her that Bob had been involved in a roadside bombing while covering the war in Iraq. She believes that “human beings are built to survive,” but when she first saw him in the U.S. Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, he was unconscious and on life support. Even more upsetting was his misshapen head as the doctors had to remove part of his skull due to swelling of his brain. The doctors explained that Lee must be prepared for the worst, but by early April, amazingly enough, Woodruff was recovering at home. Over a year later, during an hour-long televised documentary, “To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports,” Bob explored the consequences of traumatic brain injury, something he was spared. The Woodruffs have established a foundation to help those suffering with traumatic brain injury, TBI, Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and depression: https://bobwoodrufffoundation.org/woodruff/
Lee’s self-care ritual may be summed up in the four F’s: friends, family, funny, and faith, and she adds hope. Throughout the experience, Lee kept a journal feeling that this support enabled her to go on from day to day providing a feeling of control. Her journal became the basis for her book In An Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing, published in 2007. Two years later, Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress is a monument to coping with chaos, enjoying the missteps, and that having a perfectly spotless kitchen floor is not possible or important; in fact, it never made the to-do list!
Self-care Ritual: Along with Lee’s self-care, I’d like to include my four R’s: recharge, revise, rewire, and refine because being a care partner is a work in progress, always expect a change in the routine.