top of page

Cuchna is battling a rare disease


by Karin L. Nauber

Whenever our children are sick, we feel a tinge of pain. We want them to feel good and not feel pain or illness—ever.

Reality, though, is a cruel reminder that sickness does come to our children sometimes.

For the Joe and Nicole Cuchna family of Eagle Bend, the nightmare of a sick child began on Thursday, April 26, when their daughter Ella, age 13, came home from softball practice with a headache. 

“We treated it with Tylenol like we would any other headache,” said Nicole.

On Friday she did not go to school because of the headache.  

She began running a low grade fever on Friday into Saturday.  

“On Saturday and Sunday her fever continued in the 101-104º range and we could not get it to go down,” added Nicole.

 On Sunday night Ella’s speech was altered and the family had a hard time understanding her.

“We brought her to Tri-County Hospital in Wadena to ready care on Monday morning.  When the doctor asked her what her name was and she could not give him an answer, he immediately rushed her to the emergency room and they began running tests.”

According to Nicole, they hooked her up to an IV, took many vials of blood and did a spinal tap.  

“The ER doctor and nurses did everything they could to keep her comfortable until the ambulance took her to the CentraCare Hospital in St. Cloud.  The ER doctor informed us that Ella may have meningitis,” she said.

“At that point my heart began racing and tears rolled down my cheeks.  I thought to myself, ‘Why didn’t I bring her to the hospital sooner? Is she going to die? Will she have brain damage?’” said Nicole of the thoughts that raced through her mind.

The doctor told her that if she had brought Ella to the hospital with a high temperature, they would have treated it like the flu.  

They knew it was serious when Ella’s speech became gibberish and she was confused.   

When Ella arrived at the hospital in St. Cloud she was brought to a room in the pediatric ICU.  

Most of the labwork done in Wadena had arrived.  

“They informed me that there was bacteria in her spinal fluid.  Her spinal tap fluid was sent to the Mayo Clinic,” she explained.

They continued to run tests on Ella. . . .

Click Here to Continue Reading


bottom of page