Ryan's Dream

My son, Ryan, has always loved photography and videography so when he got a job at an aircraft company, hanging out of planes on a harness to film the plane ahead of him, we weren't surprised.  Although he really shows off his talent with artsy photos, especially black and white's (which he used to develop himself in our basement dark room), he loved the excitement and thrill of filming from the air.  At 35 years old, he was very happy.
Until January 5, 2015. 
I got a call around 10:00 pm that he was having severe stomach pain.  Thinking it was something minor, like gas pains, I told him to put a heating bag on his stomach and let me know if it gets better.  I laid down in my bed with a sick feeling that something more was wrong and immediately went to his house.  I knew right away we were dealing with something more severe and took him to the ER.  The pain in his stomach was so severe he was squeezing his brother's hand to try to take his mind off of it.  The doctor took x-rays and told us his pancreas was very diseased and rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. 
We then found out one of the bile ducts in his gall bladder was completely blocked off.  We were told the pancreas is full of little 'packets' of material which are dispersed when you eat to help break down and digest your food.  His packets were breaking open inside his pancreas and eating it up. 
In order to give his pancreas a rest and stop producing the chemical they gave him massive amounts of Ativan to keep him nearly comatose for over a month and no food or water.  After being in bed for so long, he developed DVT's (blood clots in his legs) so a filter had to be inserted so if one of them broke loose it could not go up to his lungs or heart or brain.  He also had severe lung issues since he couldn't breathe deeply.  The respirator helped with this but not enough.  A tracheotomy was performed and a feeding tube was placed in his stomach. 
When he was stronger and some of the inflamation was better, the doctor sent away for a stent to be inserted into his pancreas to help with drainage.  These stents are made of metal and are custom made to the patient's circumstances and I firmly believe Ryan would not be with us today without the care he received from this magnificent doctor. 
On March 17, 2015 he was strong enough to be moved to a regular room.  Unfortunately he had only been there for about an hour when he complained about his stomach being upset and that he could taste vomit in his mouth.  I ran out in the hallway to a nurse that was walking by and told her something wasn't right and to please come in.  She took one step into the room and yelled Code Blue and everyone came running.  He had vomited and aspirated (the liquid went down into his lungs) and stopped breathing since he was still too weak to even turn his head. 
We lost him for 4 minutes.  The 4 longest minutes of my life.  After they got his heart beating again, they could not keep him breathing on his own so after they tried everything else, they turned him over on his stomach and then he finally could breathe by himself. 
Needless to say, we went back to ICU. 
Finally in May, 2015 he was moved to a rehab hospital where he stayed until July when we brought him home.
When Ryan arrived at the rehab hospital he could not turn himself over, stand up or walk and he spoke with much hesitance.  The doctors there were great as he learned to stand up, walk and dress himself.  It progressed slowly but surely. 
Unfortunately the damage to his brain was more serious. He could not remember where he lived, how old his sons were or his birthday.  Rehab helped with this too but it is a much slower process than the physical part.
He has tremors and nerve pain in his feet that he will probably have for the rest of his life.    It has been almost 3 years since Ryan became ill and his short term memory loss is evident.  When he becomes anxious or tired it gets worse.
Needless to say, Ryan is now considered disabled and receives disability from the government since he cannot work. 
We have left the walkers and wheelchairs behind but there is a part of Ryan that we will never get back.
Everytime we are outside and a plane goes over he mentions how much he misses flying and taking still pictures and videos.
Unfortunately, that equipment can be very expensive and his disability is not enough to cover the cost. 
I would love to see him get back into his first love again and that is why I am writing this - if anyone could find it in their heart to help this 38 year old man find some of the joy he once had and donate to his camera fund, I would appreciate it so much.
A mother never thinks about something like this happening to her son but it is a reality for us. 
My worry for Ryan now is not his physical ability - I worry about anxiety and depression.  Getting him out of the house doing something he is so good at and that he loves so much would be so good for him. 
The doctors tell us that Ryan's recovery is pretty much complete so we are trying to help Ryan adjust to this new normal that is his life.
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Lynne DeThample 
Goddard, KS