Ryan Schumacher displayed great resilience and strength to his classmates, teachers, family and friends over the five months he went undiagnosed with fungal meningitis and his current recovery.
“While having intense headaches, low grade fevers, fatigue and pain in his pelvic bone from a lesion, he continued to go to school as much as he could,” said Ryan’s mom, Stephanie. “He would push through the pain, eating and drinking even though he repeatedly would throw up, and would still participate in basketball games and go to family events.”
On April 14, 2016, he couldn’t push himself any further and by suppertime, his head pain became beyond excruciating and he experienced his first seizure. His dad rushed him to the hospital where a second seizure occurred in the Blank Children’s Emergency Department, initiating an immediate CT scan finding hydrocephalus. A neurosurgeon placed a temporary shunt, and Ryan spent nearly two weeks in the Blank Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) as the fluid drained off his brain. A permanent shunt was placed on April 22 and revision surgery was completed on April 24.
“Our previously completely healthy son had gone through three serious brain surgeries within two weeks,” Stephanie said.
Throughout the five months doctors were working on a diagnosis, Ryan also went through dozens of tests including MRIs, body scans, bone marrow samples and biopsies, spinal taps, CT scans, X-rays and had to also have nearly a dozen different IV lines over this time. This past summer he had a PICC line for intravenous anti-fungal medicine and hydration administration, as well as a nasogastric feeding tube to help him regain weight lost from his 61-pound frame. Ryan has continued to improve and both were removed before he started attending second grade.
“Although he sometimes has asked ‘why did this happen to me?’, he has never wavered in perseverance,” Stephanie said.
Currently, Ryan is successfully eating and drinking and is within a pound of his original weight. He is very attentive to the details of his care and is near completion of regularly scheduled physical therapy. He is expected to finish treatment with oral anti-fungal medication in 2017.
“Ryan is a very observant, thoughtful and considerate boy,” Stephanie said. “We are very thankful he is continuing to progress towards being a fully healthy Ryan again!”