Kevin T. Doohan II passed away on Monday, 08-03-20.
He had been suffering from CHS (Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome). This has been going on for the last 10-12 years. It’s hard to remember for sure, but I want to say I think his daughter was a brand new baby, and she just turned 12 in May.
By the time this happened, Kevin had been sick, throwing up for about 4 or 5 days. We’d been trying to convince him to let us take him to the hospital and he kept refusing. Right now, I have a houseful of 19 other family members because we’re supposed to leave today to go on a family lake house trip so everybody is here. His brothers, best friend, Gary, myself, all of us had gone in and talked to him to get him to agree to go but he continually said Nope, Not going, NO, etc… So through this constant vomiting, he’s dehydrating himself. He’s drinking fluids, but he’s not retaining any of it.
He doesn’t like to go to the hospital because with this disease, and the vomiting, it’s much less painful to drink something so that you have something to throw up than to have the dry-heaves. They’ve called this an abdominal migraine. When he’s in the hospital, they won’t let him have water or other things to drink. I told him they won’t let him because he’s getting the fluids, anti-nausea meds, electrolytes, potassium, pain meds and whatever else that he needs thru the IV so he doesn’t need the water. They know what you need and that’s not part of it.
The other reason he doesn’t like to go is because with this disease, the only actual relief they get from it/the pain is bathing or showering in really hot water. I guess it has something to do with temperature regulation. But I know it relieves the pain to have the hot water on his stomach. We’ve tried hot water bottles and heating pads in the past, but nothing works as well as the baths/showers. So, during his last few days (as is the same in every episode he’d had), he would vomit, then drink water, Gatorade, whatever. Then head for the bathtub, try to sleep (usually only successfully for a very short time).
As time went on, these episodes would get closer and closer to each other. It would get to the point to where he’d get out of the tub, doesn’t even dry off, wrap the towel around him, dripping wet, walk into his room and literally, just fall over into his bed. His bed becomes sopping wet. A little while later, he starts drinking again, because he knows he’s going to start heaving if he doesn’t. Then the process starts all over again. So, he goes back and forth, over and over with this vomiting, drinking, bathing, sleeping rotation. He becomes basically delirious from exhaustion and pain.
We discussed physically forcing him to go. We also all talked about maybe not giving him water, thinking that would possibly make him think ok, I have to go now, it’s time. In prior years, he’s always been able to get up and drag himself to the fridge to get whatever to drink. There were times when he’d ask for it because it was easier, but if he wanted it bad enough, he could get it himself. He could get himself to the bathroom, so he could get himself to get a drink. So our goal was to not make it easy for him because if it was easy, he would drag this out for many, many more days. At one point, the longest he did this in the past was almost 3 weeks and then FINALLY, he said OK, take me to the hospital. This time, when I told him that we were going to force him into the car, and he kept saying no, he said he’d just open the door and fall out because he’s that adamant about not going to the hospital. I told him that we were going to call an ambulance. He said nope. It really would not do any good to do that because he knows he can refuse medical care.
At some point, after days of this, he finally decided that his bed was just too cold, so he took his blankets and moved to the floor. On Monday morning (Aug 3rd) about 1am, Gary and I saw him laying naked in the bathroom so we woke him up and told him he had to go back into his room. He did and I went in and sat next to him and asked if he was ready to go to the hospital. He said Nope. I pleaded with him again. He said no, no, no. I told him I didn’t understand why, he said no. About 4am I checked on him, and asked again, he said no. About 9am Joe said he talked to him and no change. I think it was about 11:30am when I realized that I hadn’t heard the shower in awhile so I was glad, thinking Awesome, he’s sleeping FINALLY, he’s improving and that’s a good thing.
Shortly after that, I opened the door and just looked at him, and he looked like he was sleeping so I just thought cool and then closed the door. And then about 1pm or so, again, I still hadn’t heard the shower and again I thought great, he’s probably still sleeping, so again, I opened the door and he’s still crashed. And, when he sleeps, he’s an extremely deep sleeper and often doesn’t move so when I opened the door the 2nd time and he hadn’t moved, it didn’t surprise me because that’s Kevin.
So then, at 2:00, something, this trucking company came to deliver something quite large for Kevin, for his truck. I didn’t know what it was. I knew there was a tow package coming but this was some huge drawer system he had ordered that the delivery guy wanted to know what to do with. So I took the packing slip and I thought he loves his truck, maybe if I try and talk to him about it, maybe it just might (hopefully) make him snap out of it a little and say ok, take me to the hospital, I want to check out this stuff for my truck, bla bla bla – was my hope anyway. So I went upstairs and got down on the floor. He was in the same position, which was on his stomach, his forehead was resting on his arm. I started talking to him and tried to wake him up and he wouldn’t move or wake up. I tried harder and harder, he wouldn’t move. He was cold and stiff and I couldn’t turn him over. I started crying and screaming for help but everybody was downstairs and outside. I went halfway downstairs and screamed again. Joe heard me and came up. He was strong enough to turn him over and he started compressions while I called 911. I put them on speaker phone, they were on the way. All the blood had pooled into his face because he was face down. He was blue & purple. His lips were black. Gary had switched back and forth with Joe doing compressions and I could hear the air going in and out of his mouth. His arm was up in the air by his head and stiff (because he was resting his head on it while lying on his stomach). It wasn’t doing any good. By the time that they got there, they said to stop compressions, that with the amount of blood pooling and rigamortis, it’s been probably 4-7 hours. – which means – I’m sorry, this is really hard – that the couple of times that I thought he was sleeping, he was already gone.
They had police here, chaplains, coroners and I don’t even remember who else. They had us leave the room and covered him up. I tried to get back in there to see him and they told me not yet, they were waiting for the crime unit. I asked why and they said because they didn’t know what happened or how he had passed. I said I know exactly what happened, and I had to explain the story to every single one of them. Not one person had ever heard of CHS. There were at least 8 people here. So they said I could see him again right before they leave. Just a few of us wanted to see him before they took him away. He was in a body bag. But his arm was down and his coloring was actually quite a bit better. They said that they will be doing an autopsy due to the fact that he is so young. Also, they will probably do a tox screen, but that could take 2-3 months to get back, so they’ll issue a death certificate that states “pending” for cause of death.
I was concerned over the years that he might end up with stomach, esophageal or throat cancer or something like that because of the trauma he was putting on his system from the violent vomiting. But I never thought this would happen. No, I take that back. I was afraid that this could happen, but didn’t think it was near as likely as the cancer.
I, like I’m sure every other parent, thought this would never happen to me – that this happens to other families, or on TV. My heart hurts so bad, as does his brothers’ & Gary’s, and I know his dad’s does as well. I don’t wish this on any family. I wish it was a bad nightmare that I will still wake up from.
About 5 months later, we finally got the results of the autopsy. His death was ruled an accident. Autopsy findings: Complications of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome
A. Clinical history of marijuana dependence
B. Acute vomiting episode for one week duration
i. Acute renal failure
Kim, Gary, & Family