"Shannon! Shannon!" The phone rang at 1:20am..."I can't get Kaitlyn to breathe." ??What do you mean she's not breathing??? "We were in the pool and she is not moving and will not wake up!"
On June 21, 2011 at 1:24 AM, I rushed out my back door where she was holding my daughter barely out of the water. I called Kaitlyn's name and gently slapped her face a few times. I knew I needed help, so I ran inside to get my younger son. He immediately jumped in the pool and lifted her over the side where her friend and I laid her on the ground.
On the verge of freaking out, I called 911! That call felt like forever. I threw the phone and started CPR. She was lifeless. I finally just stopped and held her and rocked her in my arms saying ??God, please don't take my baby!??
Because of a combination of Fentanyl and Xanex, she overdosed and went into a chemically induced coma. She stopped breathing and choked on her on vomit. This cut off blood flow to her brain and caused it to swell. This led to her brain death.
Kaitlyn was a hard working 16 year old. She had been active in sports, soccer, and competition cheerleading. She held a job and maintained an ??A?? average. She had a great personality and to know her was to love her. She had a big heart for people. During cheerleading practice when Kaitlyn was in 8th grade, she tore her ACL. After surgery, she was prescribed pain medicine.
After Kaitlyn recovered, she tried to go back to cheering, but couldn't get her knee to work the same as it used to. She was left without any sports or activities. She felt left out during her recovery and lost connection with her friends. It is very hard when you are in middle school and your whole world gets turned upside down, especially when you have to find new friends.
Kaitlyn struggled with prescription addiction for 2 years. The first year we had no idea. The signs were there, but the last thing a parent wants to do is admit their own child is dealing with drug abuse! In 2010, things had gotten out of control. I was being called to pick her up from the police department, which became a normal thing for us. Because she was a minor and looked cute, they kept sending her home. I can't tell you how many times I begged for help! I ended up charging my daughter with assault. As bad as I felt, I took a deep breath and thought that everything was going to be ok. Finally!
Kaitlyn was ordered to go to rehab for 120 days and she sat in juvenile hall for 29 days before a bed became available. As bad as I hated for her to go, I actually felt a sense of relief! Home visits were bittersweet. When she came home, visits were exciting for me, but not as much for Kaitlyn. As a mom, I wanted to protect her, so every 5 minutes I was asking "are you ok?" That just made things worse.
Thanksgiving is a time to make memories. As a tradition, we take turns saying something we are thankful for. Kaitlyn spoke up and said that she was thankful to be with us and was glad to have strength! What a wonderful memory of the last Thanksgiving I will ever have with my daughter!
On March 9 2011, I went to Greenville to pick up Kaitlyn. We all knew she wasn't ready to come home, but our hands were tied. A normal goodbye circle takes about 30-45 minutes. This is where everyone sits around and clients and staff can talk to the person leaving and give encouragement and advice. Three hours later, it was finally my turn to talk. Holding back the tears, all I could manage to say was "Kaitlyn, I love you and will not survive burying you!"
When we came home, Kaitlyn went to the local college to finish high school. She scored so high on her placement test that she was offered pre-med classes. Kaitlyn thought because she had gone to rehab and fell behind in school, her dream of becoming a cardiologist was over.
On June 23, 2011 Kaitlyn was pronounced brain-dead. We were told that because CPR was started early, we could donate her organs. Only 2 percent of people who die are able to donate and she was a perfect candidate. Because of her levels of xanex, organ donation was delayed. Thursday morning the doctor said we had a choice to leave her on life support, but her body was failing. Her blood level was checked again, but this time they were cleared to call Carolina Donor Services. The doctors encourage you to leave when you start the donation process, but I could not find the strength to leave her side until she was taken back for surgery.
Looking back at June 20, everything seemed to be perfect. Only God knows why Kaitlyn chose this day to relapse. This one bad choice has not only affected her, but everyone in her life. She left behind a mother, two sisters, one brother, a grandpa, two nephews, a boyfriend, and many people who loved her.
On my way to work, a week after her death, I asked God what I was supposed to do with this. All I kept thinking was ??take this story and educate people,?? so there won't be any more prescription drug related deaths! This is why our foundation exists!
Our name is P.E.A.C.E. (Prescription Education Abuse Counseling Empowerment); a non-profit organization. Our mission is to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drugs and empower them with the knowledge to recognize and stop abuse before it starts!
This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.