This journal is an attempt to share with you what you experienced
during your recent critical illness. Because you were unable to recall this period
of time, this summary will give you a daily account of events.
Saturday June 26 1999: (approx: 12 mid-night)
You were admitted to the Shelby Hospital, and Im certain you
can recall most of your stay here. Your condition began to decline around 9 p.m.
Saturday evening with an increased shortness of breath and a greater need for oxygen
support. Despite an order from Dr. McHugh to transfer you to Mansfield, you stayed
at Shelby Hospital until approx 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, when you became very
critically ill. Little did we know, in less than an hour and a half you would no
longer be able to breath on your own.
Mom spent the night with you Saturday, and was instrumental in
taking steps towards initiating the care you needed. (Go!! Mom!!)
Sunday June 27 1999
You arrived at Mansfield Med-Central at approx 5:45 a.m. via
ambulance. (Mom in the ambulance with you of course!!) Dad and Deanie
following behind you. It was becoming more and more obvious to each of us that you
were in "trouble." You were taken to room 3044 in the (CCU) Coronary Care
Unit. Several people were waiting for you there, Respiratory Therapists, Nurses, Lab
Technicians. At this time you were receiving Oxygen at the highest possible level,
and still you continued to decline. You asked over and over where the Doctor was,
and we reassured you he was on his way.
Dr. S. Vaidya arrived and immediately identified your need for
ventilator support, as all other means to support your breathing had failed. It was
approx 7 a.m. on Sunday morning when you were intubated and placed on 100% ventilator
support. Because of the urgency to intubate you, the doctors were unable to
completely sedate you for the procedure. It took about eight people to hold you in
place. Dr. Bokar, (anesthesiologist) assisted Dr. S. Vaidya with your intubation,
because it was a difficult one due to the build up of mucus in your throat. These
two doctors saved your life, and we later found out that no one in the room taking care of
you initially, thought you would survive. You were so unstable, that life-flighting
you to another facility wasnt even an option. Mom, Dad, Dawn, and Deanie were
all at the hospital just outside your room. We knew we had to do something, and
prayer was now the only means of helping you. Grandma called to your room.
Father Brown, from ST. Peters arrived quickly after Harry Turner told him of the
urgency. We immediately called Aunt Sue and Uncle Arnold, so prayer was initiated
immediately. You were very unstable much of the day Sunday, we were given your
official diagnosis of Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, ARDS. Dr. S. Vaidya
listed your progress as poor. Our prayers for you continued. You were placed
on a drug called Tracrium which paralyzed your entire body, and Ativan and Morphine were
given frequently to keep you sedated. You were lifeless except for the rise and fall
of your chest. Harry Turner visited you today.
Monday June 28 1999
You showed no improvement on Monday, but our hope was kept alive
because you hadnt worsened. You remained on many antibiotics. We were of
course still in shock about everything. Today Mom asked that Dr. Denton consult with
Dr. P. Vaidya(infection Lady) to make sure you were getting proper antibiotics.
*Important sideline, Mom went out to the nurses station and paged Dr. Denton herself
for this consult. Dr. P. Vaidya came to see you that evening. She too agreed
that you were seriously ill. She told us to pray very hard, and we did. She
even had her own kids praying for you. Bato was here to see you today.
Tuesday June 29 1999
Today you had problems with your heart. Because you were
receiving so much fluid you developed a condition termed Pulmonary Edema. Your heart
was working so hard your actual heart rate was in the 170s, this was not something
even a young heart could tolerate very long. Dr. Denton consulted Mid- Ohio Heart
and Dr. Fahmy placed a Swan-Ganz Catheter into your heart, to be used to actually measure
the pressure, and fluid levels in your heart. We were told again your chance for
survival was not good, and again we prayed, and told everyone we knew to pray with us.
Today was when Dr. Denton told us you had a 40% chance of survival.
Wednesday June 30 1999
Today your condition really didnt change much. Your
heart kept beating pretty fast, but it wasnt as fast as yesterday. We decided
to go to your apartment to pick up your truck, and just generally check up on things
there. Mom, Deanie, Joelle and Aunt Helen came with us to help. I kept
thinking to myself as we walked through your apartment that you still had so much to do
with your life. I put the thought of you leaving us out of my mind, and prayed like
I never prayed before. "God, please guide the doctors to restore your
health." I stopped in front of the picture of "Jesus Laughing"
in your dining room, and begged God to let you smile at us again. Aunt Sue and Uncle
Herman came today, and stayed until Friday. Fr. John came today, and wants a ride on
your Harley Davidson when you are better.
Thursday July 1 1999
Today the Doctors said your chest x-rays appear to be a bit
improved. This was music to our ears. You could open your eyelids just a bit
when we would call your name, but other than that you just laid there. We started a
picture collection of you on your was on Tuesday, and by today people had brought in lots
of good pictures of you. We wanted everyone to see how handsome you are cleaned up.
Uncle Granville and Aunt Geneva came from Michigan today. They got lost , and
met a complete stranger who got in her car and led them to the hospital. This
stranger was indeed a guardian angel, she told them to let you know that she was praying
for you. As the days passed our prayers continued for you.
Friday July 2 1999
Today Dr. S. Vaidya and Dr. P. Vaidya cam early to check in on you,
they were leaving for the weekend. They both said they were feeling more confident
in your condition, and felt you were beginning to respond to the antibiotics. Dr.
Denton would be your Doctor until the Vaidyas return on Tuesday. Dr. Denton
reduced your paralyzing drug to ½ of what it was originally. Within about two hours
we noticed you moving your arms and legs and opening your eyes more. Just to see you
move again was excitement, but you got pretty restless at times. Aunt Sue and Uncle
Herman left today. Brad came from Georgia at about 12 midnight. You started
moving your mouth today, and you mouthed to Dawn "help me". As always our
prayers and concern for you continued.
Saturday July 3 1999
Dr. Denton arrived early in the morning and stopped your paralyzing
drug altogether. He said he expected you to be quite a challenge because of your
young age and size. You very much were a challenge. You moved a lot and yes
you even tried to pull out your tube. Just ask Mom, Dad, and me. Uncle Arnold
and Aunt Bard came today from Ky. You sat up in your bed, which transformed into a
chair, but would quickly doze off. You continued to receive your doses of
Morphine and Ativan to attempt to calm you. Like most people receiving tube
feedings, you were blessed with extreme diarrhea. Mom and I spent many hours on poop
patrol. You reached for Zach today and held him in your lap. I felt in my
heart that God had started to answer our prayers. Uncle Arnold prayed over you and
placed a prayer cloth on your chest. Prayer and Gods love had gotten you this
far, and we knew youd have a long road ahead. And again our prayers continued!
Brad came back Saturday to spend the night with you, even after you kicked at him
and Mom Friday night.
Luke its important that you know Uncle Bill, Aunt Helen, Jill,
Joelle, Aunt Sue, Uncle Herman and others mentioned in this journal gave us immense
support during the touch and go days of your illness. I dont know what we
would have done without their presence. Grandma and Grandpa DeSalvo headed the
prayers from the Catholic end, while Uncle Arnold had the Baptists at it. If prayer
had ever moved mountains, it surely was evident to us now!!! You were beating the
odds and God was allowing you to do that.
Sunday July 4 1999
As I recall Sunday, I recall a very busy, hectic, emotional day.
You wanted up and out of your bed, your tube feedings continued to send you gifts
of brown, but we all survived. I was never so worn out when I left the
Hospital that day. You were never alone, we all want you to know that. Even
when you were completely sedated, someone from your family, usually Mom, Dad, Dawn, or
Deanie were with you. Every heart breaking moment of thinking of losing you was
worth the joy of seeing you come back to us, and you were. Slowly but Surely.
Your medical condition was quite uneventful today. The doctors
had started to change your ventilator settings some days ago, but it seemed everyday now
you were required to breath a little bit more on your own, and you were doing well, and of
course our prayers continued.
Monday July 5 1999
Today I had to go back to work. I havent worked since
last Saturday when all of this began. I figured if you needed I would be just
upstairs. Your daily chest x-rays had continued to show significant improvement.
You really were getting better. A tremendous weight had seemed to be
lifted from our shoulders. Again your ventilator settings had been decreased and
recovery was now a matter being discussed. Dr. Denton said you are now on the home
stretch. I think Mom has only spent one night at home since last Saturday, what a
woman!!! You couldnt ask for a better one (Mom or Dad). The
Doctors arent sure how many more days youll be on the ventilator, but
well probably know more after the Dr. Vaidyas come back tomorrow.
Tuesday July 6 1999
Dr. S. Vaidya returned today and seemed impressed with your
progress. He again adjusted ventilator settings, and mentioned that Thursday may be
a good tentative day to take your endotracheal tube out, and get you off the ventilator.
It has been nine long days, thank God for this piece of equipment that was able to
keep you alive and with us. As aggravating and uncomfortable as you may seem now,
this breathing apparatus sustained you while you are becoming more aware of your
surroundings and what is taking place now. I hope this journal helps you understand
what type of serious condition you are overcoming. Thank you God for this precious
answering of our prayers.
Wednesday July 7 1999
The Doctors still seem to think tomorrow will be the day to
extubate you. (Take your tube out) Your breathing is actually being done
mostly by yourself, the ventilator is now assisting your natural breathing pattern.
You have come such a long way. People all over are continuing to pray for you.
Im certain you can remember some of the events of this day, so I wont write much.
Thursday July 8 1999
Today is the day weve all been hoping and praying for.
Youve been on the ventilator for a total of 11 ½ days, and today you will be
free of that tube and the machine. Dr. S. Vaidya was here early, he explained his
plan and we patiently waited.
At approx. 11:55 a.m. your tube was removed. What a
welcomed moment for all of us. You did it Luke!! I will probably never again
in my life, feel such a sense of relief and emotion. Mom, Dawn and Deanie were at your
door. God had remarkably answered our prayers, and I will forever remember this, and
be thankful for his healing love.
This is my last detailed entry day to day as you can remember the
rest of your stay at the hospital.
Friday July 9 1999 Remained in CCU
Saturday July 10 1999 Moved to Coronary
Sunday July 11 1999 Fever started
Monday July 12 1999 Ct scan of Chest done
Tuesday July 13 1999 Fever remained
Wednesday July 14 1999 Blood clot noted,
Thoracentesis done, went outside for first time
Thursday 15 1999 Oxygen removed, went outside
Friday 16 1999 Discharged
Its been about 2 ½ months since you had to fight so hard for
your life. Sometimes it seems like a dream or a story someone else told me, but
because I still catch myself thinking about the details and what could have been, it snaps
me back into the reality of your physical struggle and our emotional struggle during this
I can finally read all the way through the story Deanie wrote in
this book, and I thank her for taking the time to so this for you. She covered the
details very well, but I would like to add more about my feelings and the love of your
family, and your strength during this time.
From your first trip to the ER in Mansfield on June 24th, and your
two trips in Shelby the following day. I was really worried and kept denying that anything
serious was wrong, but I could see how restless and miserable you were, and as it kept
going from bad to worse, and your respirations kept becoming more abnormal. I kept
thinking about the 22 year old girl in Arkansas that we had heard about when we were there
that that died suddenly from pneumonia. But of course that couldnt happen to you.
I felt some relief when you were admitted to Shelby hospital at
midnight Friday. A few days of I.V. antibiotic therapy and you get well. And
your back to work in a week. Well, that was short lived when you started to go down
hill early Saturday evening. By chance? I saw Harry Turner (the local Deacon
of our parish) in the hospital lobby Saturday afternoon and he came to your room and he
gave you communion, and that was good. It was almost like he ended up in your room
in preparation for what was to come. So Jesus could be in your heart during the
ordeal to follow.
Your pain was being controlled by Tylenol 3 and it helped your cough
too, but I was really uneasy about your respirations not improving. When I returned
to your room after church Saturday night, I didnt like the way you looked and acted.
After a while, I expressed my fears to the nurses, and Dr. McHugh came in, reviewed
your x-rays and lab work, and agreed with me that something more was going on and made
arrangements for admissions to Mansfield thru Dr. S. Vaidya for 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
The plan was for ICU, so why werent they taking you now? I was
frustrated, but you said you were okay./ Deanie came back later that night and
wanted to stay with you, but I had already decided that I was going to watch over you
throughout the night.
It was getting tense, you slept on and off, and I sat in a chair and
dozed briefly, but mostly watched your breathing worsen and your O2 level slowly drop.
You told me to go home around 2 a.m., and Im glad I didnt listen
to you, or I may have never seen you alive again. Things continued to get worse, and
when your respirations went up to 40 a minute (normal is 16 to 48), and your O2 level down
to 78-80, I told the nurses it was time to get you to Mansfield now. I paced the
halls back and forth past the nursing station to make sure they were working on this.
Even making suggestion to them. ( I bet they were having bad thoughts about
me, but a mother will so anything when her child is in danger) Those next 2 ½ -
3 hours were the most stressful, fearful hours I can even recall. I
didnt want to scare you, so I remained calm in front of you, explained what was
going on, and you just went along with the flow.
I called Dad and Deanie around 4:30 am or so when I knew the
ambulance would be there in a half hour. I couldnt take being alone much
longer, and I was so glad ro see them when they arrived in a short while.
Before you left your guardian angel intervened, when the RT girl
couldnt get into your artery for a blood level reading. If she had the would
have intubated you on the spot, and I dont want to think about the results of that
A lot was going thru my head on the ambulance ride to Mansfield.
I could sense the uneasiness of the medics, and he was driving as fast as he could.
Was this it? We prayed with you, you had communion, now were you going to
die? Was this all a plan? No, I wouldnt give into that one, and from
then on I trusted that God wouldnt take you away from us and put our family thru
such a great major loss.
It got harder to stay in this state of denial after we got to
Mansfield. We called Dawn, and she arrived at the hospital very quickly. We
were all there holding on to each other as we waited outside the ICU as a team of 8-10
nurses, Doctors and RT staff put you on life support. Up to this point, you were
alert and scared, but remained calm, and we tried to reassure you as much as we could.
We called Grandma and Grandpa, and then Harry, and he called a
priest in from ST. Peters that arrived shortly after you were intubated. When the
crew in your room realized he was there for the last rites, they all stood back for the
anointing prayer ritual. Fr. Brown asked me to assist him by holding the holy oil
and responding to the prayers. It was one of the most emotional things I ever had to
do, but I had to do it for you. They only allowed us in the room , but the rest of
the family wasnt far away and Im sure that God heard their prayers too.
I had a little trouble reading the prayers thru my tears, but we got thru it, and I felt
better. Then just briefly I thought about Harry, and communion and now Last Rites.
Was God getting ready to take you? No! I trust that he wont do
that. It was hard to keep my thoughts straight when you were laying there so
helpless, with a tube down your throat, taped to your face, unable to move, unable to
communicate, and the sound of the ventilator giving you the air and the O2 you needed to
stay alive. But I wouldnt believe what the eyes of the ICU staff were telling
From that moment on, a family member was with you at all times.
WE were going to see you thru this, we never left you alone. The Doctor
explained that you were purposely paralyzed so your lungs could have total rest. But
you could hear, and I know you sensed our presence and knew that you werent alone.
We talked to you a lot and told you where you were and why you
couldnt move and why you had to be on a ventilator and that we loved you. We
held your hands, we touched you, we prayed for you, over and over. All of us, Me ,
Dad, Dawn, John, Deanie and Todd. Grandpa and Grandma couldnt be there a lot,
but you were always in their thoughts and prayers. (having Granma pray for you is a
big plus, because I think she has special connections) You already know from
Deanies story about all the prayer chains and other special people (relatives and
friends) that kept you in their thoughts and prayers. Della and Vella laughed and
said you had so many prayers that God just thought he better let us keep you.
In the next day or two Deanie Brought in family pictures of you for
the bulletin board in your room. Everyone liked those. This gave you an
identity as a son, a grandson, a brother, and uncle, but most of all you as a young loving
person waiting to return to the life you had before your illness. You were so much
more than just the poor guy in room 3044!
We also kept a radio playing on low in your room in hopes it might
relax you and keep you in touch. So you would be less likely to want to let go.
We all practically lived at the hospital that first week. Dad
took the week off and Dawn and Deanie were here most of the time too. John and Todd
came when they could because they had to take care of the kids so your sisters could be
here. A lot of relatives were here too, and together we all supported each other,
like our family does so well.
Any response we could get from you would raise our spirits, and of
course, we kept thanking God you were still with us and not getting worse. At least
not your respiratory status.
When your heart rate started to increase and stayed up there for
quite a while, it got pretty tense. That was the same night they reinforced that
your prognosis was not good, and I did some pleading for a change in your care.
Its okay for a mother to break the rules when shes trying to save a
child. When Dr. P. Vaidya came in that night, she was the glimmer of hope we needed.
She talked with us, made some changes in your medications and sid she had people
sicker than you get well.
We really prayed that night and hung holy cards above your wall by
the bed, and taped a gold miraculous medal on your gown. Again we supported each
other emotionally. We also spent more time talking with you and telling you that you
would be okay. We also (especially John and I) rubbed your arms, and legs and chest
with our hands to try and give you some of our energy. We were desperate to help you
in any way we could. I think John may have spent the night that evening.
After that night, you slowly started to improve and gradually were
taken off the paralytic drug so you could move and begin to communicate with us again.
You were afraid and restless, but between our support and the Morphine and Ativan,
you were pretty good. Actually better than what was anticipated. I only had to
tie your hands to the side rails a few times during the night, so I could get some rest.
You got more relaxed gradually, and didnt finger you ET tube, but accepted
it. You started to fight to get better. You liked the bed in the sitting
position and you started to write us notes. We couldnt read them at first
because you had trouble coordinating your pencil, even threw it across the room once.
But you kept trying, and everyday your writing was more legible.
You kept us busy during this period, but we didnt care.
We were just glad you were coming back to us.
We were getting pretty good with the sign language, but finally the
tube came out , and you could speak to us again. We were all so happy (Deanie, Dawn
and I) were there for the big event, and we all cried together with you.
Even after you could talk and ask questions, and do a little more
for yourself, you still didnt want to be alone. Almost dying can be a pretty
scary experience and Im sure you had a lot to think about. We continued to
stay with you day and night.
You spent more time out of bed and started waking in the halls with
physical therapy. (remember your little substitute motorcycle)?
Finally you went to stepdown, and you can remember most of that.
I still spent most of my day with you and Dawn stopped everyday
after work and Deanie popped in and out a lot while she was at work on 4- WA. Dad
was still there a lot in the evenings, then I would come back after hours and watch a
movie with you. You werent sure about spending that first night alone, but you
did fine, even if you didnt sleep much. A sleeping pill cured that the next
The worst was over. It was a happy day when you came home.
I always like to search for meaning and purpose of why things
happen. Are most experiences the result of coincidence or is there a plan and a
sequence leading up to events? Can we sometimes have the power to control or change
the outcome thru trust in God, prayer, and believing in your own perceptions of the
situation? I think so!
Dad and I are so happy that our son is well and will have a future.
We were so scared and we thank God that you are alive. Our prayers were
answered. God gave you back to us, there must be a plan.
We know now that trust in God and the unconditional love of a family
can truly work miracles. You are proof of that.
Love and Prayers Forever,