TOMS RIVER – It would not be an understatement to describe Megan Franzoso’s life before early last September as a whirlwind of activity.
She worked three jobs – as a full-time emergency medical technician for Berkeley Township and part-time for the Tri-Boro and Silverton first aid squads.
“I just like helping people,” she said in an interview at the family’s Maine Street home in Toms River. “It’s in my blood.”
It certainly is.
Her grandfather, Jerry Geoghegan, was one of the Silverton First Aid Squad’s founders back in 1964. Her mother, Deborah, saved two ambulances when the squad building caught on fire in 1969. She drove them through the garage doors of the burning building. Many of her other relatives are also squad members, including her grandmother.
And Megan was already continuing the family tradition. Until Sept. 7.
She wasn’t feeling well that day and she had a high fever. Her mother Deborah took her to the emergency room at Community Medical Center, where Megan had a grand mal seizure. Shortly after that, she went into cardiac arrest for 45 minutes.
She was transferred by helicopter to Temple University Medical Center in Philadelphia. She spent weeks in the intensive care unit, in a medically induced coma.
But considering that she was on life support for several weeks, Megan, 28, is literally a walking miracle today.
Megan had already been on beta blockers for two years for rapid heartbeats. It turned out that the beta blockers caused the seizure and cardiac arrest. Megan was allergic to them, her mother said.
Megan’s short term memory is “kind of gone,” and she still has some brain damage after the cardiac arrest, her mother said.
Her muscles were “contracted” from lying immobile for so long. She had to learn how swallow again before she could come off a feeding tube.
She lives at home and goes to rehab for speech and physical therapy three times a week for three hours a day. Her doctors estimate it could take six months to two years for her brain to hopefully regenerate, her mother said.
And she still has her pacemaker, which Megan refers to as “old Sparky” to keep her heart rate stable. But no more beta blockers, ever.
“No,” Megan said. “No way.”
She knows it will be some time, but she can’t wait to get back to work.
“It’s boring,” she said. “I want to go back to work.”
And the Franzosos can’t say enough about the support they have received from many, especially Berkeley Township. Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele even visited Megan at Temple.
“She was awesome,” Megan said.
“The mayor, the council, they are very supportive,” Deborah said.
A number of other local organizations have also held benefits and dinners, with the proceeds going for Megan’s bill. Her coworkers donated some of their paid days off when Megan’s insurance ran out. Right now, her medical bills are being paid by COBRA.
Although the township insurance hasn’t yet paid any of Megan’s medical bills, Deborah is confident they will be able to straighten things out.
Megan’s uncle, Brian Geoghegan, set up a GoFundMe page for her shortly after the accident. As of early this week, more than $32,000 of the $75,000 has been raised. If you would like to donate, go to gofundme.com/megan039s-first-aid#