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This fundraiser ended on 01/31/12

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This is the John Cohagen, Sr. medical expense fund, Please help provide for the medical expenses that insurance will not cover.

My father, John Cohagen, suffered a severe brain lesion in early 2010. While doctors have yet to diagnose its cause, its effects have been severe.

The lesion formed at the base of his brain stem, beneath his cerebellum, effectively cutting off communication between his brain and the left side of his body. Thankfully, his faculties remain intact... he's the same old John:). However, in addition to losing the use of his left arm and leg, he also lost the ability to swallow, speak, and cough, requiring doctors to permanently place a tracheostomy.

Most recently, Dad almost lost his life to a severe colon infection this past June, the result of the long-term use of antibiotics to combat constant lung infections. Doctors were forced to remove his colon, and he now has a colostomy bag requiring hourly care.

While he has since regained some use of his left arm and leg, he still cannot care for himself, and requires round-the-clock attention. When insurance permits, he receives treatment at an inpatient rehab facility. Unfortunately, this care can be (and has been) denied at any time, meaning my Mom, Sharon, is then responsible for his care at their home, including: bathing, medication, hourly breathing treatments, tracheostomy care, tube feedings, transitions between his bed, chair, and vehicles, colostomy care, etc.

Simply put, this is too much for my Mom to handle on her own. She needs daily assistance from a trained medical professional, a service their insurance does not provide.

Please help us pay for the specialized, time-intensive care Dad requires.

If you wish to mail a check rather than contribute online, please make checks out to my parents, John and Sharon, and mail to:

Josh Cohagen
PO Box 8935
Waco, TX 76714

Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers, and for any assistance you can provide!

Josh Cohagen & the entire Cohagen Family

P.S. Below is a copy of an article dad recently wrote for his church's quarterly newsletter.

My Story

My name is John Cohagen. I am 63 years old and have been married to Sharon for 38 of those years. I have three children, all married and 3 grand children. At age 62 I was looking forward to visiting my kids and enjoying the grandchildren. This, however, was not what God had in mind for me.

My story begins in March 18, 2010. I had finished working for the Census Bureau and was waiting for the next phase to start. The first sign that anything was wrong was on a Thursday evening when I had trouble holding onto my tea glass. I dismissed this as tiredness.

The next morning Sharon went to a garage sale and I was alone at home. When I made a trip to the necessary room, my legs felt weak. I could barely get off the throne and realized something was terribly wrong. I was able to reach my cell phone and immediately called Sharon and told her I needed to go to the Emergency Room. There was no panic, but she came home quickly. It took all the strength I had to “walk” to her car.

The thirty minute ride to Tyler seemed to take forever, and by the time we reached the hospital, I was too weak to get out of the car and required a wheelchair and assistance to get inside. I was immediately treated to the usual slow service we have come to expect in the E.R. My speech was slurred and my right eye was drooped causing double vision. A stroke was suspected. Sharon’s sister brought me a hamburger because I had not eaten in nearly six hours. That is when I found I could not swallow, and had to give up eating the burger.

The next morning I could not eat pancakes, even when cut into small bites. So the next thing I knew I was fitted with a feeding tube and a tracheotomy. I was later told that I could have easily died two different times during the procedures, and was resuscitated once. During the time I was knocked out for these two procedures I was haunted with terrible dreams where the doctors and nurses, even my wife were conspiring against me and I could not differentiate between dream and reality. I gave the ICU staff a terrible time because I really believed I was being held captive and being experimented on.

After many tests, MRIs, x-rays and blood tests, it was determined that I had some kind of lesion on my brainstem. More tests could not determine if the lesion were viral, bacterial or cancerous. A biopsy was required, but because of the location of the lesion, it was very dangerous. The doctor was hesitant but hoped that the biopsy could pinpoint the nature of the lesion. He prepared the family for the real possibility I would not pull through the operation or suffer greater damage. I wrote the following message to the members of my family.

This is to all of you: Never have I known such love. Sharon was great in making all the decisions. Josh and John gave great comfort. Jeni gave sympathy. Robin gave help with communication. I know the risk I am taking, but I feel it is worth it to see you all again. I am happy to do this to take the chance to get better. Just know God has healed me already through His love. God is with you. If I die, I know God will be faithful to my family. Keep strong.

The brain surgeon did a great job, and the sample was reviewed by doctors in several different hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic. None of them could positively determine the cause of the lesion, but a least there was none of the reports that found cancer cells in the sample. I was given antibiotics and steroids.

I began therapy and made progress toward being able to walk with a walker and I was sent home for my wife and home health care for several months, during which time it was determined that I needed a femoral bypass to improve the circulation in my left leg. So back to the hospital I went to prepare for that operation, only to find an infection in my intestines. After being sedated and observed I was pronounced to have gone septic and the family was again prepared for my demise. My lower torso and upper thighs were bloated.

I was out cold when I had exploratory surgery, and the following day I had surgery to remove my colon, appendix, and gall bladder. My colon weighed 36 lbs. A healthy one is supposed to be only 6 lbs. I was given a colostomy bag as a reminder of the occasion. I was kept under sedation until I had the bilateral femoral bypass.

Fortunately, I was unconscious during the period of 4 days when I had the three surgeries. Unfortunately, I again had wild dreams, all linked like a series. Women had devised a scheme where they kept their husbands in a cheap “quack” hospitals and collected insurance and government payments on fraudulent charges. The husbands were neither allowed to die nor to recover. The dream became my reality for what seemed to be an eternity. Every time I went to sleep the dreams picked up where the last one left off. I finally was taken off of sedation and I had to re-adjust to my true reality. I think the dreams were a glimpse of hell, where a person is made to suffer, but not allowed to die.

Now I am back in therapy. I have no voice, have no swallow, and have to sleep on my back all the time. I drool constantly and have to get help getting in and out of bed and my wheelchair. I have learned to hate food commercials because they make their food look so good and I haven’t a bite of anything solid in the last eighteen months.

It is easy to be discouraged, but you have to believe that God is in control and has a plan for your life. It is not my prerogative to question His methods, rather I must keep alert for the opportunities He has in store for me. On September 14, 2011 I returned home for my wife to care for. I am scheduled for three days each week of out-patient therapy. I am scheduled to participate in a training seminar related to neurologic injury and therapy.

In spite of all the pain and time spent in the hospital and rehabilitation, I feel that God has blessed me in many ways. He has spared my life at least five times in the last year and a half. The lesion on my brain stem has almost disappeared and there is a possibility that my brainstem may rebuild the nerve connections I lost. Greatest of all He blessed me with a loving wife and soul mate who has been by my side throughout this whole experience and a wonderful family that, in spite of their own busy lives, have been here for me when they could and kept me in their prayers when they could not be at my side.

I look forward to the day when I get my mobility, voice and swallow back, so I can share my experience with others a encourage them when they are in the hospital and recovery. I appreciate the blessings that God has bestowed on me through my church family and their prayers. I like to believe if you pray for rain, you should be sure to carry an umbrella. God has healed me already; I’m just waiting for my body to catch up.

Your Brother in Christ,

John R. Cohagen
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