Andy was “hitting the ball out of the park before this,” said his father. “He was respected, owned a home, had great friends, then all of a sudden, bingo.” After Andy told his mother he felt ill, his mother called the next morning and Andy answered the phone but didn’t speak. They rushed over and found him conscious but unable to talk. Andy was taken to UC Medical Center and he slipped into a coma. The attending physicians were baffled by Andy’s condition, but eventually concluded that it was NORSE syndrome: new-onset refractory status epilepticus. In a classic presentation, a young individual falls ill and begins seizing uncontrollably. Mortality can reach up to 50 percent, and more than half of the cases remain a mystery.
Andy was scheduled for surgery and afterwards, was unresponsive and remained in a vegetative state. After 10 months Andy began to wake up and was able to speak. He was considered “a save,” a survivor whose case defied explanation, eluded diagnosis, and for months was impossible to resolve. His physician said it was one of the most dramatic cases they had seen. Eventually Andy left the hospital and began what would be 9 months in rehabilitation facilities.
Once Andy was released from rehabilitation he faced the daunting task of going home, that’s when the VNA stepped in. After being in the hospital and rehabilitation facilities for over a year, Andy’s insurance had run out and being only 38, he was only eligible for Medicaid. VNA was the only home health agency in Cincinnati that would accept Andy as a patient due to his lack of coverage. Because of the VNA’s partnership with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the VNA is able to care for the patients who fall through the cracks, like Andy. Andy’s only care givers were his elderly parents who were not equipped to handle the challenges of taking care of their adult son. Andy definitely needed assistance, and without the VNA, he would have been forced to enter into a nursing home. The VNA staff came in and taught Andy’s parents how to care for his personal needs and to assist with his physical therapy. The VNA also helped to ensure that the family had the proper equipment such as a Hoyer lift and shower chair. Every day remains a struggle and it is going to be a long road to recovery but thankfully, the VNA is there to make the road a little smoother.