It was Christmas Day, and Breen - an lively 44-year-old whose concept of enjoyable goes water snowboarding on Lake Michigan or enjoying pickup basketball - is never brief on power.
However the Grand Rapids, Michigan, resident insisted he actually was feeling ailing. And two days after his obscure, flulike signs had begun, they'd taken on a wierd new type: a razor-sharp abdomen ache so highly effective that Breen might not stroll.
Julie Breen, 33, took her husband to the emergency room, the place preliminary exams for strep throat and the flu got here again damaging. Docs despatched Breen house with a prescription for a nausea medicine and pain-relieving drugs to get him by means of the subsequent couple of nights.
"They only did not work," the daddy of three advised The Washington Submit. "I felt worse the subsequent morning, and I stated, 'We gotta go to the hospital.'"
Breen was no stranger to stomach ache. He'd endured appendicitis earlier than.
However this was totally different.
"One thing simply wasn't proper," he stated.
Docs quickly found that one thing was very mistaken with Breen.
He had contracted strep throat; not a typical pressure of the micro organism however a uncommon model that might come near killing him - ultimately claiming his palms and his ft.A GoFundMe web page that goals to assist the household has raised almost $90,000 in lower than three weeks. The cash will probably be used to cowl medical prices and efforts to assist Breen adapt to life with out appendages.
When he first arrived on the hospital, docs had no concept what was really ailing him. About 24 hours after he was admitted, docs appeared on the outcomes of a CT scan and rushed Breen into exploratory surgical procedure after deciding he might have ruptured his ulcer.
What they found shocked and additional confused them.
"They opened him up and located 1 ½ liters of contaminated pus in his stomach area," Julie Breen stated.
"We met with the surgeon after surgical procedure and she or he sat us down and stated, 'I've by no means seen this earlier than and I do not prefer it,'" Julie Breen added. "'I do not know what it's.'"
The doctor, Elizabeth Steensma, an acute care surgeon at Spectrum Well being Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, stated infections of the stomach are uncommon - and any time docs discover that a lot materials in somebody's stomach, it is often the results of a punctured organ.
Nevertheless, docs could not discover any holes, leaving them at a loss for explaining the buildup of pus, Steensma stated.
Docs despatched a pattern of the fabric to a microbiology lab for testing. Across the similar time, they started to note a brilliant purple rash on Breen's torso.
A last clue to his mysterious ailment arrived when Steensma found that Breen's son had lately caught strep throat.
After a tradition got here again constructive for strep, Steensma was capable of affirm that Breen had contracted the an infection. She stated docs decided that the strep had traveled from Breen's throat to his abdomen. The journey was so uncommon, she stated, that it had occurred in solely 32 different instances, most of them involving feminine sufferers.
Breen's pressure of strep, she famous, was notably robust, and his physique was unable to defend itself.
"It is estimated that there are over 1 million instances per yr, and that is solely the second case that has ever been reported of strep touring from a male affected person's throat to his abdomen," Steensma stated.
Though docs had recognized the issue, Breen's battle was simply starting. Docs stated his an infection brought on him to enter extreme septic shock; inside hours, his physique started to close down. Docs informed Breen's spouse to name relations and allow them to know her husband won't survive.
"You are by no means ready to listen to these phrases from a physician," she stated.
Steensma stated Breen's state of affairs was among the many most dire she'd encountered as a physician.
"He had multi-system organ failure and wanted a ventilator," she stated. "He had renal failure and acute kidney damage and liver damage and abnormalities in coagulation of his blood clotting. His blood strain was so profoundly low, he just about required most doses of three drugs to take care of it."
"He was preventing for his life," she added, noting that her affected person's kidneys had begun to close down and that he required a continuing infusion of antibiotics.
Though the blood strain medicine was protecting her husband alive, Julie Breen stated, it additionally had a devastating aspect impact: By redirecting blood movement to his organs, the medicine was shutting off blood to his extremities, which resulted in necrosis (tissue dying) of his arms and ft.
Breen turned a nook and commenced to point out indicators of restoration a number of days after surgical procedure, Steensma stated. By the top of January, he was launched from the intensive care unit and transferred to an acute rehab hospital, the place he bonded with employees and was capable of cease dialysis, his spouse stated.
Then, this week, he underwent the primary of 4 surgical procedures to partially amputate each of his ft, his left hand and a number of fingers on his proper hand.
"The straightforward issues like getting up from the sofa to get a snack or grabbing a tissue to blow my nostril - I can not do these issues with out assist," he stated from residence, a day after his first amputation surgical procedure. "It is irritating, I am not gonna lie, however I've hope that I am going to regain my mobility and the power to deal with myself."
"I am not going to let it beat me down," he added.
Steensma referred to as her affected person's restoration "superb."
"I can not even start to inform you how grateful all of us are that he is doing so properly," she stated. "He is residence together with his household. His kidneys have recovered. He is off dialysis, and he is regaining his life. That is the perfect we might want for him."
Earlier than his life-threatening sickness, Breen bought life insurance coverage and his spouse labored as a fifth-grade instructor. Breen is not employed. His spouse, who has taken time without work work, is now the household's sole breadwinner.
Jill Breen stated she has no concept how the longer term will play out. However, she added, when her household displays on the previous few months, they're truly grateful.
"Issues are onerous, however on the finish of the day I've a husband - and my youngsters have a dad," she stated.
Breen stated he hopes to obtain prosthetic limbs. And whereas the approaching months could also be marked by uncertainly, there's one factor he is aware of he needs to do.
"I might like to have the ability to water ski once more," he stated. "That was an enormous ardour of mine. I'll not be capable of do it on the similar degree, however simply getting on the market can be particular."