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2/9/2017 Latest post:
Welcome to Team Mahoney's CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.
It all began with a sore throat.
After several days in mid-May of having a sore throat, Dad went to the Dr. and was put on antibiotics. 3 days later, he was having a hard time swallowing and his speech began to slur. Right away, we thought: stroke. He was admitted to the St. Cloud Hospital on May 23rd, 2016. After numerous tests, he was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis; a rare autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack your muscle receptors and has no known cure. Dad has the Bulbar version, which affects the respiratory system.
They began treating the symptoms, but things progressively worsened. He was no longer able to swallow and was having a very hard time breathing, so he was put on a ventilator. When they were no longer able to continue with the ventilator, he had to have a tracheostomy and feeding tube inserted.
The following months were a roller coaster as the MG was taking a toll on his body. He was heavily sedated for many days to try to give his body time to rest and he was given Total Plasma Exchanges (TPE) that remove the “bad” antibodies from the circulation system several days a week.
After a very rough few months and lots of prayers, he was improving and ready to head to a treatment facility for rehabilitation. He was transferred to CentaCare Hospital in Monticello on August 2nd and began rehab. After 3 weeks of rehab, we got the news we had been anxiously awaiting: he was ready to go home! He was discharged on August 25th and was welcomed home with open arms by us all.
After 95 days of being in a hospital, he was finally coming home.
During the next few months, he continued his TPE twice a week and was maintaining. He was able to do limited things, including driving himself to Menards, working on projects and tinkering in the garage. The MG makes him very tired, so he has to "bank" his energy. He was able to get the RV ready for winter with Danny's help and did some ice fishing with our family.
The start of winter brought several bouts with pneumonia and he was in and out of the hospital 5 times, including over Christmas. We celebrated Christmas eve at the hospital and his brother, Jim, was able to join us for a couple of days, which was awesome!
Early January brought low hemoglobin counts. After going into the hospital again, it was determined he had a bleeding ulcer, most likely caused by the many powerful drugs he had to take daily. He was given medications and went home. A few days later, he began vomiting blood and was taken by ambulance back to St. Cloud. He required emergency surgery to repair the ulcer and we almost lost him. Following the surgery, he was very weak on his left side. More scans and tests showed he had suffered 2 strokes and he had a blood clot in his left leg behind the knee. His hemoglobin was still going up and down and the doctors believed there was still some bleeding going on somewhere and wanted to do more tests. The MG was also affecting other organs.
After enduring 8 months of illness and knowing things were progressively getting worse and would continue to do so, dad decided it was time to go home and leave things in God’s hands.
He and mom met with a priest on Monday, February 6th and dad was given last rites and a small piece of communion. He was reassured he has fought the good fight and it was time to begin his journey to heaven.
He came home on February 8th after a big send off from the St. Cloud Hospital. A lot of his caregivers who had helped him the last 8 months came to send him off and I cannot tell you how many of them told us how special dad is. He made quite the impression!
We support Dad in his decision 100% and are so proud of him for the relentless fighting he has done. Mom has been by his side the whole way and their love is truly unconditional. She is an amazing woman and we are so proud of her.
We have so many people to thank!
Mom’s sister, Rosie, for letting mom be her “roomie” all these months taking care of her and making sure she had her banana every day. You are truly an angel!
Dad’s niece, Cindy Swenson, who moved in with mom and dad when he first got home and helped him and mom get organized with meds and schedules and went along with them to his appointments.
The doctors, nurses and staff at the St. Cloud Hospital. What an amazing group of people! They not only took excellent care of dad, but made sure we were all taken care of and had what we needed. Your kindness and support will never be forgotten!
To all of our family and friends who have loved, supported and prayed for us during this difficult time, we cannot thank you enough. We are truly blessed!
As we spend time cherishing whatever time we have left with dad, we will continue to update you as often as we can.
The Mahoney family
February 9th, 2017 Dad is home at Beebe Lake! Mom drove them home yesterday after a big send off from the doctors and nurses at St. Cloud Hospital, what an incredible team! He is SO happy to be at his favorite place with his family, he is enjoying every minute. The Guardian Angels hospice team from Buffalo spent a few hours yesterday getting to know them, understanding what Dad wants for care and making sure they have everything they need for a comfortable journey. They are both feeling very peaceful and positive about the care plan and team. Dad has stopped all meds and IV's and tube feeding - he will be taking pain meds as needed to keep pain free.
Last night, Colleen cooked up a delicious Thanksgiving feast for our family. Dad started his afternoon with a sugar free popsicle and Mom's cherry pudding pie, his favorite! Dessert before dinner was definitely in order!! The 8 of us shared a beautiful meal together - Dad's first meal since May 2016 when he got sick. It was such a special evening filled with love and laughter and gratitude.
We are so blessed to have time together and that Dad has been able to make his own health and life decisions. We know many families are not as fortunate. We are standing beside him every step of the way.
Thank you for your continued love, friendship, support, prayers and well wishes.