Mark's Story
Mark's Story

Mark Alan Weaver was born on October 17th , 1972. He was the 3rd child to our parents, Alan and Beverly Weaver. Mark was born with an Auto Immune disease which compromised his ability to sometimes even fight things as simple as the common cold. Often times that would turn into more difficult infections, mostly bronchial. This never slowed Mark down and he embraced life with a zealousness unmatched by even those with a healthy immune system.

Mark, or as I fondly referred to him as Welby, never lost his vigor. He met each health challenge head-on and it never seemed to affect his ability to be kind to others or share his amazing smile or infectious laugh that so many remember him for to this day.

We also have degenerative arthritis that runs in our family and in his early 30s, Mark had to have double hip replacement surgery. With this surgery, another problem arose. At the time he had these surgeries, unfortunately, doctors, including his, were prescribing pain pills in dosages that were dangerous and left many, including Mark, finding himself addicted to the pain pill. This is where some of the problems with how Mark was treated started to take place. Sadly, one of the hips got infected. I remember rushing Mark into the hospital and getting to witness firsthand the disrespectful way he was treated.

Apparently, the thought of one of the nurses that he first saw thought he was faking his pain to simply get more drugs. After all, he was a young man and looked healthy enough. He was left in the hallway of this hospital until I caused a scene that finally got him into a room. Once they drew blood from his hip, it was the color of coffee and we almost lost him because the infection was going septic. This was the beginning of me being involved in his health care and becoming an advocate, along with our mother, to get him better care and to fight against the stereotypes that exist in our world.

At one point his then doctor’s nurse had prescribed up to 19 different medicines for Mark, including the pain pills, and had it not been for his pharmacist, Mark would have died from this cocktail as some of the pills together were lethal. At that point, we immediately moved him to a different doctor.

Unfortunately, after being on so many narcotics, Mark developed an addiction, and our family, along with Mark, had to fight these addictions by getting him into counseling and slowly moving him away from his dependency. So, he was not only fighting this newfound addiction but still battling the issues that manifested from his poor immune system. Not to mention the damage the high dose of narcotics had on his kidneys and liver. Mark was then put on disability after he had to have the infected hip replaced a second time. This now limited him financially and that in and of itself caused depression and sadness in my brother. But like I said, Mark had this uncanny ability to always smile and was famous for saying “I never ask why me. I simply ask why not me. If it has to happen to someone, why not me?”

For this reason and so many more, Welby became a hero to me and to many others around him. He was the first to lend a hand and that contagious laugh and smile. At one time in his life, Mark got pneumonia so severe that the doctors told me to contact our family. He was given last rights and our family kept a vigilant post by his bedside. Because of his vigor and zest for life, Mark pulled through. His strength was nothing short of a miracle. Mark’s battles continued and in the late summer of 2014 Mark contracted Necrotizing Fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria simply by giving blood at a hospital. He was up against losing his arm and had only a 40% chance of surviving the surgery. Amazingly, he made it through and did not lose his arm. Another amazing feat for this man, my brother.

After battling the infection and six months of at-home treatment, Mark was once again able to go back to work and begin to live a somewhat normal life. He was now teaching others about addictions and was studying Psychology in school to help others that struggled both mentally and financially as he had.

Unfortunately, the infection came back twice and the last time Mark, as strong as he was, lost his battle with the infection and passed away alone in his home on March 14th, 2015.

Loss changes everyone and I am certainly not immune to that. As I struggled with my grief over this horrific loss and watched the hole it created in the fabric of my family cloth, I knew, his death could not be in vain.

Even though Mark was a fighter and came back from places I never believed anyone could, he felt his voice was not heard. He was often silenced when pushing back in regards to his health. His opinions didn’t seem to matter and were often ignored. This started a wave of anger in me and I wanted to do something to change this feeling for others.

Knowing Mark’s approach, I had to summon him emotionally and set my sights on doing the good he was beginning to do for others. I had to finish his journey for him.

A few days after losing Mark my mom and I sat down and I wrote his name out. I wanted to do something good in my brother’s name to honor his vigilance and kindness to others. MARK (memories are respectfully kept) was born.

Whereas I will never be my brother nor can I change what happened to him, I can do good and help others maneuver through their health care issues and help them not only find but keep their voices.

For those of you who met my brother, you will agree that this is exactly what Mark would have wanted me to do. For those of you that never got that opportunity, I hope you feel his strength in all I attempt to do for you in his name.

Yours in health,

Marcy Rzepka