On the evening of Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 – Ryan began to feel some pain in his stomach. He did not feel much like eating dinner that night and spent some time laying on the couch waiting for a GI bug to settle in. The pain continued to get worse and Kim and Rich decided to take him to Children’s for fear it may be appendicitis.
By Thursday morning, it became clear that the pain was not related to an issue in his stomach, but rather neurological in nature. Thursday was a day of testing that ultimately put Ryan in the Pediatric ICU at Children’s hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Doctors began to search for answers to his symptoms. Ryan was suffering from numbness and nerve pain in his lower extremities, stomach pain and eventually significant weakness in both of his legs. MRIs were conducted, and bloodwork was drawn. Medicinal treatments were put in place to cover a broad range of possible causes. As Thursday became Friday – the MRIs proved unremarkable for diagnosis and the neuro team decided to proceed with a spinal tap in hopes of a clear answer for Ryan’s symptoms.
Through the weekend of December 9th and 10th results for the MRIs, spinal tap and bloodwork continued to show no clear answer for Ryan’s struggles. The pain, discomfort and significant lower extremity weakness continued, while the doctors utilized the lack of evidence of other much worse possibilities to “rule in” Ryan’s condition. Ryan has been diagnosed with a disorder known as “transverse myelitis.” Transverse myelitis is an inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord. This neurological disorder often damages the insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin). Transverse myelitis interrupts the messages that the spinal cord nerves send throughout the body. Results of the bloodwork has not led to a clear reason for his symptoms. Doctors have ruled out many possible infectious causes, as well as, other disorders.
Ryan is being supported by the best Neuro team Pittsburgh has to offer. The Harris family is incredibly thankful to live in a city where medicine and research prevail. They are humbled by the outpouring of support that has surrounded them. His elementary school friends have sent cards, staff has provided gifts, while other friends and family in the community have supported them in innumerable ways. This page is being created to allow friends and family to receive updates on Ryan’s progress has he continues to heal.
Ryan is an incredibly strong young man with great tenacity. The lessons he has learned working alongside his dad on the farm, training as an athlete and learning as a student will serve him well as he faces this challenge. The Harris family covets your prayers for Ryan. Please continue to pray for healing, strength, courage, restful sleep and perseverance.
- Linda Evanish
- Steve Zanella
- Janice Wilson
- Josh Fetcko
- Jim Dittler