Phillip Hoag

Phillip_Hoag_1April 9, 1980 to May 5, 1996

Phillip Hoag was born April 9, 1980 in Raleigh, North Carolina. When he was 2 we learned that he was a special needs child. He was quickly put into special education classes to help him. He was very intelligent but his communication skills were his weak area.

In the summer of 1986 we moved to Pennsylvania and on September 17, 1986 our daughter Sharron was born. Phillip’s progress in the learning support system was going extremely well.

Soon he was being mainstreamed into the regular school system. He was mainstreamed into almost all the special subjects such as; music, art, physical education, etc. Within a year he was mainstreamed in Math.

In the summer of 1995 he was able to have his first and only summer job. He had his summer job with the help of some special programs in the area. He got a great deal of joy each time he got his paycheck.

Phillip was a very happy and loving boy. He would do almost anything you ask of him. His progress was coming along well. Then in May of 1996 everything changed.

It began on May 2,1996 when my daughter Sharron came home from school crying. When I asked what was wrong, she says my leg hurts real bad. I thought she had a cramp or spasm. Then later she had a fever. I then thought she was getting the flu that was going around at her school.

Phillip who was 16 at this time had been struggling with a head cold for about two weeks. He had the kind with the runny nose, congestion and slight cough. His appetite had not changed. His activity level was the same. There was nothing to indicate that he was real sick.

May 3,1996 was when our troubles began. Phillip was up as usual. He had his breakfast and his cold medicine. I gave him a tissue and sent to the bus stop. Sharron had a very rough night so I called the doctor and he said to bring her right in. Just as we started out the door the phone rang. It was Phillip’s school calling to say that he is really sick. So I stopped and picked him up and took them both to see the doctor.

The doctor examined them both. He first tells me I should take Sharron to The Bloomsburg Hospital which is about 20 minutes drive away. He tells me to take her to the emergency room there. For Phillip, he gives me a couple of prescriptions and tells me to also give him clear liquids and Tylenol.

At the hospital after waiting for test results, I’m told only that Sharron needs to be transported to Geisinger Children’s Hospital. I call my husband Rick and tell him what was happening. Shortly after, I hear the helicopter. Then the nurse calls me over to talk to the crew. I knew that something was wrong. Still not knowing what was wrong with her, she is Lifeflighted to the children’s hospital.

At Geisinger after many hours of waiting for test results, we learned that the doctors suspect that she has meningitis.

My husband, Rick, and I decided it would be best for him to take Phillip home to rest. As we turn and look at him, he is shivering. Then right in front of our eyes he turns pale. When the nurse came in and sees what is happening she tells us to take him to the emergency room. By the end of the night Phillip is on the 3rd floor and Sharron is in I.C.U. both of them have Meningococcal meningitis.

On May 4,1996 , Sharron’s condition unchanged. She is under sedation and connected to all kinds of machines. Phillip however isn’t doing well in fact he’s worse. He too is now in I.C.U. in the room right next to his sister. His condition is getting worse each minute and by nightfall his kidneys had shut down.

On Sunday May 5,1996 we are given two choices by the doctors. One: keep Phillip on life support which would buy him only a few hours before he would eventually drown in his own fluids and die anyway. Two: shut down everything and he would go in a manner of minutes.

Unknown to us our church held a special prayer time for our family and during that time the decision for Phillip had been made. The choice wasn’t much of a choice. Our son deserved to go with dignity. So on May 5, 1996 he died.

The support we got from the community was wonderful. After they learned of Phillip’s death there was a special prayer circle in front of the schools of both our children. There was over 220 people there and later in the year the students raised money and used it to plant a tree with a stone in his memory. What a wonderful tribute to my son. After all these years I had wondered how the other kids felt about him. Now I know that they really cared for him.

On May 9,1996 at our son’s funeral there was a whole busload of fellow students there to pay their respects. After the graveside ceremony the students formed a big circle and released balloons with smiling faces on them in the air as their way of saying goodbye.

During that time Sharron again made another improvement. Sharron was in the hospital till May 31,1996, and she was in a wheelchair till mid-July. During that time she went through doctor visits, visiting nurses and therapy. By the end of July she only had therapy.

Then tutoring began to get her ready for school. She was not allowed to go swimming or traveling for most of the summer. By November of 1996 the doctor said see you next year.

Today she is back to her old self. She has just as much energy as she had before she was sick, maybe even more.

Well that’s their story. Phillip was a special needs child. But he was special in so many other ways. He will forever be known and remembered with a smile and love.

This past year has been a very difficult time. I look at Sharron and sometimes burst into tears, to think of how close it was. I could have lost her too. Now that she’s better I don’t want anyone else to go through the pain of watching their child go from a bubbly, active child to laying so still and weak and almost lifeless.

Thanks for reading this and may God protect your family. May you always find comfort knowing you are not alone.