Page 13 - JAN 2024
P. 13

January 2024
Page 13
medication and daily exercise. He enjoys socializing and attends church whenever he can. From his modest apartment’s “Man Cave,” decorated with sports memorabilia, he regularly mon- itors a scanner, ready to convey breaking news to media outlets. In the years since the fire, Dean has rediscovered the fun of tractor competitions and has won ribbons in those contests.
During our conversation, Dean expressed profound grat- itude for those who have helped to restore his life: first respond- ers, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, his sons Tim and Paul and his wife, Trisha, his sister Sharon Jarest, and friends David Jewitt, and “D” Smith as well as the many “kind” resi- dents of Danbury.
I reminded Dean that it was the cusp of the new year, 2024. So, I asked if he had any advice for those who might be reading about him. At first, he lowered his head and seemed somber. Then, looking up at me with a smile, he said, “Don’t give up, no matter what, don’t give up.” I thought to myself... ”That’s the real Dean Martin!”
continued from page 14
in, enjoying the birth of two sons, Tim in 1979 and Paul in 1982. Life had come and passed with its usual challenges; bear- ing the sons meant Susan had endured two Caesarean opera- tions. Dean struggled with dia- betes, as he had since age fifteen. However, Dean had secure and rewarding work at Freudenberg, crafting gaskets and monitoring silicon production. In addition to childrearing, Susan enjoyed creative sewing, volunteering at the local church, and welcoming two grandchildren to the Martin family. Unfortunately, the quies- cent years of Dean and Susan’s lives would end in tragedy in the winter of 2015.
February 19, 2015, was frigid. The month was notable for re- cord-cold temperatures. In re- sponse to what was an unusual polar vortex, Susan Martin had kept a hot fire going in the Dan- bury home’s living room wood stove. So, it was no surprise to Dean to see smoke billowing from the chimney when he re- turned from work in the late af-
ternoon. However, on entering the house, he knew something was wrong. The house was fill- ing with smoke, and flames were visible near the living room wood stove. Susan was seated near the wood stove. Upon seeing Dean, she shouted to call 911 and to get water. Dean rushed into the adjoining kitchen in response to her pleas. Grabbing a pail of water, he turned to re-enter the living room. At that moment the fire, which had been in- cipient, experienced what
the experts call a “flash over”. Flames erupted everywhere, the windows cracked, and Susan and Dean caught fire. Dean was overcome with smoke. He fell unconscious but was soon awakened by a neighbor, Michael Mitch- ell, who pulled Dean out- side. Dean pleaded with Michael to try to rescue Susan. It was too late. Windows were exploding. The house was impenetra- ble. Susan died; she was 58.
Dean was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A coma was induced so the medical staff
Dean as a young man with his son, Tim, before the fire.
he wanted to die. One special nurse would whisper in his ear each night, “Please, Dean, don’t give up.” Recovery came slowly. There was physical therapy at Health South Rehab, body re- construction, and grief coun- seling. Dean’s troubles were not over. He began to experience chronic hand tremors and epi- sodes of imbalance. The hand- shaking became profound. He could not feed himself.
Something had to be done to restore his au- tonomy. He learned of a promising procedure available at the Dart- mouth Medical Center called “Deep Brain Stim- ulation.” A neurosur- geon, following an MRI scan, implanted an elec- trode in the brain’s prob- lem area. Dean would now be able to stop the onset of the tremors by sending the corrective impulses to the electrode from a handheld device.
Today, Dean continues to re- spond positively to many chal- lenges. He continues his lifelong struggle to control diabetes with
  could treat the extensive burns. After several days, Dean began to experience moments of wake- fulness. In those moments, he let those attending to him know that

   11   12   13   14   15