This is my dad. He’s my best friend. The type of dad to wake up at 3 in the morning to take me ice skating before a full day of work. When I was a kid, he used to read me chapters of Harry Potter books until I fell asleep. As he would tip-toe out, I would wake up and cry that I missed it so he would sit back down, go back six chapters, and re-read every single word to me. Growing up he taught me patience, he always supported me, and loved me no matter what I did. He is quite literally the best person I have ever known.
On Tuesday, March 16, 2017 he walked himself into the ER after experiencing some confusion which we later discovered was due to having suffered a massive stroke. By Wednesday he was unable to walk, talk, or eat. After being in a coma for two weeks, he was moved to a rehab center for treatment where they attempted to help him regain his swallow and some of his motor abilities. Unfortunately, insurance only covers rehab for so long and he was eventually moved to long-term care. Since then, he has lived at the nursing home. For almost three years, my mom and I were at his side every day. We performed care ourselves, maintaining his physical and occupational therapy in an attempt to prevent further decline and to give him as good of a life as we could.
2020 began as a hopeful year for him. We found a treatment facility offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy five minutes away from his nursing home. An absolute miracle as he struggles with long drives due to a mix of overstimulation intolerance and his inability to swallow. In January of 2020, he began his hyperbaric oxygen therapy five days a week, in which a bus came to pick us up and drove us to his treatments, we would do some exercises, and then the bus would drop us back at the nursing home. A roughly five hour trip in total. Things were looking promising for him.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is used as a non-invasive treatment for strokes. The idea is to deliver oxygen at high pressure to increase the amount of oxygen carried by the blood to damaged areas, thus providing a greater opportunity for healing. HBOT offers benefits that include increased blood flow, encouragement of tissue regeneration, decreased inflammation, promotion of stem cell mobilization, aiding in fighting against infection, revitalizing mitochondria, and enhancing the body's natural ability to heal.
Unfortunately, when COVID hit, we were forced to stop treatments and I was no longer allowed to visit him in the nursing home. I last saw him in March of 2020 and a month later, our worst nightmare occurred and he contracted COVID. I was convinced that this was it for my dad. I fell to my knees in despair not knowing if I’d ever see him alive again. The fear that we lived with for those few weeks were the worst of my life. But my dad is a fighter. He managed to survive COVID but has noticeably weakened since.
My dad has been wheelchair bound for four years. He can’t enjoy his favorite meal, drink a sip or water, he can’t scratch an itch, but he’s in there. If I work for hours I can sometimes manage to get a smile out of him. My dad is 79 now. His condition is not well and his years are limited. But he is the best person I have ever known and the least deserving of such a sad circumstance. My ultimate goal is to bring my dad some comfort and quality to his final years of life. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure to his condition, but with the help of HBOT, I hope to bring him hope, allow him the possibility of being able to lift his arm to hold his wife's hand, the ability to remember his friends and family, an opportunity to watch his grandkids grow, watch me walk down the aisle, and even dabble with the possibility of him regaining a means of communication in any form.
Our main obstacle is not driving two hours to take him to his appointments, getting his wheelchair on a bus, or coordinating a five hour trip for treatments five times a week. Our main obstacle is that each treatment costs $225. The recommended amount of treatments for maximum benefit is 40. If you have known my dad at all, you know him to be a wonderful person. An absolutely brilliant man, an avid book reader and lover of classical music. A master bird watcher who loves his wife, his kids, his grandkids, and his camera.
If you can help at all in this journey, we as a family would be so beyond appreciative. Words cannot describe how badly I want to give my dad some of his life back and I would be so excited to share his growth with all of you.