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Thread: Well I'm back! My Amazing Story

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Lake Placid, Florida
    Posts
    490

    Default Well I'm back! My Amazing Story

    I am a longtime member that has been inactive for a long time.

    I appojize in advance as this is a long read but the only way to tell my story.

    Three years ago on August 10, 2015, was a day that began with a quick trip to the emergency room at Crittenton Hospital in Rochester Hills, Michigan. I had woken up around 05:45 AM like any other Monday morning but planned to take myself to see my PC physician for a dry cough that was keeping me from resting well at night. I jumped into my normal routine shaving the taking a hot shower. Once I got out of the shower the first sign that I was having a problem began. I could not catch a full breath. I was struggling to get enough air at all. I called out for my wife to come assist me. It was all she could do to help me get dressed. She wanted to call 911 for emergency help but I was being very stubborn ask her not to, I would later come to know that this was a huge mistake. I ask her to take me to Crittenton's Hospital emergency room. Our neighbor worked in admitting at the hospital and called ahead to let them know we were on the way. It was only a 15-18 minute drive to the hospital but before she could get me there I was getting much worst and she could hear gurgling sound coming from my lungs. Not a good situation at all.

    This was the start of a 105 day continuous battle to save my life. Upon arriving at the emergency room the staff was awaiting on our arrival and sprang immediately into action. Upon the initial examination the diagnosis was thought to be congestive heart failure and treatment for this was started. I immediately showed signs of improvement but this was short lived. My lung were filling with fluid and showed as completely white out on the x-rays. The oxygen content of my blood was rapidly falling. The emergency doctor had me intubated but this still could not keep the oxygen level high enough. They decided that the only way to have any chance to keep me alive that day was to get me transferred to another hospital that had a fairly new piece of equipment called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine. This machine is a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream. There was only 3 hospitals in Michigan at this time with the technology. The ICU doctor called Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak Michigan to see if one of their their ECMO machines was available. It was and they ask for their life fight helicopter could be sent to pick me up and make the transfer from Crittenton to Beaumont. The doctor did not believe I would survive a 30 minute trip by ambulance. The life flight helicopter was already out on another mission and the doctor and nurses in the ICU had to keep me on the ventilator and supplement it with hand bagging me until the helicopter crew could complete their current run and return to base to pick up some specialized equipment that was needed for me and then return to transport me. I was unconscious during this phase but have been told of all of the events by my loving wife that never left my side but for 1 day during the entire 105 day ordeal whens she had eye surgery herself.

    The helicopter arrived at Crittenton hospital late evening for the 6 minute flight to transport me to Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak a large hospital with over 1000 bed capacity. The hospital had put together a group of specialists doctors and nurses on staff and was standing by awaiting my arrival. It was a very intense scene as no one was sure what was wrong with me. I was placed on one of the ECMO machines and the survival rate for this machine alone is very low under 10%. After getting me all hooked up I stabilized somewhat what but was still in very critical condition. After 3 days of testing me for anything and everything anyone could imagine I was again heading downhill again and the ECMO was unable to keep my blood oxygenated. The doctor leading the group told my wife that they were going to make a last ditch effort to save me by placing me on 2 ECMO machines in tandem. This was a very risky procedure that had only been preformed a few time with a very low success rate. There was really no other options so they made the attempt and again I began to stabilize.

    This allowed the large team of doctors from every discipline imaginable to keep running test and try to find the problem that was about to take my life. The nephrologist (kidney doctor) believed that I had Anca Vasculitis. This is a very rare condition where my bodies immune system has began to create anti-bodies that were now attacking my vital organs, lungs and kidneys. He began a treatment using the drug Rituxan which is more commonly used in cancer chemotherapy by strongly suppressing the bodies ability to create these anti-bodies. This was administered in conjunction with me receiving plasmapheresis, full time dialysis, being tube fed and still intubated with several full time nurses in my room at anytime I was still in intensive care but was recovering and improving everyday. I spent a total of 38 days in intensive care. I was finally doing well enough for the long hard road ahead in in-house physical rehab. I was moved to another wing of the hospital to begin rehab.

    I had been on a blood thinner called Heparin which was administered intravenously and I needed to be taken off this medication and placed on Warfarin which can be administered by tablet form. To make the switch, called bridging, I was placed on both drugs simultaneously slowly lowering the Heparin while increasing the Warfarin until I was completely off of the Heparin allowing me to freely do the physical activies required in rehab. The third day in rehab I awoke to a awful headache. The duty nurse gave me medicine for the headache but it only got worst. I had a subdural hematoma (bleeding of the brain)
    I was taken for emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on my brain. I was then taken to neuro intensive care when I was again flat on my back for an additional 30 days. Finally I was well enough to again go to in house rehab but got blood clots in both legs and has to again go to surgery to have a IVC filter placed in one of the veins coming from my legs back to my heart to keep the blood clots from reaching my lungs or my brain causing death. This delayed the start of rehab for 13 more days. The IVC filer then clogged with so many blood clots that I was again taken to surgery to have the filter cleaned out. I worked as hard as I have ever to regain enough strength to be allowed to go home and complete my recovery at home and in out-patient rehab.

    I was finally released from the hospital on November 23,2015 after a total of 105 days. The past 3 years have been a uphill battle and I will never be 100% but I am able to function pretty well and do not have any long term mental issues and have regained most of my mobility.

    I am very happy to have survived this ordeal. I credit my recover to the overwhelming grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The tireless work of the Doctors and Nurses at Crittenton Hospital and there unwillingness to give up on me. The amazing flight nurses and crew of the life flight helicopter crew that came to my aid knowing the odds were stacked against my survival. The amazing doctors, nurses, technicians and staff at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak who never wavered in there fight to save me and get me back to the best possible recovery possible. And Last but not least my amazing wife Janice who stayed by my side the entire time giving me the love and human touch that was so dearly needed for me to make a recovery, she stood by my side those countless hours not knowing what the future lay ahead for her or myself. Also my family and friends and the countless other people that were praying for me. I was on prayer list all over the entire United States and many place all over the world.

    The Lord God was listening and gave his grace to me. I have been called a miracle boy by many of the doctors that treated me during this ordeal. I beat the odds not once but three times. I am truly humbled by the out pouring of support I have received from so many people.

    I am now on disability and have moved to South Centeral Florida with my amazing wife of nearly 46 years. I am now well enought to get around with a walker or even a cane. I have dimished lung capacity and limited stamina but still love to shoot and with my wife and we plan to make it a frequent activity again.

    Humbly yours,

    Tony "Ol'Coot"
    Tony,

    Check My Photography Website
    PhotographicEndeavors.com

    Army National Guard Veteran 1972-78
    NRA Life Member
    Kahr PM9
    Kahr K40
    Kahr CW380
    "Defend freedom because it is not free"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Wet & Wild Pacific NW
    Posts
    27,922

    Default

    Damn buddy, that was a tough time that don't seem to be entirely over even now.

    I'm glad you survived and are hopefully on a upward and improving track. 105 days in a hospital is brutal all by itself, no matter what's wrong with a person.

    Stop in often for a visit.

    I have a co worker that just retired and moved to Winterhaven Florida, I think that's kind of in the middle. She highly recommended retirement.
    Pondering it myself.

    Glad your back.
    http://bawanna45.wix.com/bawannas-grip-emporium#!
    In Memory of Paul "Dietrich" Stines.
    Dad: Say something nice to your cousin Shirley
    Dietrich: For a fat girl you sure don't sweat much.
    Cue sound of Head slap.

    RIP Muggsy & TMan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Lake Placid, Florida
    Posts
    490

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bawanna View Post
    Damn buddy, that was a tough time that don't seem to be entirely over even now.
    Bawanna,

    Your statement is correct. My condition is so rare that there is not much research on it. I am on the leading edge of the studies with most of them not dealing with someone who has surived for 3 years after the attack. The best information and think to date is for me to stay on a regment of the Rituxan every 6 months with very through blood test every 3 months to see if there is any sign of the bad antibodies increasing in my system. A relapse would almost positively be fatal.

    I am very thankful to have surived and been able to send these additional 3 years with my family and friends. There is no guarantee of tomorrow for any of us and I try to live life to it's fullest each day.

    Winterhaven, Fl is about 65 miles due north of my home in Lake Placid. Florida is a wonderful place for retirement. Great weather, nice people and affordable living. Lake Placid is a small ntown of about 2,500 but we are just 20 mile south of Sebring it a bit larger with a population just over 10K. Both cities are in Highlands County total population around 100K. We have a lot of retired people and a influx of snowbirds in the winter that at least double the popilation starting in October through March. We have very good health care available to care for all of us old retired people.
    Tony,

    Check My Photography Website
    PhotographicEndeavors.com

    Army National Guard Veteran 1972-78
    NRA Life Member
    Kahr PM9
    Kahr K40
    Kahr CW380
    "Defend freedom because it is not free"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    5,846

    Default

    Glad your back and God is good. Been through a small battle of my own recently (nothing like yours) and have come to realize it’s not our situation that defines us it’s our response to it, whatever the end result.

    You do know that now you have to post daily so we 3 know you’re ok, right?
    Otherwise we’ll worry.
    The only thing better than having all the guns and ammo you'd ever need would be being able to shoot it all off the back porch.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    211

    Default

    You are a blessed man. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Lake Placid, Florida
    Posts
    490

    Default

    Thanks and I will try nto be an active member again.
    Tony,

    Check My Photography Website
    PhotographicEndeavors.com

    Army National Guard Veteran 1972-78
    NRA Life Member
    Kahr PM9
    Kahr K40
    Kahr CW380
    "Defend freedom because it is not free"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Lake Placid, Florida
    Posts
    490

    Default

    Ken,
    I am indeed a very blessed man. I tell my story to hopefully educated and inspire others to never give up!
    Tony,

    Check My Photography Website
    PhotographicEndeavors.com

    Army National Guard Veteran 1972-78
    NRA Life Member
    Kahr PM9
    Kahr K40
    Kahr CW380
    "Defend freedom because it is not free"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
    Posts
    10,718

    Default

    What a survival story, Tony. It's great that your wife was by your side the whole time, as much as possible. I hope that you get stronger and can continue shooting.

    Welcome back, and thanks for the update.

    Wynn
    USAF Retired '88, NRA Life Member. Wife USAF Retired '96
    Avatar: Wynn re-enlists his wife Desiree, circa 1988 Loring AFB, ME. 42nd BMW, Heavy (SAC) B-52G's
    Frédéric Bastiat’s essay, The Law: http://mises.org/books/thelaw.pdf

    Thomas Jefferson said

    “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”
    and

    "Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading".

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    882

    Default

    Welcome back!

    God Bless you!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    south east Michigan
    Posts
    2,009

    Default

    Obviously, God isn't finished with you, so keep your eyes and heart open.

    Your recovery is nothing short of a miracle.

    Keep us posted and welcome back!

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