Who is Jon

Hello, I'm Dad.

Ever since I can remember, that's who I am.

Even as a small child, I can remember wishing for and wanting a family of my own. Every dream I had for careers, marriage, and the rest of my life revolved around my wife and children; even before I knew who they were.

I have a beautiful, smart, and loving wife; a son who is the best friend I ever had; and a daughter, who truly is a father's joy.

Each day I get out of bed, my thoughts are of how to provide the best life for them and how to protect them at all costs.

In high school, I was a very talented athlete. I was blue-chip all-American football player and 5 time state champion in the discus and shot-put. With my pick of college football programs, I chose to attend the University of New Mexico, where I played beside future Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher,, until a severe neck injury shattered my football dreams forever.

As a young adult, I tried many different jobs trying to find one that would use my skills and talents, but mostly provide me with plenty of time for my family. I worked for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, worked as a police officer, worked at multiple furniture stores, but nothing seemed to fit.

I ALWAYS had a job and always provided for my wife.

My career search ended when I started my own professional photography business in my home town of Payson, Arizona. I've always been a leader and running my own business allowed me to have both my children and my wife with me at the office and the flexibility to change my schedule to meet their needs.

I turned out to be a very talented photographer and have been fortunate enough to work with people from all walks of life, from newborn babies to an Air Force Major General.

Through it all, my family is ALWAYS first.



Before

The day my son was born was the happiest day of my life. I still remember seeing him for the first time and telling the nurse that I'd seen a lot of babies, but this one looked like me!

My wife and I had decided that one of us would stay home with the kids, at all costs, and since she was a teacher and had health insurance, I stayed home with Wyatt for the first year of his life.

Not all Dad's are willing to change diapers, bottle feed at 3AM, and put up with a screaming baby all day long, but to me it was the natural thing to do.

Soon the expenses of the new baby took its toll on the small teacher's salary we were living on and it was time for a change. I had the beginnings of a photography business running and a fortunate real estate market let us sell our home for a huge profit and move to a tiny town, about 40 minutes away, where real-estate was more affordable.

While everyone else was upgrading homes, we downsized to protect our budget and our bottom line.

The best part of our new home was it was only 12 minutes from our house to the boat ramp on the best bass fishing lake in Arizona. Now, some guys are fisherman, but I LOVE to fish! Wyatt spent much of his young life on the water and at age 2 had already caught his first bass, making the cast, hook-set and retrieve all by himself. We're pretty sure he learned to swim in the live well of a Skeeter bass boat.

When I say I love to fish, it was more than just that. I actually made money at it. I was a tournament fisherman and traveled to lakes in California, Nevada, and Arizona and wound up getting tournament checks at most of them. I also became a guide in Arizona and taught many people not just how to go fishing, but all about the intricacies of how to think like a fish.

Through it all, Wyatt was a fixture on the front of my boat with me. You've never seen a little boy concentrate so hard for 8 to 10 hours at a time, waiting for a bite from a fish he KNOWS is there. And NOBODY works a red Texas-rig worm better than my boy.

The hours we spent together on our boat were the happiest of my life. When we decided to start Wyatt in pre-school, it was sad for both of us to give up fishing time for school. I was worse than Wyatt about getting him out of school to go to the lake!

The Day Our World Stopped

In late November of 2008, Wyatt wasn't feeling very well. He got home from school and just didn't look right. I figured he had played to hard outside and was all worn out, or maybe coming down with a cold. The strange part was, he was breathing like he had just run a marathon and was flushed in the face and his eyes were staring off in the distance.

Trina slept with him that night to make sure he would have help if he needed it, but by the next morning, we knew this was more than we could handle at home.

I remember taking the 40 minute drive to the hospital and thanking God that Trina's new job with an on-line school had benefits so the co-pay at the doctor's office would only be $25.

Upon speaking with Wyatt's doctor, he told us he thought Wyatt had Type 1 Diabetes. I thought, "Diabetes, that's an old persons disease." My only experience with Diabetes while growing up was seeing a good friends mother in the final death throes of the disease. I was horrified to think that was happening to my son.

Our doctor prayed with us before sending us to the emergency room. I never had a doctor pray with me and while it brought me great comfort, it also made me realize how serious this was.

At the E.R. Wyatt was rushed inside and after a blood test that showed is blood sugar in the high 900's, we were told he had Diabetes and they could not help him there. He needed to be rushed to a children's hospital in Phoenix over two hours away.

I was in total shock. I remember standing up and feeling dizzy and nauseated. As they prepared Wyatt to load into the ambulance, I tried to pull myself together to show him strength and that Daddy would make everything ok.

As we stepped into the cold air between the E.R. and the ambulance, I knew there was no way I could ride in the back of that rig for 2 hours down mountain roads without throwing up all over. Fortunately, my wife had no problems jumping in the back and riding with him to Phoenix.

As the ambulance pulled out of the parking lot, I wobbled over to our car and promptly threw up.

Once I pulled myself together, I drove 90 miles an hour trying to catch up to the ambulance that carried my whole life inside.

It as an excruciating drive to Phoenix. I didn't even know if Wyatt would be alive when I got there. I poured my heart out to God, praying for the safety of my son and wife.

The Hospital

When I got to the children's hospital, the ambulance was empty, I tried to go in the entrance, but was turned away and told to go around to the main entrance.

I found a waiting room filled with coughing, sick and sneezing kids and walked right past the front desk and security like I knew what I was doing. Fortunately it worked and I found myself in the heart of the E.R. After asking the nursing staff for my son, they couldn't find any record of him.

I knew they were there because I recognized the ambulance outside. Finally we learned he had been transferred to the P.I.C.U. (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit).

By the time I was finally granted access to Wyatt's room, he was incoherent. I climbed on his bed and held him in my arms, but he didn't recognize me. My smart, outspoken little boy, couldn't say a word. There was no recognition in his eyes.

After almost 24 hours, Wyatt finally started to show signs of recovery. He recognized Mom first, then dad. We worked with him trying to get him to remember things from his life.

We asked him where he lived, but he couldn't remember. Then I asked him what lake we fish on and he correctly answered, "Roosevelt." I asked him what kind of fish we caught (expecting him to say bass) and we almost died laughing when he answered, "slots." (Roosevelt lake had a slot limit in effect where fish between 13-16 inches had to be released - we called these fish , "Slots")

That's when I knew I had my boy back.

Learning the Ropes

The next 4 days were a blur of I.V.'s, tests, training and tears. My parents were able to drive from over 4 hours away and offer us any help they could give. They even sat through some of the training on how to give insulin shots and how to check blood sugar.

I really didn't have a problem learning to give injections or figuring out calculations for insulin doses. It was just something I had to do to keep my boy alive.

The one thought I couldn't shake was, what happens if I can't get insulin? Being an outdoorsman, I always figured that if the world fell apart and we went to war, I would be more comfortable living in a cave in the middle of no-where than I was in my house in town. I was always ready to grab a few necessities and get as far from society as possible.

Now things had to change.

It was insulin at all costs. Instead of fleeing society, I'd have to fight my way to the nearest pharmacy and get all the supplies I could find.

After leaving the hospital, we went to a nearby hotel to make sure we could really do this on our own before driving 2 hours home. I went to the nearest drug store to fill the pages of prescriptions I had been given. (did you know they write prescriptions on 8.5x11 sheets of paper? I didn't and now I had 3 pages worth)

When the order was finally filled, the gal behind the counter walked up and smiled, "oh you get the BIG bags." I remember wanting to choke her for making light of the medicine I was buying to keep my son alive.

After charging my insurance, my co-pay was still $600. I remember thinking, "my God, how will I ever keep up with this for the rest of my life?"

Our New . . . Life?

I've never been so tired in all my life. I'm still not even sure why.

Maybe it's the constant glucose checks, endless insulin calculations, and treatment of, "lows."

Maybe it's the stress of constant concern about whether he will be low and pass out or have another seizure, or be high and be cooking his developing organs and blood vessels.

Maybe its the fact that I've spent every waking minute trying to figure out a way to be able to afford to by his medicine.

Maybe it's because, although I've worked harder and smarter than ever before in my life, our savings are gone and bankruptcy is coming like a runaway train.

I've never missed a payment, never got a speeding ticket, never used public assistance, and now my whole world is coming crashing down.

Oh yeah, and we have diapers to pay for, too.

Any one of these concerns can be enough to tear a person or a family apart. All together, they are almost impossible to bear.

We gave a valiant effort to both stay employed and maintain the life we had before he was diagnosed. All too soon, though, we realized that while our best efforts at our jobs barely kept our financial lives afloat, Wyatt's glucose levels were suffering horribly. Numbers as low as the high 30's into numbers over the high 600's were a daily occurrence and the level of exhaustion my wife and I felt was taking its toll on our health, too.

After days of tear-filled discussion, we decided that our only hope of keeping Wyatt healthy was for Trina to quit her teaching job and for me to carry the load of our business almost on my own. Wyatt's numbers started to improve almost immediately, but at the expense of losing our health insurance.

Even in hindsight, I still don't see a way we could win with these decisions.

Sometimes, life does give you more than you can handle.

Today

Today, I can barely recognize the world I get up in every morning.

Mornings start with glucose checks, sugar corrections, quick sugar, and always the fear of another seizure.

Almost every day I scrape together the energy to go to work, because what else can I do? I can't quit on my family or myself, even though I know; all I do can't possibly be enough.

My heart breaks each day when Wyatt asks if this is finally the day we get to go fishing again.

My life as a bass fisherman and guide is over and I don't even own a boat to take Wyatt fishing. We had to sell our boat to have money to buy a home closer to a hospital. The change from owning a $40,000 pro bass boat and fishing almost daily, to not having fished in over a year and a half is heartbreaking for both Wyatt and I.

My photography business is showing the strain of me trying to hold it all together. I've had to turn away work that could have made money, simply because photographing schools of 600 kids or more by myself is just too much for one man to handle. I've worked as much as 140 hours in a week and average around 80 per week, just trying to stay afloat.

I'm thankful for the work, though and I want to be able to keep up for my family.

I don't mind that life is hard. It should be hard.

We should have to earn our way in the world and I'm proud to provide for my family. I just wish is was possible to do that with Type 1 diabetes.

I was never rich, but before he was diagnosed, we were making it. Working our tails off, but still having time for each other and a little left over for savings and fun. Now, there's not enough to cover the basics and I've watched as we've sold off everything of value to try and keep afloat; while every day sinking deeper into debt.

The Future?

I'm open to whatever God has in store for us. Jesus is my Savior, my hope, and my strength.

I know he chose us for this path because he knew Trina and I wouldn't take it lying down. He knew we would fight for our son and for all the Type 1 families suffering from this despicable disease.

I also know, there is no way for us to keep living the lifestyle we're accustomed to. The house we bought to be our family home is now for sale. We are adjusting to the idea of apartment living someday.

I have done more research about bankruptcy than I ever wanted to know and if that is our destiny, I will go down knowing I fought it every possible way and will continue to fight to raise a family that is productive in our society and knows how to work hard.

If I lose my photography business, like I lost my fishing career, I will find another way to make money. I'll lay down my personal dreams, hopes and plans. I'll do whatever it takes, but I refuse to be a stranger to my children.

We are actively working on a foundation to help Type 1 Families. Not that I have energy, but I can't bear the thought of anyone else going through what we've gone through.

Above all, I WILL FIGHT FOR WYATT"S LIFE.

If you're still reading this, I want to personally thank you for taking the time to get to know our little family.

Please join me in our fight to provide Wyatt with the best medical care available. Click on the link for "Our Plan" and read about what we're doing today.

We need all the financial help we can get. Every single dollar helps, but we need emotional support, too. Mom and I are all worn out and we're hanging on by sheer determination alone. A kind word, a simple prayer, simply telling someone else about what you've seen and read here.

It takes a village to raise a child . . . It takes EVERONE WE CAN GET to raise a child with Type 1 Diabetes.



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