Love conquers all for gravely wounded soldier
Published Saturday, March 3, 2012 9:14PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:45PM EST
If Trevor Greene and Debbie Lepore had never met, you wonder if he would have had the will to recover from a devastating injury to his brain in 2006.
It happened in Afghanistan when Trevor, a Captain in the reserves, was serving with the Canadian Army.
After removing his helmet as a gesture of peace during a meeting with elders in a remote village, Trevor was attacked by a Taliban fighter who had an axe concealed beneath his clothes.
Trevor's brain was almost cut in two. It was the beginning of a long march to survive and recover, a six-year saga of willpower and the love between Trevor and Debbie.
Debbie Lepore is now Debbie Greene and the couple is expecting a child in July 2012. Their first child, seven-year-old Grace, was born before Trevor went to Afghanistan.
Trevor and Debbie's wedding was just one of the milestones they have shared since he came home in a coma to Vancouver from a military hospital in Germany.
Now they have co-authored a book, March Forth, which tells the story of their extraordinary journey together.
It's a voyage marked by ups and down – Trevor on the verge of death, Debbie told he would be a vegetable, Trevor's battle with the demon of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his determination to recover to the point where he may someday be able to walk again.
Above all, it's a story about a couple so in love with each other that even the bleakest outlook for Trevor's recovery could not tear them apart.
When Trevor arrived home in a coma from the attack in Afghanistan, doctors told Debbie he might never wake up…and if he did, he would be unable to move.
One of them suggested that Debbie put Trevor into a long term care facility and just walk away.
But she didn't.
"He had such a strong spirit and he was very strong willed," she said. "And I thought that he's not the type of person that is going to succumb to something like this. He's not going to be another statistic. He's going to pull through."
And he did pull through…alert, speaking and moving, but still not able to walk.
It took four years of painful surgery and patient, repetitive therapy to bring Trevor to a moment he had dreamed about all through his recovery – to stand beside Debbie at the altar on their wedding day.
"My darling love, because of you, I live, I laugh, I smile," he declared during the ceremony on a July day in 2010 before more than a hundred family members and friends in Nanaimo, B.C.
Among the guests was Cpt. Kevin Schamuhn, Trevor's platoon commander on that horrible day in Afghanistan.
"The image I have in my mind of Trevor laying on the ground is something I'll never be able to forget," he said. "Very gruesome and very dark memories, but that in contrast to seeing him on a beautiful day in British Columbia standing beside his bride, this is his reward."
The next goal for the couple is for Trevor to walk again and he is making slow, but promising progress.
Some doctors believed Trevor would never walk again. Dr. Ryan D'Arcy, a neuroscientist from Halifax, didn't agree. He was convinced Trevor's brain could rewire itself to allow him to stand and, eventually, to move one foot in front of the other.
"It's incredibly motivating to be able to say okay, my brain is changing and it's changing in ways that I know," said D'Arcy. "I might not be walking yet, but I'm getting there."
Trevor's therapy now includes attaching him to robotic legs that help his limbs make the movements of walking. A once-impossible dream is now within his grasp.
"We know it's in the future," said Debbie. "And it really is part of the journey for us now. We can't think of just the destination. This is all a journey."