Dean Powell has been wheelchair-bound and unable to walk for the past 16 years after suffering an aneurysm when he was 38 years old. Doctors speculate the aneurysm was caused by drug use that caused fluctuating blood pressure.
By EDIE CAMPE
The popularity of crank has made a Clay County man want to tell his story about problems he faces because of the irresistible drug.
Dean Powell, 54, of Staunton, is in a wheelchair after suffering a brain aneurysm 16 years ago when he was only 38 years old.
Dean liked to ride his motorcycle that he built from spare parts. He chose to be a member of a motorcycle club from Terre Haute that had a reputation for doing drugs, stealing and other criminal activities.
Introduced to drugs when he was 14 or 15 years old, Dean started by smoking marijuana and gradually evolved to snorting crank.
He attributes this club for helping to get his crank problem started.
Dean became more distant from his family, especially his mother, Pat Powell.
"He'd be gone for days at a time. I accused him (of doing drugs), but he denied it. The only time he came home was when he needed money," Pat said.
"I lied to her a lot," Dean admitted.
Pat didn't find out about her son's drug problem until he became ill.
Over a two-week period, "Dean had a headache. His vision was getting blurry and he thought he needed new glasses.
"Doctors said that an aneurysm will drip for around two weeks before it breaks. One night, this broke. A neighbor called an ambulance and took him to the hospital. He had two cardiac arrests before they got him to the hospital," Pat recalled.
"When he had (the aneurysm), the doctors told us that he was doing drugs. They could tell because his nose was burnt from sniffing dope."
After the aneurysm, Dean was in a coma for 40 days. The doctors told the family that he might never come out of a coma and if he did, he would be a vegetable.
"The doctors operated on him after he came out of a coma," said Pat. "He had a 17 1/2-hour surgery. Now he has a scar that goes from ear to ear."
When Dean came home, he couldn't even hold his head up, Pat said.
"We have worked with him for 16 years. He doesn't have any feeling. He can't smell, can't taste. He doesn't have any pain. He never knows when he's hungry. He never knows when he's full. It's just like he's trapped in his own body."
"I am, basically. I am trapped in my own body. I used to do drugs, it messed me up and I almost died. Thanks to my folks down here and God up there, I am still here."
Dean has a home health aide that helps care for him and works with him five hours a day, five days a week.
Certified Nurse's Assistant Winnie Gleason, has cared for Dean for two years.
"Many drugs do crazy things with the blood pressure. Anytime a person's blood pressure goes up and then goes down, goes up then goes down, they are in danger of having a stroke," Gleason said. "That is what an aneurysm is. It is a type of stroke."
Dean hasn't developed the muscle strength to hold himself up in a standing position. He can't walk and is confined to either his wheelchair or his bed, Gleason said.
"After a person has had serious brain damage, usually there is a window of 18-24 months where the individual makes very rapid recovery. Well, that is not all the recovery they are going to make. They are going to recover more over the years, but it will slow down and it won't be that obvious. If his condition changes any, it won't be dramatic."
Doing drugs gives you three options for the rest of your life, Dean said, you will either be locked up, laid up or covered up.
"I am all against drugs now," Dean said. "There's nothing good about them."