Kevin Zwingle Is Worth Fighting For

Kevin Zwingle Is Worth Fighting For

Two thousand twenty quickly became a year to be remembered by all for so many reasons. It was a year that challenged our entire nation and extensively altered the course of normal. Nothing was normal. Everyone had to learn to adapt and exist in the absence of others, or at least with only those in immediate family units. For Kevin, this wasn’t entirely a challenge as he was accustomed to working alone. He had been spending a lot of time at the family farm. His father had passed a few years prior, and Kevin enjoyed working on the land.

If it involved a tractor, lawn mower, dirt or the outdoors, Kevin was happy.

Remember on Page 1 how I said Kevin innately possessed an all-in, perfectionist attitude? Working the family farm was no exception. He poured hours into shaping it up, organizing equipment and generally spending time doing what he loved. If it involved a tractor, lawn mower, dirt or the outdoors, Kevin was happy. It was not uncommon for him to come home after a 12-hour day, exhausted, only to go back the next day and do it all over again. Kevin grew up on a farm and had a special talent for knowing just about anything about everything. He would talk about something needing to be done or fixed. If I ever doubted him, he could easily prove me wrong. He has a talent, point blank and period. On occasion, we would spend time at the farm together on the weekend. I would tag along to ensure he wouldn’t work too much or too hard and of course, to spend time together.

In the wee hours of that August morning, after Kevin wasn’t able to walk back to bed on his own, we arrived at the emergency room. I was anxious, but I knew we would finally receive answers. I recall thinking how unfair, bizarre and almost cruel it was I would not be permitted to stay with him due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was an awful feeling. I put him in a wheelchair and once he was checked in, I went to work to wait and to have a distraction. I just remember thinking I’ve always been there for him, and my heart was breaking he had to go through this time alone.

At 2 p.m., he called saying he was ready to be picked up. Surprised and happy, I raced to the hospital. He was waiting outside. I quickly realized something was amiss.

When I asked him what the doctors found, he indicated not much and to follow up with our family physician. He wasn’t communicating clearly, and his leg still seemed compromised. I wasn’t happy with this. I called the emergency room to speak to the attending physician to better understand her findings. She indicated scans were clear. She said Kevin had been communicating fine with her, and he had been able to demonstrate proper leg movements during her evaluation.

Now I was frustrated.

Something was still wrong, but Kevin just wanted to go home to lie down. Lying down was the only way he found relief from the headaches. We medicated at home with over-the-counter pills. Nothing relieved the pressure. We took a trip to our family physician. She sensed blood pressure and cholesterol issues and wanted to treat those possibilities. Additionally, she recommended a neurologist referral as an aside, as she felt he was having a type of migraine – and just in case her suspicions were not the root cause of his headaches.

We were agreeable and excited as we managed to schedule a quick appointment with a neurologist that purported to be a headache specialist. Our visit with him seemed good, and he prescribed medication he claimed to offer Kevin some relief and us some hope.

The new approach did not make an impact. I was concerned as Kevin continued to travel to the farm to work. He was alone daily in this seemingly more compromised condition. The heat continued. He was driving, working on machinery, not feeling well.

At that moment, I was feeling so many emotions. I was scared, mad, heartbroken, nervous, tired.

I began noticing cognitive changes. He was not able to think as clearly as he once could. Decision making of the most basic tasks was difficult. Kevin assured me he was fine and continued to make the trip oftentimes daily, until he could not. I was persistent and unwavering with my communication to the doctor, asking for something different. I explained the headaches were continuing to claim most of Kevin’s days. I again explained relief came only when he was lying down, and even then pain never went completely away. Kevin loathed being idle, but many days it was all he felt like being. I knew this wasn’t right, and yet I didn’t know what to do other than be vocal. I continued my communication with the neurologist. He changed medication once again and assured us both we had to break the headache cycle. This medication would do it. His rationale sounded reasonable. Over-the-counter medication was causing rebound headaches. OK, I thought. I’ll buy that. The new medicine caused Kevin to be extremely lethargic and rendered him unable to perform many daily functions. His days were spent in bed with very little activity. I was awakened one night to a loud crash. Kevin had gotten up to use the restroom. Due to the medication, he got up, blacked out and had hit the dresser. He was lying in the floor with a pretty good size bump on his head. At that moment, I was feeling so many emotions. I was scared, mad, heartbroken, nervous, tired.

I helped Kevin back to bed, and we kept ice on his head until morning. I prayed he could find some relief and for the Lord to move us toward answers. We saw the neurologist that day. He adjusted his medication – with an exasperated again – and made yet another change. I continued to press for finding answers to what was wrong versus continuing to mask the symptoms with medication. He scheduled Kevin for some added scans as the new medication was having no impact on the situation.

I was sure I had offended this physician, this specialist, but I knew Kevin’s wellbeing was far more important.

One final email to the doctor was a desperate plea for answers versus bandages. The doctor responded and suggested I see another neurologist in the group for a second, or alternate, opinion. I eagerly agreed, and we had an appointment in a few short days. I was sure I had offended this physician, this specialist, but I knew Kevin’s wellbeing was far more important. I felt a sense of relief we may finally receive new perspective and possibly answers.

As we waited for contact with the next neurologist, my prayers were just for answers. Or for someone who could just tell us what was wrong.

Read more from past issues of homegrown journal

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