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A South Jersey Dad’s Story: Part Two – Drugs, Neglect…A Mother Out of Control

Courtesy of the Feltwell family

This is the second part of Dan Feltwell’s story, in his own words.  If you missed part one, click here.

Sometimes your circumstances in life call on you to do extraordinary things; things you never expect or anticipate of yourself. It is at these times that you get a true sense of exactly who you are.  Can you reach down… within yourself and  summon the strength to give a worthy effort to this enormous job?  Not all can. It takes an extraordinary person to do extraordinary things.

Others watch us at those defining moments, to see the heights to which a person can climb, and his journey becomes an inspiration for them.  That moment is where I find myself as I watch  Dan Feltwell of Margate.  Dan is the single father of Danny, a four-year-old  boy with a rare and aggressive form of adolescent cancer.

Dan Feltwell is an extraordinary man for whom I have incredible respect. Dan has been facing  a series of circumstances that are testing his heart and soul,  and he is meeting that test and setting  a proud example for his son and all of us to follow.

Now, Dan is contemplating writing a book about his son’s struggle with cancer.  Here is  part two of the sketch for that manuscript with Dan Feltwell telling you his story in his own words. I will try to post additional “chapters” as Dan makes them available.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts for Dan and Danny in the comments section below….

Here is part two of Dan’s story…

 

Everything started to unravel, a downward spiral that I could not stop.
As Danny grew in the first 3 months I noticed a something that frightened me. I watched as his birth mother grew farther and farther from him. I watched as the maternal bond a mother is supposed to have become to the point of non-existent. I was working and did not know what to do, I thought that maybe it was postpartum depression. I reached out to her family, my family our pediatrician and even our family doctor. Looking back I can say that this just pushed things in a direction I was not prepared for, even if I made all the right decisions for my son no decision I made was right for her.

I came home from work on a Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving, and as always my first response was to go to Danny and hold him. When I picked Danny up from his crib, which was very unusual for 3:00 in the afternoon, Danny was not responsive. I freaked out, I panicked at first but then I heard a small cry, a whimper. I immediately called 911 holding Danny and trying not to raise my voice at her. She gave him Benadryl so he would not be a bother to her!!! Because there was no malicious intent the police and the ER physician determined that I could not do anything by law. Danny was just 3 months old and I knew I had to do something but what more was I to do?

I quit my job that night before Thanksgiving and called my sister, I needed her to watch Danny for the night while I took my ex to her parents’ house. I tried to figure this out and what I could do, but going there only made things worse. Because of the yelling and everything that was going on they told me that she was my family now and to do whatever I thought was best. My wife, at the time, agreed to counseling therapy so after Thanksgiving at my sister’s house I made all of the arrangements. These counseling sessions lasted about 7 weeks then what came out no shock to me, she was back to taking the same drugs again. I will not write in detail but the next 6 months were a living hell for me, I stayed home with Danny caring for him around the clock while she did whatever she wanted, some nights she never came home and other nights when she did she was always drunk and/or high. I let her run around without saying much to her; I was building my case to leave with Danny. I put everything I had into nurturing and loving my son, caring for him in every way and especially not to argue or fight in front of him.
Now starting when Danny was 6 months old he became sick almost all the time. Some weeks he would have a virus and others he would have ear infections. Still at times Danny would run a fever for no apparent reason. I spent much of this time back and forth to our pediatrician and specialists; I was the only one to ever take Danny to any of his doctors’ visits since the day I brought him home. Not on one visit sheet, ever, did it say “mother” every single visit sheet said “Father” for all appointments! I put everything I had into being a loving father to my son. My wife, at the time, never changed a diaper she never fed nor bathed Danny and she never held him or sang to him. My heart was broken for my son not for me but for him. I would lay at night with him holding him until he slept soundly then I would cry, I could not imagine how anyone could ignore their own child……
Finally when Danny was 9 months old I left with my son, my wife at the time took an overdose of these pills while her mother was at my home. I took Danny to my parents’ house down the shore and filed for a divorce and sole custody, both legal and physical, of my son. This time my wife’s family stepped in and she went to an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility. I thought it`s too late for this now, but I never knew hard my fight for my son was going to be. Because of her competing this program and being in an outpatient program afterwards I was not guaranteed sole custody of Danny in fact she would have been given joint custody of Danny. I could not and would not have this so I went back to my wife to protect my son.
To be continued….check back for part three.

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