This is our 35 year old son, Kevin Brunette. He is bright, ambitious, and full of life. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he’s incredibly hard-working, courageous, and strong. Kevin had the best future all mapped out with his two amazing daughters, wonderful girlfriend, and goofy dog . . . until Monday, August 13, 2018.
What Happened: At 1:30 a.m., Kevin called his mom, Kathy. That call set in motion a chain of events that ultimately saved Kevin’s life. Through slurred words, Kevin struggled to convey that he thought he had a migraine headache; seconds later, Kathy heard a moan and a thud. Knowing something was terribly wrong, she called 911. Kevin was transported to Theda Care Medical Center in Appleton where he was immediately intubated and an urgent CT scan was obtained. The scan revealed a brain hemorrhage with a very large blood clot on the right side of Kevin’s brain, indicating that our otherwise healthy son had suffered a massive stroke. Kevin was then life-flighted to Theda Care Regional Medical Center in Neenah where a neurosurgical team was assembling and preparing for emergency surgery.
The Surgery: Kevin underwent a craniotomy – a bone flap was temporarily removed from his skull (and preserved for potential future replacement) in order to access the brain and evacuate the blood clot. The neurosurgeons told the family 3 things after surgery:
1. Had Kevin not made that phone call to his mom and gotten prompt medical intervention, he was probably within 30 minutes of dying.
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe, Kevin’s stroke was a 9.8.
3. The surgery was a success, and Kevin now had a fighting chance.
The Fight: Following the craniotomy, Kevin was put in a medically-induced coma for several days to give his brain and body some time to rest. In the ensuing weeks, as he slowly began to emerge from the coma, he faced a series of obstacles that tested his strength and resolve, including four more surgeries.
- The 2nd surgery on day 12 (8/24/2018) addressed a deep infection under the incision site.
- The 3rd surgery on day 16 (8/28/2018) involved performing a tracheostomy as well as placing a feeding tube into his stomach.
- The 4th surgery on day 26 (9/7/2018) required the placement of a shunt to redirect excess cerebral spinal fluid.
- The 5th surgery on day 44 (9/25/2018) repaired the craniotomy skin flap utilizing titanium mesh instead of the previously preserved bone flap; in addition, a skin graft was taken from Kevin’s thigh and placed onto his head.
Despite 19 days in the ICU, 5 surgeries in 7 weeks, 10 round-trip ambulance rides for hyperbaric oxygen therapy at another hospital in Appleton, 43 days with a trach tube, countless medications including powerful IV antibiotics, dozens of CT scans, other imaging and tests, and a tremendous amount of pain, Kevin has continued fighting to survive and return to his family.
The Miracles: Although it has been a roller coaster of a medical journey, often feeling like “one step forward and two steps back,” Kevin and his family have been blessed with an outpouring of love, prayers, and positive thoughts. Along the way, miracles happened – from placing that call to his mom, to fighting to survive after each and every surgery, to Kevin giving hand squeezes and the “thumbs up” sign early on, writing his name, using sign language to say “I love you” to his girls, and finally beginning to speak again. In addition, Kevin had countless doctors, nurses, and specialists that provided exceptional around-the-clock care. Just before his 5th surgery, Kevin shook the hand of the neurosurgeon who saved his life, and then, in true Marine form, saluted the doctor as well. During one of his last hyperbaric therapy appointments, Kevin was asked, “How do you feel?” His response was, “Encouraged.” Now that’s positive thinking!
With our eyes on Kevin’s path forward, we’re trying to do everything we can to help him heal. After 65 days at Theda Care Regional Medical Center, Kevin was moved to a long-term acute care hospital in Madison on October 17th (his daughter’s 16th birthday). The goal there will be for him to become medically stable so that the focus can then shift to rehabilitation. Currently, Kevin has very little movement on his left side and he undoubtedly has a very long road ahead of him, but if anyone can make a full recovery from this, it’s Kevin! His strength and determination will see him through the coming months. No doubt the values and lessons he learned in the Marine Corps will help Kevin to endure the fight ahead.
As a father, son, brother, boyfriend, colleague and friend, Kevin means the world to all that know and love him. Please help us to help him. Any contribution you can provide will go a long way in helping our exceptionally determined, funny, loving, and brave son move toward a full recovery. Feel free to post and share this page with all your friends and relatives.
And thank you – from the bottom of our hearts – for all the love and support you have shown for Team Kevin!
******We do have a GoFundMe page as well ( https://www.gofundme.com/kevin039s-journey-to-recovery?sharetype=teams&member=984692&rcid=r01-15408511411-cc21b878366c4706&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w
). This GoFundMe effort is intended to give Kevin every opportunity to achieve his goal of a full recovery by assuring that he continues to receive the best medical care, therapy, and supportive care that is available, regardless of the cost limitations insurance companies often place on this type of long-term recovery process. While Kevin’s insurance should cover many medical costs for now, there will be out-of-pocket expenses for the remainder of this year and certainly his foreseeable future.