Encephalitis recovery patient story
In his mid-20s, Matt Karlovec was diagnosed with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Complications can include problems with senses, movement and speech.
Although encephalitis severely affected Matt’s health, he continued to keep his eye on his goals. Those goals included working hard to get better, teaching kindergarten, coaching baseball, driving a car, and marrying his girlfriend Cathleen.
Matt and Cathleen met through a mutual friend while they were in college. On their first date, Matt arrived with single pink rose in-hand. Two years later in 2012, they began talking about marriage and Matt gave her a promise ring.
Then, on February 7, 2013, their lives changed forever. After suffering several seizures, Matt was in a coma. When he fell out of his hospital bed after having a seizure one night, his nurse identified it as encephalitis.
There’s not a lot of information or research on encephalitis, but doctors do know that Matt has viral encephalitis unspecified. In addition to losing use of his left arm and right leg, Matt is sensitive to light and sound, speaks in choppy sentences, and parts of his face quiver at times.
For nearly five years, he has worked with the rehabilitation team at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Lorain to improve his quality of life and help him be more independent at home. This team-approach to supporting Matt continued when Matt decided to ask his girlfriend to marry him.
To make it the perfect proposal, Matt enlisted the help of his therapy team. He wanted to propose on one knee, so he worked diligently with his physical therapist to practice the one-knee proposal. The Mercy Health team even helped him build a custom bench to make it possible.
Additionally, his speech therapist helped him practice what to say during the proposal and his occupational therapist assistant helped him with dexterity so that he could successfully place the ring on Cathleen’s finger.
The big day
The big day arrived on Tuesday, December 19, 2017. Cathleen came to the hospital under the impression that they were going to film a promotional spot for Mercy Health’s physical therapy program. Instead, she was greeted by her friends and family, and then she saw Matt’s parallel bars, which he uses for strength work, decorated with ribbons and flowers.
That day, Matt asked Cathleen to marry him following his therapy session at Mercy Regional Medical Center. Matt was able to get down on one knee, and Cathleen enthusiastically said yes. Alongside friends and family, Matt’s therapists were there to celebrate with the newly engaged couple.
Congratulations to Matt and Cathleen! We are so happy to be part of your special day and wish you the very best.