BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Shada’s back aches more and more each day as she literally bears her family’s burden. Clothed in a black robe, she strains under her husband’s weight.
Murtada, a 29-year-old taxi driver, was once a proud husband and father. But one morning last October, he kissed his family good-bye and set off to work. Within hours, their world was shattered. A bomb blew off both his legs above the knee.
"I lost consciousness for a bit. I knew I was wounded," he says.
"I was under the car. I saw my legs were severed, just flesh and skin. I was holding my legs, bleeding."
Helpless, the daily burden is now on Shada. She carries Murtada when he needs to be moved. She can’t even leave the house because of the constant care she provides her husband.
"I want to work, but I can’t really because then who will stay with my husband?" she says. "Who will take him to the bathroom? My first concern every morning is my husband."
The attack did to Murtada what roadside bombs, rocket fire, and sniper shootings have done to thousands of Iraqis. Since the war began, the estimates of wounded Iraqis have ranged from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people.
According to Iraq’s Health Ministry, 25 percent of the wounded have lost at least one limb.
Murtada is one of these grim stats, and his life is now a nightmare. He has stumps where his legs used to be and hasn’t been able to get prosthetics. He moves around by lifting himself with his arms, riding in a wheelchair or being carried by his wife.
Life has forced Shada to tap into a physical and emotional strength she did not know she possessed. Their 3-year-old son helps care for his father.
One time, Murtada admits his thoughts turned dark. "I was thinking, ’Is this really going to be my life?’ And then I was thinking about my son and how I can’t provide for him, and then I began thinking about poisoning myself."
This small family lives in a small rented house in a Shiite neighborhood in western Baghdad. Shada has endured many tough times amid war and conflict. Her brother was shot dead and her father died because of poor health care.
Neighbors have helped the family financially, and Shada tries to make ends meet by selling gasoline on the street.
But the circumstances have forced the man she relied on to rely on her.
"I look at him like a baby, with the needs of a baby," she says. "Nobody but me can help him. I cannot go to the markets because of him. I am asking people for help because I cannot leave him alone in the house."