Near electrocution can’t stop this marriage

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! When it came time to cancel the caterers and call the wedding guests with the bad news, Howard Hull and Kristen Word couldn’t do it. Love, not logistics, was the reason they were getting married. “Marriage isn’t about some big production and a lot of fancy stuff; it’s about love,” the bride said Wednesday from the doctors dining room at Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks, where she was getting ready for her wedding with her mom and bridesmaids. Howard, the groom, was standing outside in the hallway with his best man, an IV line carrying medication into his left hand to keep the circulation going. The apprentice line mechanic for the Burbank Water and Power Department touched a couple of electrical lines a week and a half ago that were supposed to have been de-energized. They weren’t. More than 4,000 volts of electricity entered Howard’s body through his chin and exited through his left hand, basically blowing off two fingertips. Which is why he was standing here in a hospital hallway on his wedding day instead of in the backyard of his mother’s Glendale home with 40 invited guests and plenty of flowers and other fancy stuff. The couple could have postponed the wedding until Howard got out of the hospital in a week or so. But when you’ve been zapped by 4,000 volts and are still around to talk about it, it puts things in perspective, Howard says. “It makes you realize some things are important; others are not. Kristen showed me incredible love and strength through all this. “She only reaffirmed my desire to marry her right now, on the day we had planned. There was no reason to wait.” Because marriage isn’t about some big, fancy production. It’s about love. And love doesn’t care where you get married. When you work in a hospital burn center, good news is like a cool breeze on a miserably hot, smoggy day. It makes you take a deep breath and smile. The veteran nurses at Grossman Burn Center have seen more than their share of pain and tears, so they were more than ready for laughs and wedding cake. “Once we decided to go ahead with the wedding here, it was a matter of making sure it was OK with Howard’s doctor and pulling it all together in time,” Kristen said. The couple looked around Howard’s hospital room and figured they would have to cut the guest list in half to cram everyone in. “I told them to go ahead and invite everyone they already had invited; we’d find the space,” said Herb Altman, who has operated the center’s hyperbaric oxygen chamber for the past 34 years. Herb and the nurses threw Howard a bachelor party, then helped the staff set up chairs and carry in flowers and cake to the conference room. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, 40 family members and friends of the couple — none of whom had ever been to a wedding in a hospital conference room — stood and applauded as Kristen walked out the door of the doctors dining room on the arm of her dad, ReaganWord. “Nothing could stop this day from happening, not even electrocution,” wedding officiant Alan Katz said, beginning the ceremony with a laugh. Fifteen minutes later, Howard Hull and Kristen Word were officially pronounced husband and wife. After the reception, they returned to Howard’s hospital room and found the nurses had filled it with white balloons and electric candles. “They brought us dinner and let me stay way past visiting hours were over,” the new bride said Thursday morning. Smiling. — Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) [email protected]last_img

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