Meadville Tribune


October 30, 2012

Ailing groom takes most of his wedding lying down — in a stretcher

Some guest thought it might be a joke, but even serious injury wouldn't stop this wedding day

MEADVILLE — As friends and family gathered at Frenchtown’s St. Hippolyte Church for last November’s wedding of Samantha and Matthew Foulk, many thought they were witnessing some sort of practical joke. There was the groom, flat-out on his back on the altar, attending his wedding on a stretcher.

Holding on bravely to an unspoken wedding-day commandment, “the wedding must go on,” his young bride carried through on two years of nuptial plans despite her groom having to attend their perfect day unable, except briefly now and then, to stand up.

A year now past, the former Samantha Jo Taylor of Townville recalls putting aside the initial shock and dismay to realize her and Matthew Foulk’s dream of a wedding after her fiance had herniated a spinal disc one month prior.

Granted, the honeymoon cruise had to be put on hold. But their big day was accomplished.

“It was an accumulation of issues,” Matthew explained about his ill-timed back injury. “Doctors said it was from heavy lifting, spinal compensation for wearing my wallet on one side, and being hunched over desks and computers in college.”

Chronic back pains around October 2011, just weeks prior to the Nov. 12 date, brought Matthew and his wife to Meadville Medical Center’s emergency room and eventually the care of Dr. Brian Dalton of UPMC Hamot, Tri State Neurological Surgery president.

During the course of his month-long, pre-wedding treatment, Matthew was given two steroid injections at different intervals, meant to strengthen the muscles next to his herniated disc which would, in turn, push it back into place.

The first one improved his condition somewhat.

“The second injection actually enflamed my muscles and helped the disc strangle the sciatic nerve going into my right leg,” he said. “Sitting was out. I could stand or walk with a cane for short bursts thanks to chiropractic and physical therapy.

For a whole week before the wedding, Matthew visited a chiropractor once a day and attended physical therapy twice, Samantha said.

Her husband’s longest stint of standing during those painful weeks was during their vows. He lasted three minutes before having to rest.

“We didn’t really have to adjust wedding plans that much overall,” said Samantha. “We just added times for him to lie down and rest during the service.”

Meadville Area Ambulance Service provided Matthew with a stretcher free of charge for the reception at the Meadville Elks Club.

“A lot of people were coming from out of town for the wedding; we weren’t canceling,” said Matthew. “We just had some minor ceremony adjustments.”

The service was certainly memorable and very enjoyable for the newlyweds, despite initial reactions to Matthew’s condition. Plenty of family support was present throughout the ceremony as well as for his post-wedding surgery.

“We let my immediate family know,” said Matthew, outlining his and his then-fiancee’s move back with parents. He spent most of his time at home in bed — the newlyweds also spent their after-wedding weeks waking up at 8 a.m. every day for physical therapy.

“The doctors had to detach my muscles to get to my spine,” he said, noting invasive procedures were the final option, albeit necessary because of the steroid reactions.

“My wife became my nurse after the surgery,” he added. “She dressed me, helped me brush my teeth, etc.”

Surgeons removed Matthew’s herniated disc by opening his spinal casing to relieve pressure on his sciatic nerve — his back muscles then expected to fill the gap and replace the disc in supportive and motorskill duties.

“It was definitely a full-time job,” said Samantha of her new role. “It was still enjoyable just being with him and finally being married.”

Text Only
  • Which foods are the worst for the environment?

    As with most arguments about our food supply, though, it's not that simple. Although beef is always climatically costly, pork or chicken can be a better choice than broccoli, calorie for calorie.

    March 12, 2014

  • Old Spice attracting women in gender-bending win for P&G

    Young women are embracing Old Spice - long known as the brand dad kept in the medicine cabinet - even as P&G's marketing continues to focus on their male peers.

    March 12, 2014

  • news_planesearch.jpg Missing Malaysian jetliner confuses a world that's online 24/7

    The disappearance five days ago of a Malaysian Airline Systems Bhd. aircraft with 239 people on board is confounding search teams and a global audience used to around-the-clock connectivity and real-time updates.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_nycexplosion.jpg VIDEO: Aftermath of NYC building collapse

    Footage from the New York Daily News shows firefighters responding to a building collapse at East 116th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem. At least 11 minor injuries had been reported late Wednesday morning.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_google.jpg First Apple, now Google hit with kids' app lawsuit

    Last month, 4- and 5-year-old brothers in New York quickly spent $65.95 in real money to buy virtual goods in Marvel's Run Jump Splash game on the family tablet. They were able to rack up the charges without entering a password. And for that, the boys' mother has joined a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against Google, accusing the company of deceiving consumers about its in-app purchase system, which critics say makes it too easy for kids to spend money on their Android devices.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • If you were a crustacean, would you feel pain?

    A scientist and a seafood chef walk into a bar. "We have a mutual interest," says the scientist. "I study crustaceans and you cook them." But the chef wanted to know just one thing: Do the animals feel pain?

    March 12, 2014

  • 20140309-AMX-SNAKES094.jpg Researchers tackle mystery of how some snakes can fly

    Flying snakes sound like creatures from a bad B-movie, but these serpents are elegant gliders that have evolved a special skill that sets them apart. In two new studies, engineers have used simulations to try to decipher how the wingless reptile manages to remain airborne despite its lack of flight appendages.

    March 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • missing-plane.jpg In this tech age, how can a plane go missing?

    Call 911 from the side of the road, and GPS satellites can tell dispatchers exactly where to send help. Airline passengers have access to detailed maps that show exactly where they are during their journey. Hop onto WiFi, and somehow Google knows whether you're logging on from Lima or London, and will give you detailed suggestions about what to eat.

    March 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • plane-skydiver.jpg VIDEO: Skydiver, pilot treated after midair collision

    A pilot practicing take-offs and landings got tangled up with a skydiver in Polk County, Fla., but amazingly, no one was seriously hurt.

    March 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 11.21.46 AM.png VIDEO: Chrysler orders community college to crush rare Dodge Viper

    Students at a community college in Washington are fighting to save a rare Dodge Viper given to them by the Chrysler Corporation. The company now says it must be destroyed for legal reasons.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo