Medical Mystery: Recap of a News 11 Special Report - News, Weather & Sports

Medical Mystery: Recap of a News 11 Special Report

Report by Jerry Anderson - email | bio

Posted by LS

(WTOL) - Fighting for life: for your own or for your kids. They're battles we don't expect to encounter. Not when life is good -- when the family is happy and everybody's healthy.

This News 11 Special Report is an inspiring story of one local family's near-death nightmare. Even when the experts could offer no hope, fight and faith found a way to win.

December means Christmas and graduation for Defiance College senior Candace Schmitt. It does now. It almost didn't.

She'll never forget the day life, for her, changed. "Tuesday, September 23rd at 11 p.m.," she tells News 11's Jerry Anderson.

A sharp, sudden headache interrupted homework that night and was still painfully present in the morning. Then came pressure behind the eyes and fluid in the ears.

Doctors said it was a sinus infection. By October 12, Candace woke up vomiting. By the next afternoon, after another trip to the doctor, she was awakened from a nap. "When I woke up, my other arm had started to tingle and I couldn't really use it ... like I couldn't put my shoes on. I couldn't hold my shoes."

Her sister drove her home, and they suspected it must be the medication causing Candace to, by now, slur her words.

By the time she got home, "I couldn't function. I couldn't get my sweatshirt on. I couldn't open a door. I could make it up the stairs. I knew where I was. I knew what I wanted to do. In my head, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I could not get my hands to do it." At 21 years-old, she was having a stroke.

They found the brain bleed in the emergency room in Wauseon. An emergency air ambulance flight was next.

Her parents were waiting for her when the chopper touched down in Toledo.

Candace says, "I remember my parents there and I asked them 'What's wrong with me?' My mom says 'Nothing, they're just going to take care of your headache.' I just looked at her and said 'Mom, they don't life-flight you if you don't have anything wrong with you."

Her mother, Shari Schmitt, tells us, "I didn't know until hours later that it might have been the last time I talk to her."

There was more wrong than they knew. An MRI found a 2-centimeter blood clot in the brain's main vein. Attacking that could aggravate the bleed.

The Schmitt's were told at one point, 'There's nothing we can do.'

The professionals, while strangers, began extending sympathy.

"When white jackets are coming up to you saying 'I'm sorry,' it's very grim. It's very grim."

Candace's father,  Dave Schmitt, says "I was told at one point that I was going to have to make a decision: whether we were going to put her on life support or just let her go. I said 'I'm not to that point yet, and I refuse to get to that point.'"

Deciding they were not losing their daughter that night, the Schmitt's pressed for more medical action.

Candace's grandma, who is a long-time air ambulance nurse, told doctors she just needs a chance to fight.

A neurosurgeon said there was a specialist at the University of Michigan hospital. With that, Candace was again on a chopper.

Medicine was used to reduce brain swelling. On the day after the night she almost died, Candace fought to open her eyes. She'd heard a voice.

Candace remembers, "They said, 'Who are you?' I said, 'Candace Marie Schmidt.' They said, 'Where are you?' I said, 'University of Michigan.'"

"We had our daughter. She was in there," say Shari and Dave.

Within a week, Candace was released. She does therapy twice a week to get better feeling and movement to her left hand. A clot remains in the brain and has affected her vision.

Doctors have laid the blame on a change in Candace's birth control prescription. That's one of the lessons she wants to share with others. "Just be aware of the medications you're taking. Know the side effects. Realize what they can do to your body." Candace also says to ask questions and push for answers.

Her parents pushed that night last month --- pushed for answers and action. They have messages, too, about knowing your kids. Know what they're doing and what they're taking. "If they can't communicate and can't fight for themselves, you have to fight for them."

One more lesson, from the mom of the miracle: physicians need to remember that there's the G-factor. And that's God."

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