Friday, April 18, 2008

Signs in Decatur point to marriage in trouble

Signs in Decatur point to marriage in trouble
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 04/19/08

The signs of Rob and Karen Byers' marriage have been bleak the past three months.He's been living apart from her and their 1-year-old son.Last week, morning commuters near Emory University passed dozens of these signs posted by Rob Byers. "I made a big mistake," he says of what led to their separate homes in Decatur.They've been married for 11 years, college friends for a decade before. They were the quiet pair who always hung back at parties.

He's 38 and still in his head too much.She's 39, angry and confused by him, long wanting more emotion from him.In an effort to come home, he dreamed up something really big.
"I'm going to surprise you tomorrow," he told her by phone one night early last week. "And you're really going to like it."
The first yellow signs were stuck under her car wiper blades."Rob Loves Karen.""Karen I'm Sorry."Perplexed, she drove off — along the same route she takes every morning to her favorite bagel shop.

The same six words shouted from telephone poles along busy Clairmont and North Druid Hills roads. Along this popular commuting route to Emory University, the posters burst in the color of war ribbons.
He was wrong: She didn't really like it.At all.Have a loved one's best intentions ever ended up making you even madder? Then you know how she felt.

"Totally freaked," she said. "I felt like it was advertising to the world we had problems. I felt embarrassed that that was thrown out into the world. These are things I have only told a handful of close friends."
She tore down the first few, but "there were so, so many and the baby was in the car, I knew I was getting nowhere."She thought back on their pattern: his bad timing, her disappointment.
"It was like when he proposed," she says. "I was weak and in bed with a cold, and he got me out of bed and I was in my bathrobe when asked me. And I was furious that this is what I would remember forever."

He was at work when she called to vent about the posters: "If that was a surprise, it was really lame!"Her view changed after she talked to friends, who urged her to see his gestures as sweet and romantic, if misguided.

He did express how he felt, just not the way she ever imagined.Making something private so public opened up her eyes to a hidden truth."People have been so supportive and opened up," she says. "Everyone has problems even though they act like everything is fine."
Even though they don't know exactly where their marriage is headed or how they will get there, after all this, they realize that neither wants to give up.And both agree that's a good sign.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sperm of soldier killed in Iraq frozen for widow

Sperm of soldier killed in Iraq frozen for widow
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A soldier's widow has succeeded in having sperm taken from his body and frozen four days after he was slain in Iraq, though medical experts said it's highly unlikely she would be able to bear his child.
Sgt. Dayne Darren Dhanoolal, 26, died March 31 when an explosive detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad. He had talked often with his wife, Kynesha, about having children, according to court papers filed by her lawyer.

On Friday, a federal judge in Columbus, Georgia, granted her request for a temporary restraining order preventing the military from embalming the body until samples of Dhanoolal's sperm were extracted. The samples were taken later that day and are in the custody of a medical representative for the widow, who is hoping to be inseminated, even though fertility experts said the procedure almost certainly would not work with her late husband's sperm.
"It's not viable," Dr. Andrew McCullough, associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine, said Monday.

Sperm maintain nearly normal movement and some function for the first three hours after a man's death. After that, their movement and viability declines, according to the Web site for the department of urology at Cornell University's Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College.
Dr. John Park, a fertility expert and assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said there have been reports of viable sperm being retrieved up to 36 hours after a man's death. But he said it is "highly unlikely" any viable sperm could be retrieved four days later.

Recovery of viable sperm appears relatively uncommon after 24 hours post-mortem unless the body has been cooled, the Cornell site says. It was not known what, if any, precautions were taken to keep Dhanoolal's body sufficiently cool before his sperm were extracted. Despite the odds, Kynesha Dhanoolal persuaded the judge to allow the sperm to be collected. Dhanoolal did not have a will but had signed a military form designating his mother, Monica Brown, to handle the disposition of his remains.

His widow asserted in court papers that Brown initially did not agree with her wishes. However, "There's no battle anymore," Kynesha Dhanoolal said Monday after speaking with her mother-in-law over the weekend.
The widow's attorney, Frank Myers, said emotions got in the way of reaching an agreement earlier. Now, "I think everybody is on the same page," he said. Brown did not return two calls to her Killeen, Texas, home on Monday. As of Monday, no agreement had been filed with the court, which will determine who gets possession of the sperm.

"Hopefully, the peace will last and everybody will be happy in the end," Myers said. Sgt. Dhanoolal was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, in west Georgia. Fort Benning spokeswoman Monica Manganaro said she was not aware of another time where the widow of a soldier stationed at the base made such a request.

"This is strictly a personal choice of the family and not something we're involved with," Manganaro said. Dhanoolal's body was to be flown Monday from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Texas, where a funeral is planned this Friday, according to the widow's family. The widow's mother, Yvonne Watkins, said her daughter hopes to use her husband's sperm for artificial insemination as early as this summer. "We're trying to honor my daughter and Darren's wishes," Watkins said. "All of his comrades and anyone who knew them knew he wanted children."