I'm starting this campaign for Robert Whitlock. He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 22. Last June when he was 33 years old the following real life nightmare began. Today, he is an amputee.
---A little about him---
This is not his first bout with death, The summer after 4th grade his appendix ruptured and he spent 49 days in 2 seperate hospitals including a 12 day stay in the ICU with a fever spiking at 106.7. He is a self taught guitarist since the age of 15. He has always had an extreme passion for music. Especially metal. He was a smoker for 15 years. During Hurricane Sandy, he finally quit when he discovered vaping. What was a tool towards a healthier lifestyle became a hobby and then his very own business when he started Dripbox Modz LLC out of his grandparents garage in the fall of 2014.
Late June 2016 he had a flare up of his Crohn's disease and was admitted to Community Hospital in Toms River, NJ. They located an abscess, and a partial blockage of his small intestine. They inserted a JP drain to remove the abscess, and tried to medically treat him. After 2 weeks they advised him that they would be transferring him to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. Thats when all hell broke loose.
I'll try to explain this to the best of my ability.
Upon admitting him, his condition started to detiorate rapidly. They inserted a Picc line in his neck, which is basically a long term IV, and he was placed in the ICU. We were there to visit and left around 7pm. Shortly after, the picc line became infected and Bobby went into septic shock. His blood pressure plummitted and by midnight the hospital was calling saying they needed us to get back there right away! We were told more than once to prepare for the worst, and that he may not make it to tomorrow.
To raise his blood pressure the medicines administered to save his life and keep his vital organs going also caused an adverse reaction. As I understand it those medicines prioritized bloodflow to his major organs, but as a result the bloodflow to his extremities was limited. And because the bloodvessels in your extremities are so small, and the lack of circulation for so long, Bobby developed Dry Gangrene on his hands and feet.
Bobby awoke 9 days later with no recollection of the days lost and in shock of his situation. He had a feeding tube in his nose, a breathing tube down his throat, he couldn't speak, a urinary and rectal catheter, there were about 13 different IV drugs being administered, his hands and feet were fully bandaged, and he was on dialysis. He also noticed a slight hearing loss in his left ear, as well as a blurry spot in the center of his vision out of his left eye. But he was alive!
-This is during that first 9 days were Bobby was sedated and on dialysis fighting to stay alive.
Pictured below is the early onset, when there was still a posibility treatment could work and that circulation to his extremities could be restored.
Bobby spent the next two and a half months at RWJUH bouncing between ICU, CCU, MICU, and the occasional regular patient floor before some problem or infection arose beinging him back to a critical care area of the hospital. At one point he went almost 30 days without food or water by mouth. He had to be tested by a specialist to see if he could even swallow a teaspoon of water let alone anything else before he could be allowed anything by mouth. That first test was a Friday. He failed. He was so thirsty that he literally cried. He had to wait until Monday to retake the test.
He was bed ridden the entire time and as such lost about 50lbs. He had a few bald spots on the back of his head from constant bedrest. Bobby was unable to walk, or do much of anything for himself. The realization that he would at some point lose a portion of all his fingers and most likely not be able to continue his business, or ever play guitar again with the proficiency that he once could weighed very heavily on him. At this point he was also diagnosed with depression.
That was just the beginning of what has been the last 13 months of Bobby's ife. I'll try to summarize the best I can the next 10 months.
-He was transferred late September to Care One at East Brunswick, NJ to begin rehabilitation. (pictured above) He was there approximately 3 weeks before developing an infection related to his crohns disease and rushed back to RWJUH. While at the rehab, they failed to take proper care or his JP drain and it became clogged. In what he described as sheer agony they had to remove the 2ft section of tubing from his abscess, while fully conscious. And then re insert a larger gauge 2ft length of tube back into the same site. Bobby has always had a seriously high pain threshold, and hearing him recount the procedure was horrifying. During this visit he also developed an enterocutaneous fistula from the Crohns. Which is an abnormal communication between the small or large bowel and the skin. He was hospitalized 2 more months. Where he spent Halloween, his 34th birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. At this point he was down 98lbs in 6 months.
-Bobby was then transferred to Rehab at Rivers edge in Raritan, NJ. Again he was only there 3 weeks before developing another Crohns related infection, and back to RWJUH. This time for another 2 weeks. During this hospitalization his left pinky toe auto amputated.
(If you can see the dotted lines, thats what they estimated would remain after amputation)
-Next it was Care One Edison, NJ. While here his left pinky auto amputated. Once again he was there approximately 4 weeks before developing another Crohns related infection that put him back in RWJUH for about 3 weeks.
-This time Bobby was sent to Care One Holmdel, NJ where he only spent 3 days. The hospital wouldnt let him stay until his surgery, so instead they shuffled him like an old book an hour away from family and friends to sit alone before a traumatic life changing surgery.
-Back to RWJUH for scheduled surgery March 24th 2017 where all 10 of his toes were amputated. Bobby wore size 11-1/2 sneakers. Now, without inserts, he's actually a size 5.
During this stay his right thumb auto amputated. It was like this for months before finally falling off.
Exactly one week later he underwent a second surgery to repair the enterocutaneous fistula that developed in his stomach and finally remove the JP drain that had been in his side for 10 months. By now the drain was replaced not once, but twice. (suggested every 3 months) In the same horribly painful procedure as described earlier. This was an extremely stressful surgery for his family. On top of everything he was already dealing with, there was a chance that once the surgeons got inside things could be beyond repair and Bobby would need an Ileostomy. Thank god that wasnt the case, and surgery went better than expected for both procedures. He spent another 2 weeks recovering before being transferred again to rehab for the 5th time.
-This time Bobby was sent back to Rehab at Rivers Edge, to recover.
-June 14th, he was back at RWJUH for same day surgery at 10:30am to remove the gangrene portion of his left hand. Luckily it went flawlessly and a little over 12hrs later he was back in his bed at rehab sound asleep, and recovering.
Fast forward to present day. Bobby's feet are almost fully healed and he is able to walk unassisted. He has gained back about 50lbs and is currently a healthy 185. His left hand is almost healed, and the process for a fully functional robotic prosthesis has just begun as of late last week.
(This is what's possible with the i-digits quantum)
(These are current 7/23 photo's)
Bobby's last and final surgery to remove the gangrene portion of his right hand will take place in the next few weeks. For now he continues to participate in physical and occupational therapy, and is getting stronger everyday.
Its been a horrific 13 months, and he just wants to go home. He hasnt slept in his own bed since June 23rd, 2016. He desperately needs some type of normalcy, and to be able to regain his independance. A physical rehabilitation center is no place for a 34 year old man who previously had a job, a business, a girlfriend, a home, and a life. It's mentally and emotionally exhausting for him. I personally want to thank all of his close friends that made countless visits to his bedside, whether in the hospital, or any of his rehab facilities. You'll never know just how much your time helped not only him, but his entire family. Thanks so much for taking the time to read his story.
PLEASE consider helping in anyway you can. Any and all donations whether big or small would be gretly appreciated. His Family thanks you so very much.
This GoFundMe is for a pair of i-digits quantum from Touch Bionics for Robert Whitlock. As well as transportation to and from Ohio for fitting, electrode placement, and functionality testing. As well as anything he may need now or once discharged from rehab.
Updates soon to come.
AND PLEASE, SHARE THIS ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE YOU CAN ACROSS ALL SOCIAL MEDIA. BOBBY DESERVES HIS LIFE BACK!
- Jolene Heidi
- Hudson Wheldon
- maria schinski
- SHANE STEPHENSON
- Karen Scuorzo-Serenkin