Stephen Buchanan’s passion is singing. He enjoys opera, but especially loves singing hymns. Not being able to sing again would be devastating, but because of your support, Stephen was able to receive the care he needed at the beginning of the year – and currently is undergoing speech therapy in hopes he will sing again soon.
Not long ago the possibility he’d lose his ability to sing was very real. He spent two weeks in Chambersburg Hospital’s Critical Care Unit last January intubated upright for 12 days.
The Greencastle native may not be ready to croon publicly quite yet, but, he’s singing the praises of the hospital staff he says saved his life and “feel like family” now.
When Stephen was admitted to Chambersburg Hospital earlier this year, he was in rough shape. He’d been struggling with health problems for some time due to untreated sleep apnea. He was in respiratory failure and congestive heart failure.
“I had not been taking care of myself. I was in such a dark place – spiritually, mentally and physically,” he says softly. “I really had given up.”
That first day is a bit of a blur. The only thing he recalls about being in the Emergency Department is telling his doctor about how he loves to sing. “I remember I belted out an aria and fell asleep,” he says. “When I woke up two days later, I heard the word ‘trach.’ That scared me.”
Although not usual hospital practice, Stephen convinced his Pulmonologist, Dr. Santosh Nepal, to allow him to sit up while he was intubated so as not to risk possible damage to his voice.
For the next two weeks Stephen had to communicate with pen and paper. “It was so difficult – I couldn’t eat, drink or speak,” he recalls. “One day one of my nurses swabbed my mouth with a little Orange Crush – it was like heaven!” he remembers with a huge smile.
Despite some serious personal setbacks since returning home –the passing of his ailing father and a house fire - he’s feeling healthier and taking better care of himself. He goes to speech therapy at the hospital every week. While there, he often stops to visit the CCU to check in on the people he credits with his recovery.
“Such a sense of peace comes over me when I come back to visit,” Stephen says.
Stephen appreciates that such excellent health care was available to him when he needed it. And, he’s deeply grateful to all those who support the hospital with their charitable gifts to make that happen. “By giving, you have the ability to change someone’s life.”
“I like to serve – I do not like to be served,” he explains quietly. And to be given the care I was given … I was overwhelmed.” He still tears up when he talks about how his nurses and the other staff helped heal both his body and his soul, noting they nurtured him as if her were their own family member.
“So often, they don’t hear the gratitude,” he continues. “They hear pain, they experience death, and then carry that home. Even though they’re getting a paycheck, it goes so far beyond that.”
Stephen Buchanan’s faith is very strong. “We’re all here to serve our Heavenly Father - we are his hands and feet,” he says with deep conviction. He wants others to know he believes the people who cared for him showed that kind of service to others. Quoting one of his favorite proverbs, he says, “A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Stephen Buchanan’s voice may not be ready for primetime yet but he’s getting stronger every day. He knows he’s been given a second chance and he’s working hard to be healthier. He’s looking forward to the future.
He’s happy to share his personal experience to recognize those who were so crucial to helping him regain his health. “If by sharing my story I can help others, that’s what I want to do,” says Stephen. “I’ve been blown away,” he says. “I don’t even know how to begin to say, ‘thank you.’”
You make outcomes like Stephen’s possible when you support local health care. He’s grateful to you, and so are countless others who are touched by your kindness when you give.
Thank you for supporting your hometown hospital.
Your gifts matter.