When Daviess County High School student 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.
Oller was sent to Norton’s Children’s Hospital for further evaluation, a place that would become home for the Oller family much longer than they had expected.
Once in Louisville, the entire Owensboro community began to rally around Oller. 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.
The family was grateful for unexpected blessings such as donations and financial support during a time when their son’s diagnosis seemed so unclear. Doctors at Norton diagnosed Oller with Acute Respiratory Disease. His stay at Norton spanned a total of 60 days.
“We still have no idea what caused him to get sick,” Grant’s mom Kelly Oller, said. “We even met with an infectious disease doctor.”
After discharge, Oller 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 December 21st, nearly three months after the mysterious illness began, Oller came home. He shifted his focus to getting stronger again for his passion: baseball.
Although he sat out during his junior season, he started gearing up for his senior year, working with a trainer at the Healthpark and with his dad at another local gym. Currently, with the uncertainties of Covid-19, Oller has stayed primarily quarantined.
“Everything is going great health wise. Coronavirus is something to take very seriously. He could be at high risk and we don’t know that. The physicians we reached out to recommended that we take precautions,” Grant’s dad, Nick Oller, said.
Due to the pandemic, Oller’s senior season of baseball has unfortunately been cancelled. But he’s still putting in all the rehabilitative work and training geared to prepare him to pitch.
Oller now knows he’ll complete the remainder of his senior school year from home, and he’s also certain about his collegiate plans. He has been accepted at Western Kentucky University, and plans to enter their physical therapy program in the fall. The full six year program allows a student to complete their undergrad and their doctorate. Bouncing back from a life threatening condition and seeing the benefits of physical therapy confirmed this career path for Oller.
“I think it plays a large part. Before I even got sick I thought about PT, and what happened in the last year and a half confirmed that for me. I had a physical therapist when I came back to Owensboro for a couple months. Since then, it’s been training and working out that helped me regain strength, ” Oller said.
Today, Grant’s training includes agility workouts, baseball-oriented exercises, such as targeting back muscles and triceps muscles, rather than just focusing on getting big. Oller says his favorite thing about training is seeing his own improvement.
“The first time it was like: ‘Oh, man, I’m out of breath. I might pass out.’ Now I see how far I have come,” Oller said.
A year and a half later, Oller’s parents feel this has brought the family closer together, teaching them not to take even the little things for granted. Though both Kelly and Nick are still working, they both say their employers are taking measures to keep them safe, and their children have not left the house in several weeks.
Reflecting back on their own ordeal amidst the current pandemic, Kelly said, “We talk about it quite a bit – it’s horrible what our country is going through, but we don’t take it for granted. We try not to be wrapped up in work or other daily events. Once you’ve been through something like this, you appreciate a conversation, daily interactions and a simple hug good night, so much more.”