2016 Wedding of a Lifetime Finalist: Michelle + Nolan
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From the moment Nolan Arasato saw his wife, Michelle, it was her strength and perseverance that sparked his feelings for her. “When I first saw Michelle, we were working at Gem’s and what attracted me to her at the time was seeing her push pallets, you know 4,000 pound pallets around the store and I thought to myself, wow that girl’s really strong” says Nolan.
However, it was through their shared love for music that they bonded. While Nolan’s hand strummed his ukulele, Michelle took it from him and began to play and sing her own song. “I was just blown away I had never met anyone who could sing beautifully and play the ukulele” he says.
Happily married with six children and four grandchildren, Nolan and Michelle planned a road trip around the island with their family on March 25th, 2014. While driving to Chinaman’s Hat, Nolan began to feel tingling in his legs and after eating, his jaw locked. He was rushed to the hospital and the next day he was diagnosed with Gillian Barre Syndrome. This disease begins with flu-like symptoms and after those symptoms pass, the immune system will begin to attack it’s own body.
Gillian Barre Syndrome left Nolan a quadriplegic.
Michelle quit her job to be Nolan’s full-time care taker. On top of their medical issues, the insurance companies would question why Michelle was able-bodied, but still had no job. She had no one to help care for Nolan and could not afford to hire anyone, she was stuck. Michelle wrote to the government asking for assistance and her requests were finally granted.
As quickly as the insurance problems were fixed, the Arasato’s hit another wall. Someone had sent a letter to the insurance company saying that Nolan could walk. Michelle had to retrace and explain to the insurance company that Nolan was still a quadriplegic. “For me, caring for Nolan is like, how I look at it is living my vows. In my vows it says in sickness and in health. I never thought anytime in my life that I would be caring for my husband this way.” She says, “Everything he needs is me.”
Nolan hopes that through occupational therapy he will be able to regain some valuable skills like using his hands to cook and standing to use the bathroom. Right now, Nolan cannot hold his own grandchild. Michelle has to place the baby into his hands. “The thing that keeps me going is the love I have for him” says Michelle. “Our love for each other can exceed any obstacle, any hardship, any sorrow, any anguish, our love for each other perseveres through anything” says Nolan as Michelle sits by his side with her arm around his shoulder and their knees touching ever so slightly.