On Sunday, Father’s Day – a day of gratitude – the Chicago Tribune ran an inspirational, front-page story on one of our own, Senior Director of Investigations Carl Dobrich.

While Carl shared his story with me in the past, I bet many of you will quickly discover after reading this article how thankful we are to have Carl with us. You will discover what a beautiful family Carl and his wife, Kathy, have with their four amazing children.  You will get a glimpse into the talent and experience Carl brings to our team.  And, most importantly, you’ll be moved by the fact that, sometimes, affairs of the heart go the right way.

Father’s Day Can Have Special Meaning

Last September, Carl came home from attending his daughter’s volleyball game and taking his son to a football game and he knew something was amiss.  He couldn’t talk, he had chest pains and the left side of his jaw was in excruciating pain. Twenty-four hours after being rushed to the hospital by his wife, the doctors had a diagnosis – Carl was suffering from an aortic dissection, which is when a layer of the aorta tears.  Many of you may have first heard of this condition following actor John Ritter’s death from the ailment in 2003.  Ninety percent of patients who have an undetected or untreated aortic dissection die.

Eighteen Long Hours

Fortunately, Carl’s doctors were able to diagnose him, but his recovery was hard fought. Carl was in surgery for hours. Doctors told his family that his condition was dire and they could not yet determine if he had suffered a stroke. I can only imagine what those 18 hours were like for Kathy and their children.  But following the surgery and four days in a coma, Carl regained consciousness. For someone who had a 26-year career with the Illinois State Police – someone who was accustomed to 18-hour work days and having spent two years overseeing a team of investigators following countless leads about the Drew Peterson case – I know the next few months were hard on Carl. He had to regain his ability to get out of bed, walk long distances and speak above a whisper.  But the thing that kept him motivated throughout the whole ordeal was thinking of his family.  He wanted to take his children hunting for the first time.  Coach his son’s football team.  Go fishing. Carl just celebrated his 55th birthday and his doctors say his prognosis is good, so long as he maintains a healthy diet and exercise and keeps his stress level low.

Gratefulness and a New Perspective

Here at Hillard Heintze, we focus on “protecting what matters,” and Carl’s story really puts that into perspective to me.  Maybe all of us can learn from his story and think about what matters most to each of us – our family and friends – and remember to be grateful for and appreciative of them every day.