Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

On January 18 Kris brought Mark to Mercy hospital in Muskegon because he was having trouble breathing after fighting influenza for a week.  Looking back on that day I remember feeling worried but was confident that he had this and would be home in a few days.  We had no idea how serious his condition would become and how many emotions and tears would come in the days/weeks to follow. 

He was in the ICU at Mercy for 11 days.  He had a serious case of influenza that turned into pneumonia and his lungs were in serious trouble.  He was wearing a mask with forced air for several days when his condition continued to deteriorate they intubated him.  This would help his lungs relax a little and wouldn't require him to work so hard to breathe.  He was then diagnosed with ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome).  This condition causes inflammation in the lungs.  The doctors were telling us time was what he needed.  Time for the body to heal while we impatiently waited.  On January 30 his stats dropped and the staff at Mercy was unable to stabilize him so he was flown aeromed to Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids.  This was such an emotional scary day for all of us.

Once at Spectrum they were still unable to get his stats back up so he was hooked up to the life-saving ECMO machine.  This machine pumps the blood out, fills it with oxygen and then pumps it back in.  This machine saved Mark's life.  He was on the ECMO machine until Saturday 2/24 and a lot of things happened during that time, lung collapse, lung fluid that had to be drained, and infection in his blood being the biggest things.  He has had a fever on and off for the last several weeks.  He also has a blood clot in his right leg below the knee.  They are watching this closely. 

He is still on the respirator which is doing a lot of the work for him right now.  But he is stubborn as you all know, so his first 24 hours off of the ECMO were up and down.  He wants to do things his own way so he was fighting the respirator a little and wanting do the breathing on his own.  But since his lungs are not working properly they decided to use a paralytic to allow the machine to completely control his lungs.  They were able to wean him from the paralytic yesterday and he was doing well at 5:00 pm yesterday.  Now when I say he was doing well, it means his blood oxygen is in the 90's and all of his other organs are working great. 

We have gotten so used to seeing him like this it that it has become our new normal for now.  But nothing about this is normal.  His condition is very serious.  When talking to the physician assistant yesterday she was very real and honest.  She said if we'd asked her a week or two ago if he was going to make it she would have said no.  But now her answer is yes but the reality is that it is likely he will never be the same.  His lungs will have scar tissue for the rest of his life.  Best case scenario is that he will have to take lung medications for the rest of his life.  There is also a possibility that he may need oxygen.

Many people have reached out to us and extended their support and we appreciate that so much.  What we need most is prayer.  So for those of you that have been in the know since Mark entered the hospital and for those of you that were unaware we apologize for not sharing and please don't take it personally.  We have been so overwhelmed with our own emotions.  Mark has been sedated for about 4 weeks so we are all longing to see him awake.  He does stir occasionally but is very incoherent which is probably for the best.

We will post updates here as we find out more information from Mark's team of doctors.  It will be much easier on the family to post updates here rather than sending out multiple messages each day. 

I apologize for the long post, daily updates will be much shorter now that you are up to speed.  You can post comments on this site and the family can read them and respond to questions.
Show your love and support for Mark.
Make a donation to CaringBridge to keep Mark’s site up and running.

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

Mark had a good night last night with no hiccups.  No big changes in his condition, just small changes in his meds as they are trying to wean him from some sedation.  They are doing this very very slowly so he doesn't have any withdrawal symptoms.  He has been on these medications for a long time.  Please pray that he does not experience anymore setbacks!

On a side note his nails are looking quite nice after Kris and I gave him a manicure yesterday!  :)  Good thing he was sedated and unaware of this spa treatment.

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

There have been no big changes in Mark's condition since yesterday.  They are continuing to reduce the sedation slowly.  He spiked a fever last night and they loaded him up with some ice packs and administered Tylenol.  His temp is back down now so that is great.  He has some chest tubes in for drainage so they are going to clamp them off today and see if any fluids build up in his lungs.  If there is no buildup the chest tubes will be removed in 24 hours.  

It was another day at the spa, he got a shave and a trim.  We all know how particular he is about nearly everything but we think he would be quite happy with the job Kris did.

We have gotten several questions about donations to the family and wanted to let you know that we are working on setting up a benefit event for Mark.  For those of you that would prefer to send a monetary donation prior to our event, I will be posting more information on how you can do that soon.  Thank you!

Comments Hide comments

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

When we visited him last night he was moving his head around a lot. And moving his eyebrows like he was trying to open his eyes at times. He has also mastered the scowl with his eyebrows, he still knows how to express his dislike for things.

Kris says Mark had a good night again last night. That is three in a row and a new record! We noticed yesterday and can really see this morning that the swelling in the leg with the blood clot has really gone down. Dr. Just rounded again no big changes planned for the day once again ever so slowly weaning him off sedation as well as the chest tubes coming out.

Many thanks for all of the prayers being said for our family! Thank you for the love and support! ❤️ There is room for celebration in the baby steps forward.

We are working on putting a benefit dinner together in honor of Mark and we are working on setting up a PayPal account for those of you that want to support the family financially during this difficult time. If you would prefer to mail a donation you can make your check payable to PCH Foundation and mail it to 5500 Czekuc Trail, Fruitport, MI 49415. This is a non profit foundation.

Any donations made on this site do not go the family they support the website.

Comments Hide comments

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

Kris got a call early this morning that Mark was being moved to a different room so they could use his room for more critical cases.  Although he remains in the ICU we are considering this another small victory.

She also said Mark's fever is up this morning (101.6).  They are doing cultures to see if there is an infection growing.  They are also going to take images of his left arm as it has been swollen.  They think he could have a blood clot in it.  If there is a blood clot it could be the cause of the fever.  He is very easily agitated this morning due to coming off of the sedation and it shows in his numbers every time he is poked and prodded.  He let's everyone know he isn't happy and all the staff at the hospital are quite familiar with his scowl. 

A benefit date has been chosen, please mark April 28th as the date.  More information to come.  We will also be posting more information on how you can donate to the family if you would like to show your support in that way.

Comments Hide comments

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

When we visited last night Mark had a fever and it kept going up while we were there.  When we left he was at 38.9 (102.2) but by 9:00 pm it was down to 38.5 (101.3).  Mark has different nurses now that he is in a different room and even through he is considered critical he is not as critical as he was.  Unfortunately they seem less attentive to his needs so his fever is up and down.  Kris reminds them to refill the ice packs and administer Tylenol to keep his fever under control. 

This morning when Kris arrived his fever was up to 38.8 (101.8) and he was very restless and sweaty.  The nurse told Kris he was like that all night.  She requested more ice packs for him and now he is down to 38.2 (100.7). 

The nurse also told Kris that he was coughing a lot this morning.  When they suction his mouth he coughs a lot less, so we are assuming they are doing this less frequently. 

The doctors made there rounds a little while ago and decided to want take Mark down for an CT scan.  They plan to do that at 5pm today.  They see something on his left side, they think it is fluid built up again and before they do another chest tube they want to make sure.  Mark is more alert today but going through a delirium stage.  His fever is down to 37.7 (99.8) and he is down to 45% oxygen on the respirator.  Just a couple days ago he was at 60%.  This is great progress!

If you would like to make a donation to the family you can do it the following ways:

1.  Make your check payable to PCH Foundation and mail it to 5500 Czekuc Trail, Fruitport, MI 49415. 

2.  Make a payment via Paypal, choose to "Send or Request Money", then choose "to Send to Friends and Family", enter the email address and then enter the amount you wish to donate. 

Play Compete Help is a non-profit foundation so your donation is tax deductible.  We will be able to provide you with a receipt for your donation.  If you have any questions you can send an email to and Tony or Charlene will get back with you. 

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

Kris said the doctor just made rounds. They are still trying to find the source of the fever. The CT scan does show a little abnormality of the gall bladder. They plan on doing an ultrasound on that at some point today. It could be the source of the infection. The X-rays still do not show much improvement since he was admitted. Dr said that it could take up to six weeks after the pneumonia is gone before the images show any type of improvement if there is going to be. 

The doctors found a pocket of fluid the other day the they decided to drain it with a needle a little while ago.  He did well on the trip down to where they do that.  They normally have to increase his sedation a little.  Apparently it was supposed to have been done yesterday but it fell off of someone's radar. 

His CT scan revealed that he has something called pulmonary bullae.  Some refer to it as a bleb.  They say he has one that has grown or he could have many.  It is hard for them to see in the CT scan.  It these were to rupture it would cause a pneuomothorax, for those that are less familiar than I am, that is a collapsed lung.  We aren't sure what they plan to do about this just yet.  The doctor was going to have some discussions with the surgeons.  It may have to be removed.  We believe this would be done laparoscopically but we don't know anything for sure right now.

Comments Hide comments

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

The CT results are back the gallbladder is normal. The liver is a little inflamed due to the medications which is normal, due to the fact he is on so many and has been on them for so long now. His temp is down to 99.3 which is great! There are many possible causes of this fever they just haven’t been able to figure out which one it is. But it could be something simple.

His heart rate is down today, his blood pressure is doing better and there is fluid actually coming out of his lungs which is a good sign. They suction him often but haven’t been getting much until recently.

He opens his eyes often and can follow your voice. This is so exciting for us!

We trimmed his nails today and have him looking nice.

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

Mark had a good night last night and the doctor just made his rounds.  They seem to think his temperature may be caused by one of the medicines that Mark takes for his arthritis, they are going to wean him from it and see if it makes a difference. 

They are also going to try and wean him from some of the pain meds again but not so aggressively.  He didn't do well when they tried this the other day.  Everyday they are working to bring off of the sedation.  He opens his eyes occasionally today but is still in the delirium stage. 

No big news today, but we are calling that another win!!

Please mark your calendars for April 28, this is the day we plan to have the fundraiser for Mark.  More details to come. 

Donations can be made to PCH foundation.  More details were posted in a earlier journal entry but if you have any questions you can email and we will get back to you.

We thank you all for the prayers and support that you have shown our family.  Hugs to you all.

Comments Hide comments

Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

So 4 months to the date Mark was released from the hospital and is home!!!!! Yes you read that right, he went home yesterday! Hallelujah!!!

He still has a chest tube in but the doctors let him go. Can you imagine how he and Kris must feel being in their own home after 4 months!!

Thank you for all the prayers, support, well wishes and all the love!
Patients and caregivers love hearing from you; add a comment to show your support.
Mark’s Story

Site created on February 26, 2018

Mark is a 48 year old  son, brother, husband, father, bumpa and friend.  He is well known for his perfectionism and stubbornness but he also has a huge heart.  His love for hunting, camping and anything outdoors goes above and beyond anything else.  He is an incredibly hard worker and rarely sits down.  From sun up to sun down he is always on the go.  Many conversations prior to Mark getting sick were regarding him slowing down and enjoying his loved ones.  He's so driven to get things done he often forgets that we all just want some of his time. 

As many of you know we lost our dad Feb 3, 2014 and this was very hard on all of us.  Even in recent conversations Mark still had a hard time speaking of him because they were so close and did so much together.  He would tell me, "Charlene, everyone thinks I am so strong, but I am not." 

We need to pray for him to be stronger than ever.  Strong enough to fight and get through this and not give up.  Strong enough to get through everything that he has yet to go through.  He has a long challenging road ahead and he will need all of our support. 

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 )

For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)