By Dana Kozlov

(CBS) – Jeff Walls spent 30 years as a union carpenter. He was healthy and looking forward to retirement — until one mosquito bite and the West Nile Virus changed that.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, his wife must use that retirement money to keep caring for him at home.

Marisa Walls now spends 14-hour days caring for her husband of 30 years, as he continues to recover from West Nile-related encephalitis.

“I cry every day. I’m not going to lie,” the Southwest Side woman says.

The couple is focused on getting Jeff to regain skills most everyone takes for granted, like walking and eating and breathing on his own.

Walls has been a Local 141 carpenter for three decades.

His union reduced the amount of daily home nursing care for which he is eligible, and last week that coverage ran out, Marisa says.  The couple now pays a home care nurse out of pocket, three days a week, to get Jeff to rehab — costing them about $6,000 a month.

“You go through everything you ever saved for, and it’s going towards his care right now. I have to,” she says.

Marisa says the union won’t budge on the coverage, despite an appeal. The union did not respond to CBS 2’s request for comment.

Marisa says insurance would cover nursing home care but believes that would hurt her husband’s progress.

“We had plans. We had dreams, and we’re never going to do what we waited to do,” she says.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the family, in addition to this website.

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