Levi Lastine is a teenager who loves to skateboard. But in December, seemingly out of the blue, he became seriously ill and almost died. He was diagnosed with a condition that most people believe can't happen to someone that young.
"I had this weird feeling, like something just hit me in the back of the head and I stumbled," said Levi.
He can still remember the morning of Dec. 18 very clearly, but from that afternoon on he doesn't remember a thing. That day, the 14-year-old woke up with a pounding headache and called in sick to school. He tried to take a shower to feel better, but the pain took over and Levi suddenly lost his ability to speak, walk or even move.
"I started crying because I thought he was dying. He says, 'Dad, I'm dying.' I didn't know what to do," said Levi's father, Fred Krueger.
The teenager's younger brother called 911, and he was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester where at first doctors were baffled. Levi was put into a medically-induced coma over the Christmas holiday for 10 days. When he woke up doctors had determined that a blood clot in his neck caused him to have a stroke.
"It was very hard. There was a lot of sleepless nights, not knowing what was going to happen. Yeah, just very scary. Not even wanting to leave the room to go to the bathroom, you just wanted to be right at his bedside," said Levi's mother, Billie Lastine.
"I was devastated. I thought, 'How can this be? He is 14 years old,'" said Krueger.
Levi's stroke was so severe that it nearly paralyzed the left side of his body, and doctors questioned whether he would ever be able to walk and talk again.
"I didn't know what a stroke was. All I knew was, 'Oh god, I'm going to be in the hospital a long time," said Levi.
But up to eight hours of therapy a day have gotten Levi to the point where he can now stand. His speech is also back, along with his sense of humor.
"I've lost taste over this, and that'd better come back because I don't feel like eating old people food," said Levi.
Levi, who is now 15, has made a good pal in the hospital: Jack the service dog. Still, he misses his friends and skateboarding.
"It was his determination that made him where he is. I'm very, very proud of Levi. He is the inspiration in my life," said Krueger.
Doctors are not sure how the blood clot formed in Levi's neck, or if it will ever happen again.
Levi had had severe headaches in the months leading up to his stroke, and doctors said that is one of many symptoms that can lead to a stroke.
Others include: trouble walking, seeing and speaking, dizziness, confusion and numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
WCCO, by John Lauritsen, 4/12/2010