A Sad Ending, for all of us

John's life as a teenager was atypical of today's youth. He did not drink alcohol until his sophomore year in college. He attended youth group at our church regularly and went on a mission trip to Brazil when he was 17.

John was an excellent student and wanted to become a doctor.When you look back at his life you wonder how things went from total abstinence from alcohol and drugs to death within nine years. How does that happen?

Certainly drinking is accepted socially and to excess at universities across our America. It is as if young people don't know what to do without alcohol being involved. For John, this was not good. It played into his genetics and despite excessiveness and drunkenness, it is easy to go through the world in your teens and twenty's and have those traits being laughed at rather than taken seriously by your friends.As we have looked at our own lives growing up in the sixties and seventies we think back about drinking and drugs and realize that it was serious back then (of course we all thought we were invincible) but today the problem is far scarier.

 

PARENTS, SHARE THIS WITH YOUR CHILDREN

Cause of Death

Weeks later and after many phone calls you find out you need to send money to the Medical Examiner’s Office to get to see their report. It was then that we learned that they had conducted an autopsy on John. Yes, his cause of death was from an adverse reaction to cocaine, but it was the ingredients that the drug dealers cut the cocaine with that killed John, NOT THE COCAINE itself.

John died of Anaphylactic Shock, an allergic reaction to what was mixed with the cocaine. His organs and overall body was swollen from this reaction, similar to when you hear about the fluke death of a person being stung by a bee. You say, "What are the chances they die?” as it turns out, .002% of those who suffer anaphylactic reactions die. That doesn’t seem high when you think of the chances of death from natural or normal exposure, however, when you enter the world of illegal drugs the risk is much higher due to the nature of the business of “cutting” drugs with whatever chemical is convenient. Your child is at risk beyond that of just the drug they believe they are using, but may be much more at risk of the rest of the ingredients mixed in with that drug.

Definition:

Anaphylaxis is an acute systemic (rapid, multi-system) and severe allergic reaction. The term comes from the Greek words ana (against) and phylaxis (protection).  Anaphylaxis occurs when a person is exposed to a trigger substance, called an allergen, to which they have already become
sensitized. Minute amounts of allergens may cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.

Anaphylaxis may occur after ingestion, inhalation (though this is rare), skin contact or injection of an allergen.  The most severe type of anaphylaxis—anaphylactic shock—will usually lead to death in minutes if left untreated.

An estimated 1.24% to 16.8% of the population of the United States may suffer from anaphylactic reactions, 0.002% of whom may experience fatal results.  Most common presentation is sudden cardiovascular collapse (88% of reported cases of severe anaphylaxis).

I would like you to check out a website, it is: www.thestutmangroup.com The Stutman Group is run by Bob Stutman a former DEA chief in New York City. You can read more about him on this site. More importantly learn about the drugs that your kids are being exposed to and effects that these have. Bob is a crusader against drug use and I first met him in 2005 when he was doing a seminar for business people about drugs in the workplace. At that seminar I spoke to Bob at a break and told him my story about John being addicted to cocaine right in the middle of his education at medical school. John's story, unfortunately, is not that uncommon. Bob asked if I would share the story of John's addiction and the pain and worry it put on our family, I did, and little did I know that a year and a half later I would be writing Bob with the final chapter of John's story.

You cannot change your child's behavior or your addicted spouse's behavior, only they can choose to do that. However, you don't have to enable them along. Make them take responsibility for their choices, let them suffer, pray for them and hope that they hit the bottom before they permanently hurt themselves or someone else. They may die, John did, but they also may finally be convinced they need to change and seek the help they so desperately need.

Keep in mind that addicts are not trustworthy. They will make you think you are crazy. You will listen to their stories, think they are sincere, but realize that 20% of what they are telling you is a deception or outright lies, but you won't be sure which 20% it is. You will want to help them, "just this one last time." Be careful, they will use you.

John's last months over the summer were actually the most encouraging for us as parents. John was beat up while drunk or high or both in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. He came home for what was to be a graduation party for him and two of his brothers all who had graduated at
the same time from college. Instead, John hit a bottom. With a black eye, a crooked nose and a bruised ego; John decided (with our encouragement) to head off to Florida to go in-patient in a rehabilitation center.

Finally, we had some hope! John made a good choice because he felt the pain and was suffering enough. In-Patient was a tremendous experience. While there, he spoke to us about the pain he was in; he shared the exercises that he was required to do. He spoke highly of the drug and alcohol counselors and of the people he met there that were just like him.

On the day of the visitation at John's funeral, I told hundreds of people that John had not begun drinking and using until the week preceding his death when he had a week off from the crazy hours of being a resident doctor. That turned out to not be true.  Remember the cell phone that the hospital had in storage; when it arrived at our home, a number of weeks after John's death, I went through the chat text messages. John was released from In-Patient on Sunday, June 18th, 2006. He wanted to start his residency on time and not have the hospital know about his condition. He was set to get into an out-patient program in Manhattan, not far from where he lived. A necessary plan since 18 days of in-patient isn't long enough. The lie John led us to believe was that he was sober and clean, he perpetuated that lie even when I spoke with him two days before he died; in fact, John had been drinking and using since July. The cell phone verified that as did friends after the fact.

Parents, be on heightened alert. Your child may not be using or addicted to anything but I can guarantee you they are being exposed to it. Don't take my word for it, but do seriously listen to Bob Stutman's story and lifetime of experience fighting this scourge.

 

Closing

 

We want you to know what a good man John was. We loved him so much and we miss him so much. If you are reading this and did not know John; you would have liked him very much. He would light up a room and light up your life. He would listen to you, engage with you andvencourage you. He loved people, he loved his family and everyone loved him.

John suffered with something that we all suffer with; a “wound” inside of us that causes us painvand nags at our inner being. John needed internal healing, as do we. He covered up his pain with alcohol and cocaine; we may choose food, or spending or gambling; anything that will keep usventertained and distracted from the call of the wound.

You may think that you’re better than John, you’re not; you just use different means to try to find comfort and peace and hopefully you choose ones that are less risky than John did.

Many people have come to the two of us and say, “You seem to be doing so well; you are an encouragement to me.” That’s nice to hear, but it really isn’t that we are strong; in fact, we’re very weak at times. We feel the loss of John, we still cry, and we miss him as a son and person.

There is one thing that we do have in all of this and that is Peace.

As I speak with some of John’s friends, they share with me his desire to “Find Peace,” in recent years. That is not a surprise because we knew no matter what John tried he could not find it. We tried to point him in the right direction, but in his pride he thought, “I can do it on my own, just like the other accomplishments of my life,” he couldn’t.

We would like to leave you with this to think about:

Peace is a gift given to mankind by a Holy and Almighty God. It is the product of the work of the Holy Spirit. Peace is the tranquility of order in our life. Peace is NOT the relief of stress orvhostilities. Peace will give you order and wholeness and an integrated sense of life.

Be careful about what you put in your mind because it will come out in your attitudes through your words and actions. The Apostle Paul tells us to program our minds with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. We experience peace inwardly, even though others will see it in us outwardly.

What you believe will determine what you value and those values will drive your behavior. Yourv“habits of thought” (in your mind) will set your attitude, that attitude will speak volumes to others. This is an outward expression, also seen by others.

The bottom line, “It all starts in the Mind.” What are you putting in yours? Is it really truth, or is it what you want truth to be? Your thoughts and beliefs will impact your attitudes in life and give you the ability to accept God’s gift of peace.

Our attitudes in life are affected by what we think, but true peace cannot be found through positive thinking alone because it is a gift given to us and it transcends understanding. If you want to find peace; seek the truth and accept the gift.

For more on this, go to your Bible and see Philippians Chapter 4.

It was May 5, 2004, our anniversary, when John called to tell us that he was an alcoholic and using cocaine. It was in one respect a shock and in another it was somewhat expected, at least on the alcohol side. John had alcoholism running on both sides of his family so we had always raised him with the knowledge that he had a one-in-two chance that he would be an alcoholic.

John had been on a bender of alcohol and cocaine over the weekend. He went back to Philadelphia, by himself, where he had connections from his years there in medical school. His access to drugs was through a contact called Jay S Philly. John text messaged Jay S Philly early on Saturday morning, August 26th. Jay delivered a few "8-balls" (1/8 ounce of cocaine) to John. John had checked himself into a hotel in downtown Philly and he used.  (You may wonder how I know about the drug dealer John contacted; his cell phone. When it was eventually returned from the hospital after his death it told an enormity about his life.) So John is now soothing his pain, depleting his checking account with cash advances and partying on the town. He goes back to his hotel and something goes drastically wrong. John realizes he is in trouble. John leaves his room for the elevator to get to the lobby. The hotel manager and maintenance person at the hotel see the elevator in the lobby open up, John crawls out, he couldn't speak because he was having convulsions. The hotel personnel called the paramedics; when they arrived they witnessed John on his hands and knees and then he collapsed; dead of complete cardiac arrest.

While on the way to the hospital the paramedics administered two IV drugs to try to resuscitate him, but to no avail.  At the emergency room they administered more of the drugs and used the paddles on him twice to try to shock his heart; still no heart beat. Eventually they called the effort off and John was declared dead of "An adverse reaction to cocaine."

At 4:25 AM CST the call came to our home. " Bob Jung?" "Yes." "This is Dr. P______, I am an emergency room doctor; are you sitting down?" (At this moment I knew that either John or Jim were dead. The quickness of the brain, the odds went through my mind, 75% chance it’s John, 25% chance it’s Jim) "I am with Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. Mr. Jung I have some bad news; your son, John has died. He was brought in earlier in complete cardiac arrest, I tried for a very long time to bring him back but we never could get his heart started again.  I am so very sorry. Is there anything I can do for you right now?"

These are the worst words a parent can hear. Shock; what do you do? What do you ask? You get the basics, some phone numbers, the name of the doctor and hospital again and then they put the medical examiner on the phone. You attend to the formalities of what they will do with the body and answer some questions about your child's health. They inform you that they are going to do toxicology tests but they won’t know the definitive answers for up to a few weeks. You get their phone number as well.

You cry, you hold one another, you pray and you try to help one another think about what to do next. Between the two of us as parents we cannot even function in total as one parent at this moment.
 

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Joy: "The quiet confident assurance of God's love and work in our lives; no matter what happens"