Scott Walker medical fund

Our dad is sick and needs our help.  This is a very personal story and is being told with my dad’s blessing.  It took a lot of courage for him to take this step and allow me to share with you. 

 Mental illness is chemical – not character.

 My dad is one of the most amazing people I’ll ever know.  He had a tremendous banking career.  He literally went from the mailroom to the boardroom over 30+ years in banking.  He was the youngest Vice President in the history of the bank in Arizona.  He inspired hundreds of employees along the way. 

He coached all of our ball teams and made my childhood and my siblings a great one.  He is a role model for my brothers with the love he shows our mom.  He has served in several bishoprics at church and in the community on boards.

Then at the age of 49 he had his first heart attack and then another at 51.  In between those heart attacks he survived cancer.  In 2014, they did quadruple bypass.  What you might not know is that 4 hours into his recovery, he was bleeding and they re-did surgery- essentially 2 bypasses in the same day.

The number one risk in this surgery is infection.  The number 2 risk is depression.  The depression risk is intensified if the patient was experiencing mental health issues prior to the surgery.

Mental health.  That is the rest of the story.

My dad has always taught us that adversity will come.  That it never makes an appointment   It’s not what happens to you – it is how you react to it. 

When my dad was 11 and growing up in Phoenix – he was a carefree baseball all-star riding his bike and having the time of his life with his big brother (my Uncle Bill).  Then one day – it all changed.

He was brutally assaulted physically and sexually by the next door neighbor.  His childhood was taken from him by a selfish and filthy person.  He kept the incident private from his family for 25 years.

His recollection of depression dates back to just after that incident.  He began to find “defense mechanisms” to mask his hurting heart.  He made choices over the next 10 years (including alcohol) to cover up the pain and despair.   

 When he was 22 he found the gospel and decided to clean up his life.  It was in this therapy that he learned that the assault didn’t cause the depression.  That the depression was a chemical imbalance that was genetic.  That the life trauma was a different kind of pain and had to be dealt with differently.  That he was experiencing PTSD on top of the depression.

Over the next 30 years he has struggled almost every day with this horrid disease of depression.  He describes it as though he has a grey mule that follows him everywhere he goes.  In public he has always been seen as a high energy go getter.  He can solve problems with what appears to be ease.  He is one of the most gifted public speakers you’ll ever hear.

In private he is hurting   If you’ve ever seen the tv commercial for a depression Rx where they carry a little smiling face on a stick – that is my dad.  My mom has been his biggest supporter along with his brother and my dad’s best friend from childhood (my “Uncle” Mac) and my late aunt Sheri.

Mental illness affects millions of Americans.  The social perception is generally not very kind and the insurance providers still find ways to discriminate against these patients.  If things were right – we would see depression and mental illness like we see a broken arm.  Sadly, we don’t.

After the bypass my dad went back to work.  He noticed right away that his energy wasn’t there and that he couldn’t fake through the depression.  It only got worse.  He began to hear hallucinations and obsess on his death.  He went as far as to drive his car into an abandoned garage and plan ending his life.

In August of 2016 he and my mom decided he needed to quit his job and focus on his health.  They had followed the brethren’s counsel and had a years salary in savings.  Sadly, after a year (and after all that money was gone) he didn’t feel better.

They have filed for Social Security but were denied (can you say mental illness discrimination) and are in the middle of an appeal.

 Last fall it was so bad that he was hospitalized for a week.  In that week he was introduced to a new doctor that began to work on his medications.  He has had 2 additional hospitalizations earlier this year.  He is so good at keeping his mental illness private – most people assumed it was his heart.

 My dad’s next steps?

 He isn’t getting better.  His doctor has recommended him for ECT treatment.  This is a sophisticated process (nothing like you see in the old movies).  The electrical current is administered while the patient is under anesthesia.  My Uncle Bill (who is a doctor) believes it is a good and right choice.

The insurance doesn’t cover all of the expense (can you say mental illness discrimination).  The only facility that they’ll partially cover expenses is in Lexington, KY about 100 miles away.

The Bishop has been generous.  My uncle Bill and uncle Mac have been generous too.  That help only goes so far.

How can you help?  Contribute towards the treatment.  It would mean a lot to me and my siblings if you could help out.

 1.       If you can – please hit the link below and contribute towards the expenses that won’t be covered by insurance

2.       Please pray for my dad

3.       PLEASE SHARE this post with your friends with your endorsement of my dad if you feel that way.

I know he has tons of life left.  He has always said he wants to golf in his 90s.  I want him to be happy.  Please help us out.  If this treatment is successful – he wants to go back to work someday.

Any proceeds gathered in excess of the treatment will be used for living expenses and to get a book published that my dad has been working on.  The title appropriately captures his situation:  My heart is broken – The connection between coronary heart disease and mental illness.

-Ashlee and Alli Walker
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Scott Walker
Flatwoods, KY

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