In Loving Memory – Karen Hingson

 In Michael Hingson Articles, News and Current Events


michael and karen hingson with guide dogs africa and fantasiaIt is with a heavy heart that I send this this post with you today.

In April 1972 I attended my first meeting of the Orange County chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. It was an adventure, and I chose by attending to explore this new and for me different world. Through the federation I have been involved in many adventures and am certain there will be more. In 1976 I began an 18-month assignment from Dr. Jernigan to help Dr. Ray Kurzweil bring his dream of a reading machine for blind people to fruition.

I think my greatest adventure was not, however, directly related to the NFB. Oh, a Federationist started me down an unexpected road when, in January of 1982, he introduced me to a woman, Karen Ashurst. Little did I know that day what would happen. Suffice it to say that Karen and I were married on November 27, 1982.

Karen and I began to share not only NFB adventures but many others as well. Probably many of you are familiar with what must be the most significant one, I escaped from Tower One of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In 2011, Thunder Dog; the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust was published. If you did not know Karen directly, but if you read Thunder dog you did get to meet and know her.

Yesterday, November 12 2022, just 15 days before we would have celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, Karen passed away. Her passing was somewhat expected, but not so soon. She discovered a wound, probably from a pressure sore, in late July. Yes, a pressure sore as Karen is a paraplegic and has been in a wheelchair her entire life. As I love to say, she reads, and I push. Anyway, the sore eventually required her to go to the hospital in late July.

She returned home on August 28 with a healing wound, but with an extremely diminished appetite and a great deal of pain. Karen has suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis since January of 2017. She has been receiving infusions of medications to diminish the RA, but those infusions seriously lower her immune system. She had to stop the infusions in August while in the hospital. This was because lowering her immune system further could result in more wound infections. The other side of the coin is that it caused Karen excruciating pain. Over the past three months the pain took its toll as her appetite diminished and she couldn’t even swallow much food.

This past Monday, we put her back in the hospital. Over this week her strength and stamina dropped precipitously. Yesterday, at the suggestion of her doctors with agreement from Karen’s sister, a retired CCU and ICU nurse, we stopped life support.

Now, we move on. I write this long message as I know many of you had some contact and knowledge of Karen. I want everyone to know fully about her, what happened to her and what happens now. I intend to continue to be active where I can. I will not stop moving forward as that would be an insult to Karen and all our 40-year marriage meant to both of us. I will continue to travel and speak. I will continue my work with accessiBe. I will work as I can to support the NFB. Most of all, I will have and treasure 40 years of memories with Karen. Life goes on and it is what I intend to do as well.

God bless you, Karen. You always are and will be at the forefront of my mind and heart. For all of us here on Earth, let’s continue to move forward and grow until the entire world understands and believes that “disability” does not mean inability, but rather such is just a characteristic.

Thanks for reading. If you knew Karen and are saddened by this message, don’t be. Instead renew your conviction for equality for all of us. I know Karen today is, as Dr. tenBroek would say, “Within The Grace of God”.

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