Scott and Suzanne McPhillimy were teenage sweethearts who became romantic at 16 as they neared the end of high school.
With the young lovers’ entire futures still ahead of them, the couple, who are both now 34, felt the sky was the limit.
But in 2015, just a year after their marriage, their world began to fall apart.
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Scott, then 26, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – and was devastated at the prospect of Suzanne having to care for his degenerative condition.
Then, just five years later, the unthinkable happened.
Suzanne was on a work assignment in November 2020 when she suffered a “catastrophic” brain aneurysm.
As a result of the event that almost cost her her life, she can only communicate on a basic level.
When Scott thought his wife would have to take care of him, he was desperate to get healthy — or at least well enough to switch roles and take care of his beloved wife.
Now the devoted husband is undergoing radical treatment for his MS in hopes of keeping Suzanne from being placed in a nursing home.
Suzanne suffered her devastating brain aneurysm when she was just 32 years old.
Doctors in Scotland, where the couple lives, warned that little could be done as it was so bad.
But Scott, who works as a civil servant, begged her to try.
Suzanne underwent multiple brain surgeries and was in a coma for three months through February 2021.
She was transferred to a rehab facility the following month before finally being allowed home in August 2021.
However, she is in a wheelchair and has trouble communicating.
“She has a hard time communicating and expressing what she wants to say, she can only really understand simple questions,” Scott said.
“Her long term memory is fine which is a blessing as she remembers the wedding and honeymoon.
“She likes to look at old pictures of them.”
Suzanne, who had worked in an accounting firm, would need home care without her husband – and the couple had to sell their old house as it was inaccessible.
Determined to take care of his wife and keep her at home, Scott flew to Mexico to receive a “risky” form of chemotherapy to treat MS.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT, is a complex procedure aimed at halting the damage caused by MS by eradicating and rebuilding the immune system using stem cells.
It costs £45,000 (almost $77,000) but is now available in Scotland.
Scott is being treated in Puebla, about two hours south of Mexico City, and is scheduled to receive two more doses of chemotherapy this week.
“Suzanne means the world to me,” Scott said.
“We’ve been together since we were 16 and this will be the longest I’ve been apart from her.
“I miss her little smiley face. Part of what makes treatment so difficult is the distance.”
Scott says the situation is not what the couple expected, especially at this stage in their lives.
“It’s very difficult. The husband-wife relationship isn’t what you’d expect from someone our age, but I still love her dearly,” he said.
“We still have that connection, but we can’t go out for nice dinners or vacations anymore, it’s more of a caretaker relationship.
“We didn’t expect that at this age.
“If anything, we thought I needed to take care of myself as I was first diagnosed with MS.”
But he is determined to continue with MS treatment if it can in any way help keep his wife from needing institutional care.
“The treatment I’m getting is risky compared to others because it completely wipes you out and resets your immune system,” Scott explained.
“I stay motivated because it gives me the chance to put an end to my MS.
“Without me she would have to be in a nursing home at 34 – that’s not fair at all.”
Doctors described the aneurysm “as a ticking time bomb in their mind,” Scott said.
“Who knows how long it was there,” he said.
“It’s a wonder it didn’t work when she was driving or when we were hiking in the mountains.”
Scott says they bought a new home because the old one where Suzanne collapsed was inaccessible.
“The new one is better, but not perfect,” he said, adding that he would have preferred her savings to be used towards Suzanne’s care.
“I just take it one day at a time, that’s all you can do,” he said.
“My MS came out of nowhere. I was young, fit and healthy, that wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
“Suzanne also had no prior symptoms prior to her aneurysm.
“She was training for a 5K (event) and was only 32 years old.
“The doctors told us it was catastrophic and there was nothing we could do, but the surgeon took a risk and managed to save her.
“It was a life-changing injury and impacted her significantly.”
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