My father Thomas L Colebank went to be with the Lord on Friday July 14, 2017. He was a husband, father, son, brother, and a great friend to so many. He worked at the Emma Kaufman Camp for many summers and Teletech for many years also. He got his Masters degree in Education and traveled through Europe and Russia in 2001. He married my mom the day before his birthday in 2002 and never treated us as stepchildren, but as his own. He made us his number one priority no matter what.
He's been sick his entire life. He's struggled with Neurofibromatosis since he was born. NF1 is a condition in which tumors cover the body. This terrible disease causes many complications. Tom had many surgeries throughout his life. He's had a tumor removed that was 8 lbs. He had suffered from strokes, blood clots, and eventually an abdominal mesenteric aneurism.
During Thanksgiving of 2013, he started having terrible stomach pain. He went to the ER and they told him he had a stomach virus and sent him home. He kept having stomach pain and returned days later where they did a CT scan which showed something in his stomach. Originally, they thought he had a tumor growing inside which he'd never had before. A couple weeks later they did a scan and it had doubled in size so they started to think it was an aneurism by Christmas. On New Years, they sent him to the Cleveland clinic who ruled it was an abdominal aortic aneurysm. They scheduled surgery on February 6, 2014.
When they went to remove the aneurism, they discovered it was indeed mesenteric instead of aortic which is incredibly rare to find. They put grafts and stents in to hold things in place. The grafts started failing and his small intestine began quickly dying off from lack of blood flow. They kept him open as they performed emergency surgery on him every day. On February 13, 2014, they finally closed him up and were going to take his breathing tube out the next day. That night around midnight, they had to go back in and he lost almost all of his small intestine and they told us he would not make it through the night.
My dad being my dad proved them all wrong. The doctors messed up many times causing worse complications and my dad would always overcome. His lung had collapsed as his chest filled with blood. They still can't tell us why it had happened to this day. He developed fistulas and had a PIC line which he received nutrients through every night. They finally closed his stomach up in September of 2014, but with the lack of small intestine, he had almost no way to fight off any infection. He spent 126 straight days in the hospital that year when it all began if you don't include every other time he went in. He would only be home for a few days and then back to the hospital for weeks at a time. My mom would visit him everyday even when he was too tired to talk. He went extremely long periods of time without eating but he still kept his faith in God and his family. He's gone septic and has almost bled to death numerous times. Ruby doctors and nurses made many mistakes which in the end cost me my father.
Earlier this week, he had a big burst of energy and I taught him to use Snapchat. I was going to take him out to sit down and eat a steak at a restaurant. That is one of the many things he hasn't been able to do since he got sick. On Wednesday night, he spiked a fever of 104 and we called an ambulance. On Thursday his blood pressure kept bottoming out and the doctors couldn't find the infection. They didn't pull his line which is a large source for most of his infections. They gave him a broad spectrum antibiotic that he is allergic to because they didn't read his chart. This medication dropped his red blood count lower than the dangerously low level he was at. From then, he started not being able to breathe on his own. They intubated while not being able to treat the massive amounts of pain he was in. They could only sedate him as pain meds would further lower his blood pressure which would drop to around 50/30. All night he wrote that he wanted the tube out so he could talk and the doctors informed us at 4:30 AM that he only had maybe a day left. Within 4 hours and 2 blood tests, his liver and kidneys went from fine to shutting down. We made them take the tube out and put him on oxygen. He was in so much pain. We watched him reach his arms up and you could feel the presence in the room. After a few minutes, he told us he wasn't scared and he did not want the pressers anymore. We made him comfortable and he was surrounded by his family and friends when he could finally walk with God.
My father was the greatest man. He had no enemies and even while we had nothing, he still tried to help anyone he could. He was so giving and he was a shoulder to cry on. He loved to teach. It was what he lived for. My dad enjoyed chicken wings, Dr. Pepper, movies, traveling, church, anything that had to do with WV (especially WVU), and he loved his friends and family more than anything in the world. He was 45 years old and had suffered for so long, yet still loved life.
We find comfort in knowing he's no longer in pain. Knowing he's in the happiest place in existence. Knowing how loved he was by everyone he'd ever met. We find comfort in the memories you all share and the wonderful things you say.
Daddy, you've fought so hard and finished the race. You've been so strong for so long and are such an inspiration and truly my hero. You loved all of us and especially mom. You've helped her learn how good people can be and what it's like to be truly happy. You've taught us how to pump gas and drive and make the best of any situation. I'm so glad you got to walk Carly down the aisle last month and dance with her. You are truly the greatest man to ever live and we all love you so so much.
The viewings will be at Hastings funeral home on Tuesday from 4-7 PM and Wednesday 10-11 AM where the funeral service will begin at 11. We ask you to come say your goodbyes and bring photos and memories to help celebrate his life. We ask in lieu of flowers, for donations to help with funeral costs and expenses. We ask that you spread awareness of things like neurofibromatosis and short gut syndrome. Thank you for all of your support and love.
Rest easy Daddy. We know you're watching over us all. ❤️