Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, then 15-year-old Sten was enjoying summer with friends in Door County. What started as a day of fun on the water, quickly turned into a day that would change his life.
Sten was tubing when he hit his head on a buoy. His friends acted quickly, calling the paramedics who took Sten to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital. Sten’s injuries were major: significant brain trauma, fractured skull and broken bones in his sinuses.
Sten spent the next two weeks on a ventilator and remained in the PICU for another week and a half. He then was in inpatient rehabilitation for another two weeks. Sten’s journey to recovery was long and difficult, needing to re-learn almost everything – walking, talking and even swallowing. Although progress was slow, Sten’s attitude was positive.
“The whole time I was just thinking that I’m so lucky to be here, to be alive, so why waste it? I wanted to do everything that I could to get back to where I was,” said Sten.
During the five-week stay at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital, Sten’s family was able to stay in a room right down the hall.
“One of the big things for us was that we were able to stay in Green Bay. It was close to home, and we were really happy with the level of care and attention that Sten was able to receive from everyone there – they all became our second family,” said Sten’s mom, Kristine.
After Sten was discharged, he continued therapy, working to build his strength. The whole time, his positive attitude never wavered.
“You’re given this beautiful gift of life, and you do anything you can to hold onto it,” said Sten.
When Sten turned 16, his mind shifted to driving. As a result of the accident, Sten lost all vision in his left eye, and much of his peripheral vision in his right. But, true to character, he didn’t let this stand in his way. Two optometrist visits later, Sten received the okay to finish getting his driver’s license, and in in March of 2017 he became a licensed drive.
“Nobody ever wants something like this to happen, but it does happen. And when it does, make sure you end up at St. Vincent,” said Sten’s father, Peter. “I don’t think we could come up with one negative thing about our experience there. We truly believe that the reason Sten is thriving today is because of where we were and the care we received. I don’t know if the outcome would have been the same if we were somewhere else.”