After almost two months of being hospitalized with a near-fatal stroke, 37-year-old Robert Valdez wed his bride Alis Romo Thursday in the chapel of the hospital that saved his life, the Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus in Central El Paso. Wochit
Robert Valdez used all his strength and leaned on a cane to walk down the aisle and marry the woman he loves in the hospital that saved his life.
Valdez had spent nearly two months in the hospital after a Dec. 6 emergency resulted in a stroke that left the 37-year-old special education teacher at Lundy Elementary with paralysis on his right side and an inability to speak.
At one point, his family was not sure he’d survive.
But after weeks of recovery, Valdez summoned the strength to stand and marry his love, Alis Romo, 32, a first-grade teacher at Thomas Manor Elementary.
It was the perfect wedding for the couple of 10 years.
The chapel at Hospitals of Providence Sierra campus in Central El Paso was simple and small, yet filled with close family.
The bride wore flowers in her hair and a floor-length gown that her mother-in-law had lovingly purchased a year ago. She walked to Valdez holding the hands of two of their children, Robert Jr., 7, and Abigail, 6. Their daughter Emily Nichol, 1, watched from the audience. The couple also has another child, Hailey Valdez, 14, from a previous marriage.
Alis Romo had three of the couple’s four children in their wedding.
(Photo: PHOTO BY MARIA CORTES GONZALEZ/EL PASO TIMES)
Romo said while they had never imagined a hospital wedding, she knew the moment was going to be memorable.
"I’m surrounded by people that supported me and people that helped save my husband’s life so that is truly what makes it the most special," she said.
Valdez was rushed to the hospital with a tear in his carotid artery. On the second day of his hospital stay, he had to be intubated and sedated in the Intensive Care Unit after a blood clot removal surgery.
It would be days before he would be removed from a ventilator and his family would learn the affects of the stroke. His speech was completely gone and he sometimes was not cognizant, with a blank stare on his face.
Jennifer Lindford, a nurse in the ICU, remembered the turning point for Valdez.
"When he came off the ventilator, he wasn’t responsive … on my last night that I worked, I saw his wife Alis walk in and he just lit up," Lindford said. "I asked him to give me a high five because that is how we assess people, to see if they can follow instructions. And he totally gave me a high five."
Robert Valdez, who is recovering from a massive stroke, took a break in his wheelchair after marrying his bride Thursday.
Valdez’s parents Lucy Parks and Eddie Valdez, who are both retired, took turns helping Alis at the hospital.
"We didn’t want him to be alone at any time so she (Lucy) would stay with him during the day until about 1 o’clock when she had to pick up the kids from school and I would be there to finish the day," he said. "We wanted to show love and support and have his family around him."
With the love of his family and the dedicated care of his doctors and nurses, Valdez slowly started to recover. He even practiced saying "I Do" for the big day.
He couldn’t quite get the words out, but he smiled wide and nodded as Pastor Tom Delgado said his vows to seal their bond. Parents, aunts and cousins wiped their tears during the emotional ceremony that marked a second chance for love.
"I feel forever grateful that I was able to not only plan my wedding but that the hospital staff has been so involved in making every little detail so beautiful," Romo said.
Alis Romo hugged her brand new husband Robert Valdez tightly. Romo said her husband’s near fatal stroke in December was traumatic.
Victor Guerrero, marketing and communications manager for the Hospitals of Providence, said he and several hospital volunteers rallied together in three days when they heard the couple wanted to marry.
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The special evening included a reception with a DJ, who also happens to be a nurse at the hospital. Family and friends didn’t seem to mind a backdrop of photographs of surgeons in the reception room.
Romo hugged her husband tightly and rocked softly back and forth as they danced to Ed Sheeran’s "Perfect" lyrics:
"When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful, I don’t deserve this. Darling, you look perfect, tonight."
María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150; firstname.lastname@example.org; @EPTMaria on Twitter.
The bride and groom took pictures with family after their ceremony.