Howdy! My name is Andrew Case, also known as Drew, Du, or Drew-boy. I have many nicknames, and I also immediately give nicknames to those around me. At six weeks old, I was diagnosed with Severe Congenital Neutropenia, which basically means I do not have enough white blood cells (neutrophils) to fight off infection. My body was essentially a country without an army, and even the simplest papercut could be life threatening.
Because of my disorder, I’ve spent most of my life in and out of hospitals and have had some unbelievable experiences. Half of my lung was removed at age two to prevent pneumonia from killing me. My tear duct was operated on due to a flesh-eating bacteria. And beyond that, I’ve had countless other operations from more infections over the last 34 years of my life. To say the least, hospitals and doctors have become my other family and home away from home.
The average person would likely not notice that anything is different about me. This is because I have persevered through these obstacles by working with my hands as a laborer in construction, as well as during my most recent job as a wind turbine technician.
Now at 34 years old, I am facing some of the biggest challenges of my life. On October 28, 2020 at 4 AM, after I had spent hours violently throwing up and sitting in excruciating pain, my girlfriend rushed me to the ER. It turned out that my blood had become septic after an infection that savagely invaded my body. Later that day, the nurse found me passed out in the hallway, and I was transferred to the ICU for the next 12 days. During this time, I had four emergency surgeries to remove the infection from my intestine and right hip. I even went into cardiac arrest during the first surgery; the doctors were fortunately able to keep me alive. Before the second surgery, my family and I were told that I may not live through it. However, yet again, with prayers, God, family, and skilled doctors and nurses, I survived!
During this period, my kidneys and liver began to fail, and I developed jaundice. But with a combination of prayers, blood transfusions, and dialysis, my organs had begun to function properly again.
Furthermore, in order to save my life, I was initially put on vasopressors to centralize the blood in my main organs. This medication caused the complete loss of blood flow to my extremities, and as a result, I am officially a quadruple amputee of my hands and feet as of December 11, 2020. I also have a few other medical issues, including an ileostomy bag from my first intestine surgery, and the removal of a huge portion of my right hip muscle, a.k.a. my shark bite. The top layers of skin from both my thighs were shaved off and transplanted to my hip as a skin graft.
Today, I remain in the hospital, but I will soon be transported to a long-term rehab facility where I can learn how to live with my new body, and eventually, prosthetics. With all that has happened to me, I will not let my spirits get down. I plan to be a motivational speaker – not just for people with neutropenia or those who have gone through amputation – but for all people, so that everyone who hears my message can understand that we as human beings are united and loved as one, and we can help each other overcome adversity.
Thanks, Andrew, for sharing your story with us. We wish the best and hope you are able to return home soon.