When Daviess County High School junior Grant Oller was admitted to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital on Sept. 24, 2018, his family was unaware of the long road that was in front of them. Two nights before his admittance, Grant had been enjoying the evening at a school dance, but by Sunday, he had fallen extremely ill.
According to Nick Oller, Grant’s dad, the care they received locally was excellent, and he said without the quick move to action, which included transporting Grant to Louisville, Nick said his son may not be alive today.
“While here in Owensboro, a Respiratory Therapist named Rachel came to check on Grant. She immediately recognized that he was struggling pretty bad,” Nick said.
When she learned of Grant’s quick decline she recommended that Grant be transferred to Norton Children’s Hospital. According to Nick, she was an advocate for them to quickly seek greater help for their son.
“She stayed with us until Grant got in the helicopter, even after her shift,” Grant’s mom, Kelly said.
Rachel told them later that she read updates on social media and continued to hope for a turnaround in Grant’s condition.
Once in Louisville, the entire Owensboro community began to rally around Grant. Within a day or two of being admitted to Norton, the DCHS baseball team held a vigil, with a crowd of teammates and community members attending. That night, the family received several donations, which Nick said that while taking donations was not the point of the night, the family was grateful for this unexpected blessing during a time when their son’s diagnosis seemed so unclear.
“The whole time we were there [at Norton], we had unbelievable support,” Nick said. “He sure gave us a scare for the first few days.”
Doctors at Norton diagnosed Grant with Acute Respiratory Disease. His stay at Norton spanned a total of 60 days. The Oller family describes the care they received under the physicians and nurses there as exceptional.
“We still have no idea what caused him to get sick,” Kelly Oller said. “We even met with an infectious disease doctor.”
After discharge from Norton, Grant was moved to Frazier Rehab to begin regaining his muscle control and strength. According to his parents, that was a tough challenge for him. When he arrived, he couldn’t walk and started with working for just seconds at a time on sitting up.
On Dec. 21, nearly three months after his initial hospital visit, Grant came home. Shortly after, Dr. Valerie Warren contacted the Ollers requesting to hold a candlelight prayer ceremony outside the Oller’s home on Christmas Eve. Community members sang and prayed for Grant’s continued recovery.
“It can be a busy night for many, but they spent it with us; we thought it was pretty neat that Valerie thought of our family and arranged the special visit on such short notice after we made it home,” Nick said.
Beyond grateful, the Ollers believe the whole experience has changed their outlook on life. Going through a medical scare has encouraged them to give back and help others in this community. It also changed the way they view day-to-day tasks and feel blessed to have their son well.
“It used to be ‘Man, do I have to go do this?’ Then we think back to where we were a year ago and now feel so appreciative,” Nick said.
With the one year anniversary of Grant’s hospitalization approaching, the Oller family plans to see Rachel from OHRH and thank her for her continued interest in Grant.
As for Grant, he says he’s getting stronger every day. He has been meeting with a personal trainer since May, and according to his mom is stronger than ever before. As a senior baseball player at DCHS, Grant is working hard to finish his baseball career strong. He does not take this experience for granted.
“It was all pretty surreal. I was a regular teenager at a high school dance and then a few days later I’m on life support,” Grant said. “It makes you appreciate life more. I thank God every day I get to wake up in my bed even if it’s just to go to school.”
After high school, Grant plans to attend Western Kentucky University and pursue physical therapy.
“We are just so thankful,” Nick said. “God’s been good to us.”