On July 25, 2016 Casey was admitted to the Emergency Room at River Falls Hospital. He had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks and finally decided it was time to go in. They knew something was wrong, so they tested him for Lyme’s disease and numerous other bite-related illnesses, with no answers. They gave him a set of strong antibiotics and sent him home to rest and recover. A few days later, on July 27, Casey was found unresponsive in his home and again rushed to the local River Falls Emergency Room. The River Falls Medical Center was able to stabilize him and he was promptly sent via ambulance to United Hospital in St. Paul where they started more rounds of tests to try to figure out what was going on.
Casey finally woke up on July 29, 2016. He was bruised, sore, and very confused. The staff at United continued with test after test, from MRIs to CT Scans, to try to figure out what had caused his unconsciousness. They finally discovered it was Bacterial Meningitis. After finding that it was Bacterial Meningitis, they decided that it was okay to move Casey from the ICU to a regular room to recover and receive antibiotics to kill the infection. Some of the side effects of meningitis can be permanent, and we were very lucky that Casey has only suffered from memory loss, which seems to be better every day. He was able to read, recognized his immediate family and close friends, and was able to fully operate his phone, which were all such positive things.
On August 1, 2016, Casey was finally allowed to have his breathing tube removed and also allowed to start eating soft foods and drinking thick liquids. The next day he was ready to get out of bed, and made sure we knew it by just getting himself out of bed. He was not very happy to be in the hospital, as he had a very lengthy hospital stay when he was 16 for a massive 4-wheeler accident that took his right lung. But, he also knew that he was very sick and needed to be taken care of in a way that wasn’t possible at home.
After a few days of antibiotics and nurses keeping a close eye on him, the doctors at United decided that it was okay for Casey to come home. This was wonderful news to all of us as we were expecting him to have to remain in the hospital for months. When he came home on August 4, he was followed by a nurse and a giant box of antibiotics that we were taught how to administer at home. Before the nurse left, she took Casey’s blood pressure and it was dangerously low, so it was back to River Falls Emergency Room once again. Upon arrival at the Emergency Room, he was given fluids and released a few hours later when his blood pressure stabilized. The next two and a half weeks were mostly uneventful, just filled with doctor appointments, antibiotics, and a PICC line that needed to be kept clean. All was seemingly going according to plan, and things were starting to look up. Casey was eating regularly and excelling at physical therapy and generally appeared to be on the right path to recovery.
During the second week at home, Casey started to experience night sweats and a general uneasy feeling. So, back to the clinic it was, and again there were no immediate answers. On Sunday the 21st of August, it got worse. He was experiencing night sweats, was unable to catch his breath or get a good night’s sleep. Monday morning he was back at the clinic for regularly scheduled tests, but also to ask about the shortness of breath, night sweats, and lack of sleep. Upon arriving at the clinic on Monday, the staff recognized that he was not looking so good and decided to, once again, send him back to the Emergency Room. While he was there, they did numerous scans and tests to try to determine what was wrong. A chest x-ray gave a small amount of answers when it showed fluid inside of his lung, which they thought to be pneumonia. The staff at the River Falls Hospital decided that it would be in his best interest to be back in the care of United Hospital. So, back to St. Paul it was.
Monday was spent with the infectious disease doctor, who was certain that it was actually not pneumonia, but instead, a heart condition. It had already been a very long day for Casey, so they held off further tests until Tuesday morning. Tuesday started with a pulmonologist that decided the fluid in his lung needed to be removed. He also ordered an echocardiogram, which showed significant deterioration of the Mitral Valve in his heart, when compared to the initial echocardiogram he’d had done the first day at United in July. It was then decided that the valve needed to be replaced. In most cases, this is a very common surgical procedure. But in Casey's case, since he is missing a lung, his heart has moved. Generally, your heart is in the left side cavity of your chest, and Casey's is more centrally located, and turned a little to the side. This makes it much more challenging and turns a 3 hour surgery into an 8 hour surgery. The valve replacement is scheduled for this Friday morning, August 26.