On April 21, 2017, Newell and his wife Jen went to Bora Bora for the trip of a lifetime. In the first few hours of their arrival, a tiny bacterial microbe got into his skin, be it through a small cut, or a bug bite perhaps. That night, he came down with a vicious fever that lasted three days. After bringing a doctor to the island for treatment and medication, Newell improved and they were able to enjoy the balance of their vacation after the fever went down. They arrived home on April 30.
Upon returning to the states, though Newell was then feeling "normal," he went to his family doctor for tests to try to determine what made him ill. All tests were inconclusive and it was determined to have been a virus.
On May 8th, daysafter visiting his family doctor, the fevers started again. Newell went back to his family doctor for more tests and chest X-rays. His X-rays were clear, and he was sent home without treatment while waiting for blood results.
In the days following , Newell's condition deteriorated. Newell now had fevers every few hours, coughing, fatigue, aches and pains, and had lost over 20 pounds.
On Thursday May 18, Jen could no longer manage the fevers and other symptoms at home, and rushed Newell to the closest emergency room that had an infectious disease specialist on site, HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center. After hours at the hospital and many, many tests, Newell was diagnosed with mononucleosis. They told him to take it easy, manage his fevers with ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and that there was no other treatment. He was dismissed from the hospital before the infectious disease specialist saw him.
In the next 3 days, Newell's condition deteriorated beyond imagination. He no longer got out of bed, answered his phone, watched tv, checked emails...just laid in bed waiting for the next fever. By now, with every fever, he struggled to catch his breath.
On Sunday, May 21, early in the AM, Jen rushed Newell to the ER. Within minutes, he was placed on a b-pap machine to help his labored breathing. After more blood tests, cultures, X-rays, CT scan etc, Newell was told he had pulmonary edema, congestive heart failure and there was evidence of an infection in his blood, but it was likely a bad sample. Newell was told he was being admitted into the ICU as soon as a room was available.
Hours later, as Newell struggled to catch his breath, still in the ER, he had a confirmed diagnosis. Severe sepsis, pulmonary edema and an infection in his heart.
That night, Newell was finally admitted to ICU. Within an hour, his breathing became so difficult as his lungs filled with fluid, he was sedated and intubated.
Newell's organs continued to decline over the next couple days. An MRI on his brain on Tuesday, May 23 showed evidence of a cerebral embolism, or stroke. The stroke appears to be significant. Because of the infection on a heart valve, he is at risk for further cerebral embolisms.
On Friday, May 26, Newell was transferred to the Mayo Clinic Phoenix at Jen's request. That night, a drain was placed in Newell's head to reduce brain swelling. On Saturday, the drain wasn't enough, so the neuro team performed a double craniotomy.
His wife Jen has been an incredible example of steadfast strength. The family has made a home in the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic ICU lobby. They welcome friends and family who visit with open arms. Social media has proved itself to be an incredible platform in which to share information and feel the virtual hugs.
Newell's Army has thousands of members. The family has been absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the continuous well wishes for Newell and for each of them.
Jen and Newell's two teenage boys are taking this as anyone would expect. They have decorated his room, and have visited their daddy several times st both hospitals.
To know Newell is to love him. To know Newell is to strive to be a better person. The men who know Newell strive to be better men by his example. By default of him being an amazing person, his nieces and nephews are his children, his friends are his brothers and sisters.
One of Newell's favorite things to do is to go on a four-wheeler back in the desert on a very bumpy ride. He is taking his family and friends for a long and bumpy ride. We are getting dirty and muddy, we are almost falling out of the four wheelers as the bumps get harder, but we are pulled back in by the strength that we see from this man in his hospital bed.