"She was incredibly sick; she should have been in the hospital. She didn't leave my side," Wood remembers. "I can't fathom somebody would care that much about me."
Spending so much time together sick at home allowed their relationship to develop faster than some healthier couples might expect. Less than six months into dating, Wood proposed.
On that day, Wolfson was tired and wasn't feeling well. They were talking about life and what the future entailed for them.
Wolfson asked him a question she had many times before, "Are you really sure you want to keep me?"
Wolfson's sickness was irrelevant to him, Wood said. He didn't hesitate when he pulled the engagement ring from his pocket and said, "The question is, do you really want to keep me?"
She said yes.
In October 2012, Wolfson woke up and felt like she had been kicked in the stomach, she said. They went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that can cause severe pain and is a disease that gets worse over time.
By December, she weighed just 80 pounds because eating was extremely painful. Doctors put her on a feeding tube and told her she would be on it for the rest of her life.
She decided she wasn't going to settle for that kind of life, and went to the Internet to find out more information. Soon, she met people who had a surgery called a pancreatectomy, which removes four organs, including the pancreas. It's one of the most complicated surgeries dealing with the digestive system and is administered only in a handful of centers in the U.S., according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
It's the last option for people who have chronic pancreatitis, but Wolfson's condition had progressed so fast it was necessary to do it, she said.
But the thought of having her appendix, spleen, gallbladder and part of her stomach removed, along with her pancreas, was terrifying.
"It was a huge decision to do this surgery. [Wood] helped me through that," Wolfson said. "The one constant is him. Our relationship and love is a constant, and I rely on that when everything around me is changing so quickly."
The surgery was scheduled for Jan. 13, so they took all their savings, put their belongings into storage, and got an apartment close to the University of Minnesota Medical Center, where Wolfson would be treated.
The day came, and Wolfson had the surgery, along with an islet auto-transplant, which is done to prevent the patient from getting diabetes -- once the pancreas is removed, the body no longer has a source of insulin for regulating blood sugar. The islet cells are isolated and transferred back into the body, via the liver, where they can continue to produce insulin.
Wolfson did so well during the 14-hour surgery the doctors turned off her insulin tube. A couple of days later she was walking.
"Doctors and nurses have told me grown men get this surgery and don't get out of bed for a month. It's a painful surgery. It takes out four organs," Wood said. "She's incredibly determined to get better. Whatever she has to do, she's done it. She has this drive, this determination, I've never seen anything like it in my life."
Wolfson was allowed to go home Jan. 24, but the real test has only just begun. Every four hours, her blood sugar has to be checked, and if it's not at a certain threshold, she needs a shot of insulin.
Wolfson's mom has been there to help Wood take care of her. There have been complications -- a fever, pneumonia, a collapsed lung -- which have meant more trips to and from the hospital.
"The sleepless nights, the back and forth to the hospital -- it's all worth it to get her eating again, smiling and laughing," Wood said.
If all goes well, Wolfson will slowly start to add more liquids to her diet, and in about six months will be eating normally again, Wood said, maybe even going without insulin in the future as well.
'A million ideas for the future'
For now, Wolfson is using the time resting from surgery to start planning her wedding, which has been on hold because of her illness.
"No bride wants a wedding and can't take a bite of the wedding cake," Wood said.
She pictures a small wedding with about 50 people, casual but elegant in a picnic setting. She's already asked her niece to be the maid of honor and the founders and staff of The Dysautonomia Connection make up the rest of the bridal party and best man.
One of her ideas is to have Wood and her sitting on a bench as they take their vows, because it's difficult for both to stand for long periods of time.
"I want to accommodate our health problems, but don't want to take away from the wedding," she said.
Their plans for the future include moving to West Virginia in six to eight months to live closer to Wood's family. He's excited to show her where he grew up and share all his childhood memories with her, like she did with him when they traveled to New Jersey earlier in their relationship to meet her family.
She hasn't gotten the opportunity to meet his family face to face yet, but talks to them often on the phone.
"I can tell they're amazing people, and I can't wait to become a family," she said. "It's going to be surreal to see places and people he's talked about."
"We have a million ideas for the future, a little bit of everything," Wood said. He said they might get into real estate, or start a business of their own. Wolfson is working on a novel too. They're always experimenting and coming up with new passions and ideas, Wood said.
"Even if we're feeling terrible, there's always something positive," he said. "We live by reminding each other what is right. There's always something you can remind yourself of.
"I love our life and experiencing things most people don't. It's beautiful. Normalities are overrated. I wouldn't have it any other way. It's not normal, it's never going to be normal, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
Follow Wolfson's progress by going to the Facebook page Team Kyli: Kyli's Total Pancreatectomy and Auto Islet Transplant. You can also follow Wolfson and Wood on YouTube at chronicallykyli or ChronicallyInLove.
Those who would like to do so can donate to help Wolfson and Wood pay for lodging, medical expenses and transportation at www.gofundme.com/kylipancreas.
Reach Emily McComas at emilyay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4882.