Young Minnesota Pastor fighting for life after contracting rare lung infection

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Jim's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

I'll be praying for this young man. 

Thanks. I am following his CaringBridge site and he is making slow progress. 

Jim's picture

Monday, September 3rd, 2018
Carson surprised one of his nurses yesterday morning as he called him by name as he entered the room. Carson’s voice has become stronger each day! The nurse looked around and said, “Who said that”? He was surprised that a strong voice was coming from the bed and not one of the other nurses in the room! Talking has been great for Carson as it allows him to let everyone know what he needs and how much he appreciates the care he receives. It has also allowed him to create laughter in his room and he keeps his nurses and family well entertained with his commentary on this journey he’s on. That’s right, in the midst of this chaos Carson continues to find things to be thankful for and things to laugh about! Those of you who know Carson well may understand this better, but it isn’t always what he says but the way that he says it that makes us smile! After a 35 minute dangle that included lots of exercise, 2 back rubs, and some “sips” to keep the mouth moist Carson said, “I can’t talk that much so I need to make it count”! 

This week Carson is hoping to pass a swallow test that would allow him to start in on solid food. I asked him if that meant we could share a pizza but he made it clear that means “pureed” foods but he is hoping it might mean there is a vanilla shake in his future! 

We continue to be thankful for the progress that each day brings, for the amazing care we receive, for being so well loved by so many, and for your prayers. We give all the things that we can’t control, all of our fears and worries, the fungus we can’t seem to get rid of and the lungs that change so little each week, to God, cause none of it worries Him and then we don’t have to worry! Carson said as much this morning and if I grow up I want be just like him! 
God is Good, All the Time!
Carson's Dad

Jim's picture

"A Good Day"

Journal entry by Lynne Frutiger — 1 hour ago

Carson said yesterday was a "good day".  It was a week of firsts - topped off with a birthday celebration.

Carson was cleared for the next level of food intake.He is now at “Level 3” so he came up with two carefully chosen meals from outside of the hospital that fit his current food level.

On Friday Carson took 26 steps times x2 - for someone who just started walking this week this is a huge accomplishment in that short of time. 

Two weeks ago, when Carson first started talking, he reminded Grandma Connie that her birthday was coming up (not just any birthday but her 80th birthday).  He informed her that we were going to have a party in his room and he was going to plan it.  He also hoped that by yesterday he would be clear to have a vanilla shake. Yesterday - in Carson's ICU room we had a family birthday for Grandma's (and Papa's 84 -early Oct) birthdays! Carson has been planning the party getting Megan to help him get party hats and cakes outside of the hospital!  We had a fun party with all our family together.  And drum rolllllll - Carson not only could have a vanilla shake but was eating a "nothing bundt cake" with the rest of us!!  

Grandma had written a little something she wanted to share with us and I share it with you.  We stood in a circle and held hands. 

“The memories we share remind me of how blessed I am to have a family like ours.  Our family is a circle of strength and love.  Every joy shared adds more love.  Every crisis faced together makes our circle stronger.” 

So this last week has been full of opportunities for gratitude as we watch God continue to work.  With all of these baby steps toward Carson getting stronger and moving in a positive direction, we celebrate and yet we continue to wait on God to provide healing and change in Carson's lungs.  With all the changes - the lungs show little, if any, change.

Thank you for your continued prayers lifting Carson up for complete healing – lungs included!

Jim's picture

September has passed and with it the second full month of Carson being connected to and sustained by ECMO at Mayo Clinic Saint Marys Hospital.

But, it was a month of amazing progress and faithful determination on Carson's part. After spending over 30 days in a coma, Carson began the intense work of rebuilding muscles and having those muscles do the work they were intended to do. I am so happy to report that just this week, Carson took not only one walk around the ICU, but TWO walks in one day. 

While Carson is doing the work of rebuilding muscles he is doing so while on ECMO. Despite ECMO's ability to provide oxygen to Carson's body, the machine does not fully mimic the action of the lungs, so Carson tires more easily along with other issues of using mechanical lungs. 

In terms of long-term recovery, Carson will continue to remain on ECMO and in the ICU until the fungal infection in his lungs is extinguished (which is still ongoing) and the status of his lungs can be determined. This fungus has taken its toll on his lungs and until the infection clears and his body has a chance to focus on healing, Carson's long-term outcome is yet to be determined. Even still, Carson and his family are confident in one thing - God is good!

A spark of great news is Carson's kidneys have begun working on their own - though not fully, yet. Doctors have been able to reduce his dependance on dialysis and this brings Carson one step further in his journey. Remember, it's a marathon!

In terms of visitors, Carson is able to receive no more than one visitor (individual or couple) per day and around 4pm is the best time. If you would like to visit, arrangements are preferred in advance by texting Bruce Frutiger. Please send me an email and I can forward. But, please keep in mind every day is different and some days a visit may not be possible. 

I asked Carson how we could be praying for him. Each day brings a roller coaster of emotions, and as such, Carson asks that we pray for strength and resilience. That he will have the fortitude of mind, body, and spirit to do what he needs to do to recover. 

So, that is my prayer today. Won't you join me?

And, while you're at it, share Carson's "Go Fund Me" link on your social media channels and continue spreading the word as our friend, Carson, continues to do his battle.

Thank you!

Warmest Regards,
Sarah Monson

Larry Nelson's picture


Jim's picture

August 11, 2018 I wrote that "When Dr.'s discovered Carson had blastomycosis they told our family this would be a marathon."  They told us change would come slowly.  This last week was a week of challenges of every kind.
Today is day 75 on EcMo.  When runners “hit the wall” at mile 18-20, they do so because of physical and emotional / mental fatigue.   This last week Carson and family “hit the wall” so to speak.   Unlike a marathon, with blasto there is no given number of days on EcMo or a finish line for crossing to healed lungs and kidneys that are fully functioning.  It seems to be this “unknown” with the lungs, combined with the ups and downs that are bringing fatigue and challenge. 


Carson’s recovery is still going in “the right direction”.  The antigen numbers for blastomycosis continue to go down even though cultures taken from Carson are still able to “grow” the fungus in the lab.  He has been off dialysis for 6 – 7 days so his kidneys seem to be doing at least some of the work that is needed.  Yet, he has continually struggled with getting nauseous, or coughing so hard that he throws up.  In the last few days the Docs started a new drug that has provided a reprieve from that for the last 4 days! He continues to deal with the ongoing problem of low hemoglobin which challenges his energy to do the work for PT that he needs to do. 


Friends – we are so blessed to have all you amazing folks checking in on Carson and our family on Caring Bridge and praying.  And we cannot thank you enough!!  While we are thankful, we covet your continued prayers as we are still in miracle territory.  While God has provided Carson with an incredible team of Dr.’s, amazing caregivers and EcMo specialists, God is still the ultimate Healer. 

Please pray not only for the physical aspects of healing that are needed - but for our faith to be strong when we are weak.  For the ability to stay focused with our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. 

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Jim's picture

An update from Bruce, Carson's Dad -

"Yesterday morning the transplant team came in and the transplant qualification process has begun to see if Carson can be added to the list for lung transplants. There are many tests being done which are important for qualifying. Without going into all the details please pray specifically for this whole testing time and that Carson will be accepted.

One specific test is a PET scan that will take place sometime in the next 48 hours or so. This scan is to determine if the blastomycosis is anywhere else in his body besides his lungs. Please pray with us that this has stayed with the lungs and NOT traveled anywhere else.

We cannot thank you enough for your prayers and support. What a blessing to be part of God's family and to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. God is Good - All the time!"

Help spread the word!

josh p's picture

Thanks Jim.

Jim's picture

One of the transplant doctors was describing Carson’s case saying it is way outside the normal on a bell curve.  So I confess I don’t know what normal is (except for a setting on my washing machine!  Aunt Lynne’s humor) when it comes to medical cases here at Mayo or for a lung transplant.  I do know they told us surgery would be 8 - 12 hours and the immensity of Carson’s situation demanded far more work and time - 20 hrs.   
Yesterday Carson headed back to surgery to deal with some bleeding in his chest from cleaning out scar tissue.  And the Dr’s told us following surgery that we could expect surgery to be a daily occurrence until the bleeding stopped.   Overnight the bleeding stopped!  
Because of the condition of Carson's right lung and scar tissue, fitting the lung into its new home has been an issue. This is not a rare situation.  On the docket, for some time in the next couple days, is to go back to surgery and “fit” the right lung in.   

Currently things are stable and we’re giving thanks and praise for the baby steps.  This morning they turned him and his body was comfortable enough that no “bells or whistles” went off.  A first since surgery.  

There were some comments that folks didn’t know that he needed a kidney.  This was not something we shared as it wasn’t a priority but Dr’s had talked about him needing one sometime in the future.  This need is due to the fact that his kidney’s have been put through the wringer from the drugs used to treat him throughout these weeks.  We were not really expecting a triple organ transplant when he went in.  A possibility yes, but probability no.   

As we move forward we would like to give you some concerns to continue to pray about.  I’m not sure there is an order Smile but first and foremost that Carson knows God's presence in real ways that give him courage, strength and peace.   For the functioning of his new organs.  Pray they will function wonderfully well and that his body will not reject them.  Pray that as we move forward he will not deal with the infections that are apt to creep up when you are in ICU and the hospital for so long. Pray that there is not any remaining, latent Blastomycosis fungus hiding anywhere in his body and if there is it will be squelched by the medications he is already receiving.  Praise God for his care team's continued love, persistence, knowledge and wisdom they show to serve all their patients well.  

Thanks for all your continued support in so many ways.
God IS good — ALL the Time

Jim's picture

This morning Carson is headed back to surgery. He was more stable throughout the night and we are so thankful for the miracles of the past several days. Although we all had been praying for organs for Carson we had prepared ourselves for the possibility of waiting much longer. When we received the call that organs were available for Carson we were excited and then a bit nervous as the reality of this next step in our journey was here. Today we wait while Carson is in surgery, thankful that those that lost a loved one gave the gift of organs to Carson. We continue to be so appreciative of the amazing care Carson is receiving.

Larry Nelson's picture

Jim wrote:

 Today we wait while Carson is in surgery, thankful that those that lost a loved one gave the gift of organs to Carson.

To all SI readers: If you are not already a designated organ donor, please (re)consider becoming one. 

In my state, Minnesota, becoming one is as simple as checking a box on the (re)application form for a Driver's License or State I.D.  Then the card itself will display a "DONOR" designation indicating your decision, for any party to see.

Jim's picture

Over the last week Carson has been relatively stable. He is still on ECMO and a ventilator both which are supporting his lungs while he recovers from surgery. His recovery at this time is focused on reducing the amount of excess fluid(swelling) using dialysis. We are thankful this week for progress in that area. Carson's heart is functioning well although they have not closed his chest cavity yet due to complications that affected his heart function when closed. They are hopeful that they will be able to close the chest soon and begin the process of reducing support as Carson's body recovers and begins to function on its own. Carson has a breathing tube in which makes communicating difficult even for Carson who is very good at charades and being in bed since Dec 18th presents its own set of challenges. We continue to be thankful for small steps towards recovery, the compassionate care of amazing team of caregivers all working towards sending Carson home, for the miracle and gift of organs God provided from a most gracious family and donor and for the love and prayers of those that are journeying with us from more places than we could have ever imagined! Thank you all! Thank you God!

Jim's picture

January 19 Very Sick!

Journal entry by Lynne Frutiger — 1 hour ago

Carson is very sick and struggling with complications not directly involving his new organs, but rather from being so sick for such an extended period of time. He is once again in a very difficult spot and as always his care team is working together to find the best way through this. It is likely he will need a very high risk procedure in the next few days. As always we appreciate your love and prayers.

josh p's picture

Wow. That guy has been through so much. Thanks for the update Jim.

Larry Nelson's picture

Still praying for his family.  God always has been, now is, and forever will be good in all things---even in circumstances that sadden us.