Shawn Knepper Reflects On Year Of Recovery
Thirty years later, the nightmare returned when Shawn began experiencing an array of health issues ranging from double vision and dizziness to high blood pressure and headaches. Testing led to a prognosis the Knepper family had always lived in fear of – the tumor had returned.
“Everything just happened so quickly that I just hardly couldn’t believe how it was happening,” recalled Shawn in a recent letter penned to family, friends and supporters from the community. “Last April when I went to the doctor in Baltimore, I didn’t think it was as serious as it was. The doctor told me if I went home, I could die because I lived so far away. The doctors around here weren’t capable of doing what needed to be done if I became really sick and the pressure built up in my head requiring emergency surgery.”
Deep down Shawn, 38, must have realized the situation was worse than he wanted to believe as he carried with him that day an emergency bag containing clothing and a toothbrush.
In the initial surgery performed at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, doctors were able to remove a total of three cysts and scar tissue that had accumulated over the years. Shawn’s physical condition deteriorated quickly, however, as he soon found himself comatose and on full life support while suffering from meningitis and even kidney failure.
Doctors returned to the operating room and removed all of the man-made materials they had placed in and around his skull during the first surgery that were being rejected by Shawn’s body. Shawn awoke from his coma shortly thereafter.
Even though his memory is now shortened by a period of two months, Shawn says he feels that his life and ongoing recovery can definitely be attributed to God and the power of prayer in combination with doctor knowhow.
“I can’t really remember too many things after that moment of waking up. So many things happened to me in the hospital that I just can’t hardly believe. mean God must have had his hand on me, and I believe that there were angels around me and protecting me from knowing what was really happening to me. To this day, I still try to remember things and I can’t,” said Shawn.
“The whole community rallied behind Shawn. My heart was really touched,” said his mother, who noted monetary donations from individuals and church fundraisers, and more importantly, prayers were instrumental in helping Shawn get back on his feet.
Following his discharge from the intensive care unit at the University of Maryland, Shawn was transferred to Chambersburg Hospital for extensive rehabilitation that focused on solving a variety of issues such as relearning how to walk. He then continued his therapy for several additional months at Fulton County Medical Center.
“I’ve come too far to turn around now,” Shawn told the “News.” “I had to teach myself how to walk again, and I still can’t run to this day. I can’t do two things at once, and there are still things I’d like to do but can’t. It’s very frustrating.” Shawn returned to work as maintenance and repairman at the PennDOT maintenance office just north of McConnellsburg on July 7. “I have a different outlook on life and even with my job. I am just so much happier, and I want to live life to the fullest,” he added.
In spite of still suffering from balance issues and double vision that causes headaches, Shawn still remains hopeful he can beat the odds.
“This is my second chance at life. It’s a personal thing, but like going to the gym and consider myself in good shape and health now. I’ve lain in a bed totally helpless, so I know the flip side of the coin,” he said.
“I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support,” he concluded. “ ... Please don’t stop praying for me. I never want to forget what happened to me because this keeps me motivated and striving for all that I can be.”