By MARGARET DWIGGINS
A case of viral encephalitis kept Riverdale High School senior Tyson Frey from his prom last weekend. So the staff at Blanchard Valley Hospital brought the prom to him.
Tyson’s mother, Tina Frey, said her son was disappointed to learn he wouldn’t be released in time to make it to his prom. So he and his girlfriend, Shiloh Powers, decided to dress up in their prom attire and spend the evening together at the hospital. The couples they had planned to go to the prom with also planned to stop by on their way to the big event.
Tina asked the intensive care unit staff if there was a room where they could go to have a small celebration and take photos.
Tina said that the hospital’s response was “We’ve got this.”
By Friday evening, hospital personnel had decorated the main lobby with balloons and a banner. They provided a boutonniere for Tyson and a corsage for Shiloh, and a photographer. There was even a pianist, and the couples were all able to take the floor for a dance or two. Tina estimated that about 40 teens came to the hospital before leaving for Riverdale’s prom, except for Shiloh, who stayed with Tyson at the hospital.
Tina said the lobby gathering was very touching and there were lots of tears from family, friends and hospital visitors and staff.
Later, Tyson received a phone call from his friends, telling him that he’d been voted prom king.
Tyson had suffered some facial paralysis earlier in the week, but at the end of the evening “for a kid that couldn’t smile two days before, he had the biggest smile,” his mother said.
Tyson was not released from the hospital until Monday, after nine days in intensive care. Those nine days were “an absolute emotional roller coaster,” Tina said, and “the most frightening experience a parent can ever have.”
The ordeal began May 9, when one of Tyson’s sisters found Tyson, 18, unresponsive in his bedroom. Tina said Tyson had been sick with what she thought was a sinus infection. He’d had a fever and complained of a headache, but he’d been to a doctor and had gone to school May 8 and planned to go to school that Friday.
Tyson’s father, Harlan, and a brother immediately drove Tyson to Blanchard Valley Hospital’s emergency room. Although he was not in a coma nor on a ventilator, he did not wake up until Sunday, Tina said.
Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, can be caused by a number of factors. In Tyson’s case, it appeared to be a secondary viral infection.
Before his release, Tina said doctors initially told the family that Tyson would need to be on intravenous care for a couple of more weeks and might also need a short-term stay at a nursing home for intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy. But Tyson exceeded expectations and was released with no further treatment needed other than plenty of rest.
“His recovery has been miraculous,” Tina said. “He made leaps and bounds every day due to prayer, and, I’m sure, because of the ICU nurses.”
The Freys have six children, all of whom banded around their brother. Prayers also came from Tyson’s wide circle of friends. The family lives in Carey and attends Our Lady of Consolation Church in Carey, where Tyson has been active in youth group, forming friendships with teens from throughout the area. Shiloh attends Upper Sandusky High School.
Tina said friends from Fostoria, Gibsonburg, Carey and Upper Sandusky, in addition to the staff and students at Riverdale High School, held prayer services for Tyson. Three area schools held “white T-shirt days,” when students were asked to wear white as a reminder to pray for Tyson.
Because he still has some brain swelling and still suffers from weakness, Tyson will be unable to return to school for the rest of the year. School officials have cleared him to graduate, his mother said, and his goal is to be able to make it to the ceremony.
“My head is still spinning from all of the support and prayers and great care we received,” Tina said.
Although Tyson is not at 100 percent yet, the family is hopeful for a full recovery.
“I just need to sing the praises of my kids and the kids that prayed and the doctors. It’s been such an incredible recuperation,” Tina said.
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