A Very Unique Couple

by Michelle Kimzey

Jim and Nancy married in 1977, both graduating with degrees in nursing. Their learned knowledge led their careers in never anticipated directions.

Jim’s clinical experience was in cardiac and critical care nursing while Nancy developed clinical skills in trauma critical care, trauma emergency nursing, and the operating room. She also developed skills as an internal nursing specialist in a hospital healthcare new IT system installation and case management. Jim advanced in nursing management positions, serving in manager positions in ICU, and then advanced to a director of multiple nursing units, an Assistant VP of Nursing, to ultimately serving as a Chief Nursing Officer for both tertiary and community hospitals.  Their healthcare experience led them outside of the hospital setting. Nancy served as national Vice-President for the Healthcare division for a national printing firm. She then moved into healthcare consulting in Emergency Nursing, and then more broadly in overall nursing and other clinical services process improvement and staffing enhancement. Jim also moved into healthcare consulting and served as a senior healthcare consultant assisting in process improvement, strategic planning, management development, and served on projects throughout the US as well internationally.

In their 43 years of marriage, they raised to wonderful, caring adults. Their son serves as an assistant visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta. He has a PhD in sociolinguistics. Their daughter serves as the customer service leader for a national pharmaceutical IT company. And in 2015 their son and his wife blessed them a grandson.

2015 also brought significant change in their life as well. Mid-year, Jim noticed he had difficulty completing tasks he had done for years in his consulting and CNO roles. Neither Nancy nor their family physician saw any changes. But as the year progressed, he noticed more changes and was referred to a neurologist. This resulted in months of testing with an ultimate diagnosis in 2016 of Binswanger Disease, a rare form of dementia. Like all dementia, it is progressive with no cure. Jim has continued to decline cognitively with short term memory, executive functions, and processing skills being the worst. These changes have resulted in many new routines and roles changing in their marriage. However, believe strongly that Binswanger Disease does not define Jim. It is a disease that they both must manage, but it is not him. Humor has always been a big part of their marriage and remains so. They can find humor even in the disease, such as how long it requires Jim to “get out the door” to leave, and humor and joy in daily life. But both have stated while they don’t like the diagnosis, their marriage was founded with a joint faith in Christ as the third member of their marriage. And their faith in Christ continues. Both believe there is a bigger purpose to the diagnosis, and they must be open to where God leads.

One of the most joyous opportunities for both has been at TCU’s Harris College of Nursing and the dementia education program. Jim has spoken to the specific dementia class, taught by Dr. Michelle Kimzey. She has sought their assistance by inviting them to serve on the advisory board of the Rethinking Dementia Center, a separate organization in the College of Nursing. The Rethinking Dementia Center  focuses on broadening education of faculty and students throughout TCU on dementia as well as service to the Fort Worth community.