This GoFundMe has been created for the benefit of my father, Gary Fiegel, and sister, Faith Fiegel. I kindly ask that you take some time to consider this journey as you walk on your own. It's a bit of a long and winding road, but I implore you to know that it's worth the read.
Please tell someone you appreciate them today.
Over the past few months, our family experienced life-changing events that constituted the need for this GoFundMe fundraiser. There are two important stories; first, let me share my sister’s.
Faith's story: My sister has been battling – and continues to battle – an unknown condition that has taken away her ability to walk and function normally as she previously did on an everyday basis. As a result, she has not been able to work, complete her semesters in college, perform her original music to audiences in her journey as All Things Brielle, or progress with any of her plans that were slated on her calendar since the end of April of this year.
Faith has been stricken with acute chronic pain that has forced her to remain bedridden, dealing with specialists from all fields in search of what is attacking her body. With a confirmed celiac disease diagnosis in 2018 that has shown up as inactive in this particular case, physicians and specialists alike have been perplexed by the rapid deterioration of her body’s physical functions. She has been in and out of hospitals – consisting of 3 different health networks to this day – where stays have lasted 3-4 weeks per visit. She has been transported 3 times by ambulance, and extensive and exhaustive testing has been – and will continue to be – done in the areas of genetic, neurological, urological, hematological, rheumatological, immunological, OB/GYN, and other disciplines of medicine.
My sister is 23 years old. She is incredibly bright with a work ethic that rivals the best in all of her ambitions. Ranging in her positions as a superintendent of Central Moravian Church’s Sunday School to nannying for multiple families to engaging in studies to pursue entertainment law to protect artist rights, Faith has strived to exceed expectations in every moment, setting standards that emphasize excellence and empathy over perfection and arrogance. Undoubtedly, her life turned upside down; what we hoped would be an immediate diagnosis with an appropriate cure has evolved into the most significant marathon of her life, thus far.
Over the first few weeks in August, Faith will be working proactively in an acute rehabilitation facility that focuses on regaining and stabilizing her mobility while pushing to become functional again in her everyday life after nearly two months of bedrest and various pain medication regimens. We still hold hope for a diagnosis, a treatment plan, and a full recovery plan in this timeframe. As one of her older brothers, I share this story and pictures with you in the hope that it demonstrates the love, compassion, service, and dreams that I hold for a better, brighter future for Faith beyond the medicine. This is Faith’s story, and it will continue; now, I wish to share Dad’s.
Dad's story: In late June, Faith was located up at one of the health networks in our hometown Bethlehem, PA and, during this stay, my Dad – whose first name is Gary – experienced a sudden congestive heart failure episode, wherein fluid filled up his lungs, heart, and other organs to the point where he could not breathe, following a years-long battle with coronary artery disease after undergoing his first catheterization in the mid-2000s and open-heart surgery in 2012. He was hospitalized at the same hospital that Faith was located in, and he was stabilized with his heart operating at about 20%. At several points, Faith was wheel-chaired down to see Dad, unsure of what would happen next. The cardiac physicians worked with Dad closely to ensure his stabilization and send him home to be closely monitored over the next few weeks, knowing that there was no definitive timeframe of any future episodes, attacks, or potential strokes but hoping for some recovery of the heart to discuss possible options.
In mid-July, Faith was transported from our hometown of Bethlehem to one of the best hospitals in the country in Philadelphia, PA for her third stay in a hospital within the last three months. After several long discussions, my Mom & Dad decided to move closer to Faith, booking a hotel room three blocks from the hospital for – what we hoped – would be a mere week or two, minimizing Dad’s movement and stress. Dad stated that he would be able to make the approx. 1-hr. trip down to Philadelphia, and I remember giving him a long hug before he and Mom left, knowing that this was his call.
As Mom and Dad entered their hotel to check in, Dad collapsed suddenly, experiencing a massive heart attack. He stopped breathing and was without a pulse – lifeless – for 38 seconds. A former military medic just so happened to be checking in to the same hotel at that time and heroically performed CPR on Dad, saving his life until the paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital three blocks from the hotel – the same one Faith was now located in.
That phone call is not a call any son wants to receive from their mother.
After two successful incredibly high-risk catheterizations, Dad was, thankfully, stabilized with his heart still operating at about 20%. With an incredible and trusted cardiac/heart failure team at this hospital, Dad worked to develop a plan that promotes the possibility of recovery for his heart after this attack. With daily self-monitoring, a strict medication regimen, and a “life-vest” – a defibrillator in the form of a vest that will attempt to shock him back to life if he experiences another heart attack – he is holding an attitude of hope and faith – one that he has often exuded in the darkest hours – in one of the most critical moments of his life. He hopes to see the day that Faith walks out of her treatment and many more days ahead.
Our family is unquestionably changed by the aforementioned events. We live in complete gratitude of the heroic support and care of the healthcare workers from top to bottom, and we wish to express our deepest thanks to them and any and all support that has been sent our way through friends, extended family, and others during this time. Our apologies extend to those we haven’t been able to keep updated consistently – please know we will do our best, we send you peace, love, and good vibes, and we hope to talk to you soon.
Recently, I travelled down to visit Dad, Mom, and Faith in Philadelphia after Dad had settled into the hotel room after being discharged from the hospital and Faith was a bit more stable in the hospital. Though I may not have shown it on the outside, I was overwhelmingly grateful to give my father another hug and talk with him, knowing that, at the car one week earlier, it could’ve been the last time either of us saw each other.
The message: please tell someone – whether a loved one, colleague, acquaintance, or stranger – that you appreciate them today; it may be the last time they hear it.
Mom has not only been grappling with the trauma of nearly losing her husband/best friend while her daughter remains hospitalized, but she has attempted to gain some semblance of the financial costs that accrued as a result of these traumatic events, knowing these costs may continue to grow.
The request: any help – big or small – to aid in setting up a stable base of funding to support Dad and Faith as they heal is immensely appreciated. The funds will go towards hospital bills, rehabilitative services, and anything tied to the recovery of Dad and Faith. If you’re inclined, please feel free to share these stories and message through social media, links, or email. Rather than sending everyone in different directions, we thought this platform may best serve as a centralized point for any and all support for our family at this time. A sincere thank you will be sent to you for your support, and we will keep you all updated on their progress moving forward.
Please stay healthy, safe, and well. Tell someone you appreciate them.
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Be kind. Be happy. Be yourself.
With peace, love, and good vibes,