Austin was 19 years old, in his 2nd year of college at USF, a Cadet in the Air Force ROTC program as well he participated actively in Civil Air Patrol .
On January 28, 2016 our lives changed drastically. Austin sent a text message to his father and I stating nothing more than “Im in class but Im going to the ER because I think Ive had a stroke”. I immediately left work took the 2 hour drive to Tampa to be by his side in the ER. After several hours in the ER, undergoing a CT scan and MRI, we were delivered the news that Austin had a brain tumor in his cerebellum which was pressing on his brain stem and was intertwined with vessels and veins as well as being fully attached to his brain stem. .
He was thereafter admitted to the ICU at Florida Hospital where on February 1, 2016 he under went an operation to remove the tumor. Only 60% of the tumor was removed. We were told that this tumor has been in his head probably since birth but had grown to the point that it was effecting his day to day abilities including eating, walking and sleeping. Austin has exhibited minor signs that something was wrong over the past few years but nothing to lead us to believe he had a tumor. He started showing signs of numbness in the left side of his face, loss of hearing in his left ear and left sided weakness. Many of you know Austin is left handed but he had taught himself to write with his right hand due to the inability to control the tremors in his left – this went on for about 4-5 months.
Austin spent a little over a week on the ICU floor, several days in Progressive care and a little over a week in the acute inpatient rehab. He has had to learn to eat, walk and use his left hand all over again. After 3 week in the hospital, he was sent home to continue therapy.
We were able to have him medically withdrawn from school and his aptartment let him out of his Lease without penalty. He has now moved home back to Fort Myers with the hopes of recovering so he can reenter college and pursue his degree in Psychology.
We are now preparing to travel to Duke University to undergo a second surgery with the hopes of removing the remainder of this tumor. Austin still has limited to no use of his left hand due to tremors and his gate is still somewhat unstable. This does not stop him from going to the gym and working on getting stronger. We are hopeful he will be able to return to school in January and ultimately start driving again.