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  Bill Huzicka Finally Comes Home After Battling Rare, Life Threatening Condition That Began At 2019 Ursuline-Boardman Football Game  
  July 2, 2020 Edition  
      Boardman News Sports
      The day was October 18, 2019 when the Boardman Spartans defeated the Ursuline Fighting Irish, 34-19 at YSU’s Stambaugh Stadium.
      It was a day that Mary Ann Huzicka and her family, of Baymar Dr., will never forget.
      While attending the BHS-UHS grid game that night, Huzicka’s husband, Bill, became sick while sitting in the loge as he watched his cousin, Luke Huzicka, play for the Spartans.
      “I remember Bill looking at me, saying that he was freezing and not feeling well at all,” Mary Ann said. “Bill’s cousin, Jeff, suggested we go to the hospital but we went home where he proceeded to vomit and we thought that he had the flu.
      “He got up, did a tree drop (fell face-flat on the floor) at the stroke of midnight on October 21 that knocked out four of his teeth. We knew then that this was something much more serious.
      “I called the ambulance, that took him to St. Elizabeth Hospital on Belmont Ave. in Youngstown where they kept him overnight. All tests came back negative, they said his electrolytes were off while CT scans, an EKG and MRI ruled out everything we were thinking. By Friday, October 25, his temperature kept rising and he was beet red from his neck up.”
      Her frustration had her turning to her brother, Ed Reese, who along with his wife, Diane, own and operate multiple nursing homes, assisted living and work-out centers in the area.
      “I turned to my brother and sister-in-law because I had no idea as to what was going on,” she added. “We called the Cleveland Clinic ICU, only to find out that they were full so Bill was sent to Hillcrest in Mayfield.
      “The fever continued, he remained beet red and after retiring from the U.S. Post Office three years ago he basically did the things that he enjoyed most, which was be with family and friends. He put on 30 pounds and weighed nearly 200 pounds, only to drop down to 125 pounds during this eight-month nightmare.
      “He’s about 148 pounds now, slowly but surely adding more weight to his frame.”
      Bill’s circuitous journey started last October at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown and included subsequent stops at Hillcrest in Mayfield, Briarfield Manor, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boardman and the Cleveland Clinic ICU. From there he was shipped to Boardman Select, returned to the Cleveland Clinic-Neurology, went back to Boardman Select, was off to Briarfield Manor, back to St. Elizabeth’s in Boardman with his last stop Briarfield Manor, from where he was released this past weekend.
      Doctors had the hardest time pinpointing and diagnosing his health problem.
      “God Bless the doctors who cared for my husband because they never gave up hope,” Mary Ann stated.
      During his first stay at Briarfield Manor in November, Bill’s temperature spiked to 104 degrees with Dr. Jim Demidovich stating Bill needed to get to the hospital. He was then packed in ice and sent to St. Elizabeth’s in Boardman where his family doctor, Dr. David Rich, told Mary Ann that they couldn’t get him regulated.
      “Another doctor then informed me that he had a rash on his neck. Bill called me Thanksgiving morning, everyone in the family was there and he said I’ll bet you never thought I’d be calling you. I cried. He then went crazy, asking me what I was doing to him. They sedated him, sent him to the Cleveland Clinic ICU and after they took him in, doctors told me that he had a very complicated case.”
      The Cleveland Clinic did an MRI, had him tied down and for almost four weeks he was in an induced coma.
      When doctors felt that his bladder cancer spread to his lungs and was Stage 4, Mary Ann’s heart and those of her three daughter’s – Shannon, Bridget and Meghan – just sunk.
      A PET scan confirmed no cancer so new life was breathed by all family members.
      “They then told me that they were going to call the head infectious disease doctor, Dr. Patricia Bartley,” Mary Ann noted. “That’s when things began to unfold. After multiple tests, they went with mycobacterium M bovis and began treating him with a tuberculosis drug. It’s not an antibiotic where you are alright in two or three days. Instead, it takes months.
      “To make a long story short, in January, Dr. Bartley wanted to do a brain biopsy as Bill had hundreds of dandruff-like specs in his brain, bacteria that made it look like a snow globe.
      “She needed to know if it was mycobacterium M bovis, lymphoma or auto-immune disease, noting she couldn’t treat one without knowing about the others. The doctors noted they had never done a biopsy so small on a lesion and after mall the other tests proved negative, Dr. Bartley called me, noting it was, in fact, mycobacterium M bovis and said she can treat this.”
      While Bill made strides, his support team would soon receive the devastating news that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was shutting everything down.
      While no family member could see Bill, the upside was that his physical therapist just happened to be his son-in-law, Mike Draia, who kept Mary Ann and the family posted daily and on top of the situation.
      Fast forward to this past week when Bill was cleared to return home after 241 days away from his own bed.
      “Dr. Bartley told me that Bill was one of just five recorded cases in the world and the only case recorded in the United States. He’s a Cleveland Clinic case study,” Mary Ann said. “Dr. Bartley told me that by next year, you’ll have him totally back.”
      To celebrate Bill’s arrival home, a drive-by parade on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., led by a fire truck, four U.S. Postal Service trucks – he spent 38 years with the USPS, retiring in October of 2016 – and over 100 cars boasting family and friends showed their appreciation for the courageous fight he has put forth. Signs and cards welcomed him back home.
      “It has been a rough eight months for our family,” daughter Meghan added. “His return home on Saturday was emotional but exciting for everyone. He’s been there for everyone over the years, now it was time for everyone to be there for him.”
      Daughter Bridget called the ordeal a challenge for everyone.
      “Obviously, we are happy that dad is finally home but the last eight months have felt much longer that that,” she stated. “The up’s and down’s have been challenging in that he’d take one step forward and two steps back.
      “My father is such a strong family man so to have him home is such a complete blessing. It was very emotional on Saturday but so much fun.”
      Reese had plenty to say about the doctors’ efforts and the places that took care of his brother-in-law.
      “Dr. Patricia Bartley and her staff at the Cleveland Clinic wouldn’t give up on Bill until they got it right,” he noted. “The chance of a Boardman guy to have one of the five documented cases of mycobacterium M bovis worldwide is unbelievable. The treatment continues but it is so great to see the Cleveland Clinic in action and what they have at their fingertips.
      “Being in health care, Diane and I have never witnessed anything like this. Communication from the clinic on down was tremendous while our staff at Briarfield, Dr. Jim Demidovich and the staff at Boardman Select were equally as great. I was proud of the care that he received locally.”
      Like her sisters, daughter Shannon was emotional on her father’s arrival home.
      “It is so great to have our dad back home, it almost feels like a dream,” she said. “There were times we weren’t sure he’d make it home or exactly what his best-case scenario. Our dad is the kindest man and we had so many people praying for his recovery and return home.
      “Our kids really missed ‘Papa Bill,’ who up until his fall in October was still doing a lot of school drop offs and pick-ups for us. For him to be back at home and in his recliner, it feels surreal but we are so happy for him to be back
      “We are looking forward to his continued recovery and the day he is strong enough to once again dance around to the Ohio State University fight song.”
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