"One of these days I'm going to the hospital and I'm not coming home, and I didn't want that to happen this time without getting married," said Chuck Johnson

By Joelle Goldstein
June 08, 2021 05:55 PM
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Chuck Johnson and his wife Jillana
Chuck Johnson and his wife Jillana getting married in the hospital
| Credit: Courtesy IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

An Indiana couple took their vows of "through sickness and health" to a new meaning when they tied the knot as the groom prepared to be put on a ventilator.

Chuck Johnson was diagnosed with throat cancer eight years ago, but only recently started developing severe lung infections, according to a video from IU Health Ball, Blackford & Jay.

Because the health condition caused him to spend more time in the hospital, Chuck's plans to marry his fiancée, Jillana Johnson, were put on hold.

But all that changed recently when Chuck was notified that doctors may put him on a ventilator.

Fearing the worst, Chuck decided to wed Jillana from his ICU hospital bed at Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital, according to the video.

"Him, being the sweetheart that he is, said, 'In case I go on the ventilator and don't come off, I wanna make sure we get married,'" Jillana recalled in the clip. "Which I thought was the most-lovingest [sic] thing he could've ever done."

"I told her one of these days I'm going to the hospital and I'm not coming home and I didn't want that to happen this time without getting married," Chuck added. "I told her she's a good woman. She takes care of me... and that's just one thing I wanted to get taken care of."

According to Jillana, she and Chuck had known each other for 39 years but didn't start dating until close to two years ago.

"We kept in touch over the years [but] it was always one of us who was in a relationship so we never really actually dated," she said in the video. "A year and half, two years ago, I ran into him in Walmart... and finally, we're both single and we started dating and here we are."

By that point, Chuck - who never smoked in his life - had been dealing with the aftermath of his throat cancer diagnosis.

"There's a flap in the back of your throat that closes when you swallow. Because of the radiation, the best way I can explain it is like a piece of bacon just curled up in a frying pan," he explained in the clip. "Mine don't [sic] close all the way."

"A year and a half ago, I started getting lung infections," he went on. "I come to find out it was 'cause food was getting [stuck] in my lungs. I spent more time in hospital at end of 2020 to 2021."

Chuck Johnson and his wife Jillana
Chuck Johnson and his wife Jillana getting married in the hospital
| Credit: Courtesy IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Due to his frequent hospitalizations, Jillana said she and Chuck were unable to get married as planned.

"He was in and out of the hospital," she recalled in the clip of her fiancé.

Amid his ongoing health complications, Chuck came up with the idea to marry Jillana in a hospital ceremony - and then spoke with the chaplain to see if it would be possible.

"He had talked to the chaplain... and the chaplain didn't want him to talk on the phone because his oxygen was dropping so low," Jillana explained in the video. "Once he goes on the ventilator, he didn't know if he would come off of it or not."

"So he had the chaplain text me and ask me what I thought about going and getting married there at the hospital," she continued. "By the time I got from [work] in Fort Wayne, home to change and let the dogs out and to the hospital, there were [about] 15 nurses sitting there."

Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnson in the hospital
| Credit: Courtesy IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Jillana said the nurses and hospital staff had gone out of their way to decorate the room and even got a boutonnière for Chuck and a "beautiful bouquet of flowers" for her.

"They were as excited as we were," she recalled. "The chaplain had everything ready... they were so awesome and wonderful to us. We really appreciate everything we did."

Once everything was in place, the couple finally said "I do" from Chuck's bed. The emotional moment was captured on video and showed the pair holding hands while sitting beside each other.

RELATED VIDEO: Couple Holds Wedding Ceremony in Hospital NICU Next to Their Premature Daughter

"They say for better or worse and I think she got the worse part first," Chuck said of their marriage before his possible ventilation. "I just hope I get better so that we can live the better part."

Though their new life together is off to a challenging start, Jillana said there isn't anyone else she would want to be married to.

"He makes me happier than I've ever been in my life," she said in the video. "He doesn't give himself near enough credit. We need more good men like Chuck in this world."

"He's a wonderful man and he's been there for many people in his life," she added. "He doesn't deserve what he goes through but he's going through it, so we'll get through it."