Deirdre Picchietti’s husband, David, is one of those men who never missed a day of work.
“Dave is tough,” Picchietti explains. “If he had a fever or the flu, he’d take some medicine and head to the construction site. and if he wasn’t well enough to go to his main job, he’d go work at his side job.”
But one day in 2004, after putting in 8 hours on a job site, David called Picchietti and asked her to meet him at the nearby emergency room. “Dave wasn’t able to shake this headache and he said he was having weird electrical sensations in his hands when he was picking up his tools,” Picchietti recalls.
Picchietti and her two sons learned that David had two cavernous malformations in his brain stem—blood vessels that were leaking and developing clots in his brain. During surgery, doctors discovered that the malformations were much larger and more deeply embedded than the MrI had originally shown.
The impact of the surgery was much greater than they anticipated. David had to relearn how to talk, eat and care for himself. He was told he’d never walk again. But Picchietti and her boys—Nolan and Connor—rallied around him, and today David can walk in very controlled indoor environments with the help of a walker.
And Picchietti kept moving forward—literally. She took on more responsibilities with the Lake Forest-based M&M Movers of the North Shore, owned by her mother, Maura Martinek, a job that gave her the flexibility she needed to care for her two boys—who were in fifth and eighth grades at the time.
“My mom has been my rock through this journey. She took care of our boys, the food, the bills—whatever we needed. Next to my faith, it was my mom who has kept me going,” Picchietti says.
And Picchietti isn’t the only one who has excelled in a difficult situation: Her sons are both star students who manage school, sports and jobs. Both Nolan and Connor received work-study and academic scholarships that allowed them to attend Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock. They did whatever it took to earn themselves great educations—even when it meant, for Nolan, serving lunch to his friends in the dining hall.
Nolan, now 19, graduated from Marian in May of 2009 and earned a scholarship to play soccer at St. Norbert’s College in DePere, Wisc. Connor, 15, is currently Marian’s star quarterback while managing all honor classes and his work-study job.
“It sounds corny, but so much good has come from all of this,” Picchietti says. “We made the decision that this was not going to break up our family. We focused on what was important and that made all of us strong.”