Recovery continues for Rose Creek man

Published 10:33 am Friday, January 2, 2009

Mike Bauer is on the mend, and Hurley is on the loose.

Bauer, 37, had open heart surgery Nov. 23, 2008, to remove blood clots from his heart/lungs.

A blizzard interrupted a benefit to help pay expenses during his unemployment.

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Now, the family’s pet dog has run away.

The old year can’t end soon enough for the Rose Creek family.

Coming a month before Christmas, the family medical emergency was a devastating blow on many levels.

Bauer and his wife, Anne, have seven children, five daughters and two sons.

Before the open heart surgery felled him, Bauer worked as a construction foreman for Benike Construction Company, Rochester.

Friends of the Bauer family, Brian and Daneen Theobald, owners of the Morning Grind drive-through coffee shop on First Avenue Southwest in Austin, agreed to held a benefit for the family in December.

When the day came, so did a blizzard that kept some people from participating in the fundraiser.

It was enough to suspect the Grinch was stealing Christmas and more from the family.

But Bauer didn’t fall prey to pity.

“We appreciate everyone’s generosity,” he said. “Even though the weather was bad, people still came and gave money.”

“Some people would just drive through and not order a coffee and leave a t10 or a 20,” he said. “Others would buy a coffee and say ‘Keep the change’.”

The Toeholds gave 50 percent of the day’s receipts to the Bauer family.

“We did all right, and we really appreciated it,” Bauer said.

The words of “gratitude” coming from the victim of a family medical emergency have been heard before.

When Bauer’s wife, Anne, and her sister, Mary Lewison, made the rounds of local media outlets to talk about the family’s predicament and the benefit, they, too, expressed gratitude.

Bauer’s emergency began the Saturday night before Thanksgiving in November.

He and his wife were grocery shopping at HyVee Food Store in Austin, when the man had trouble breathing.

The couple continued their shopping and returned to their Rose Creek home, where, once again, Bauer had difficulty breathing.

The wife drove her husband to Austin Medical Center — Mayo Health System, where doctors said he had blood clots in his legs.

Bauer was transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester, by Mayo One, where he underwent more tests.

The wife recalled, “Basically, they said he’s going to have a heart attack if we don’t go in and clean him out.”

More blunt words described what followed.

“They said they could give him a clot-buster, but with that there’s a chance of aneurysm or stroke,” she said.

She agreed to the surgery, and it was performed Nov. 23, 2008.

More blunt words came from the doctors.

“The one blood clot he had in his pulmonary artery was five-and-half-inches long. He also had 25 other cloths in his heart/lungs cavity,” she said.

Thanksgiving came and went in the Bauer family.

Despite what happened to the family’s only bread-winner, the Bauers were … thankful.

“There was lots to be thankful for at Thanksgiving, but this was the biggest thing of all. Mike was alive,” the wife said.

‘Getting better’

The Bauers’ children kept things lively, during the year-ending holidays.

There is Conrad, 14, Cecylia, 13, Michael, 11, Max, 8, Kahle, 7, Isabelle, 5, and Noah, 3.

A never-a-dull-moment lifestyle for parents Mike and Anne.

“We’re getting along fine,” Mike said. “Everybody has been real good to us, and I’m looking forward to going back to work as soon as I can.”

That won’t be soon. He must first pass a doctors’ examination June 29.

“I’m getting stronger, but I’m not supposed to lift anything that weighs more than five pounds,” he said.

“I know I’m not going to go backwards with this. I’m going to get better,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

His sister-in-law, Mary Lewison, is upset over a “distraction,” taking place during Bauer’s recovery.

The Lewisons were watching the Bauers 8-month-old dog, Hurley, until he ran away.

Hurley is a yellow Labrador retriever, who Bauer admitted, “got into a lot of trouble and chewed things up whenever he got a hold of them.”

Bauer, who seems to accept everything that happens to him in life with equanimity obviously missed the family’s dog. “Whenever you say his name, he bows his head and wags his tail. He’s so easy-going,” Bauer said.

Meanwhile, his sister-in-law, Lewison, is more upset. “We miss him so much, and want to get him back. We’re offering a reward for any information. We just want to find him,” she said.

Thus, the New Year begins on unsteady footing for the Mike and Anne Bauer family.

Things just seem to keep happening to them. First, the open heart surgery, then the stoppage of weekly paychecks, then medical bills. Then only a semi-good benefit to help pay medical expenses and now a missing family dog.

“I’m getting better. I know I am,” Mike said. “Things like this just take time.”

One thing Bauer has learned through his ordeal is the importance of preventing bad things from getting worse.

“There are signs people can learn and signals to detect heart or stroke problems. People need to have a checkup,” he said.

A fund for the Rose Creek family remains at Accentra Credit Union in Austin if any donors are interested.

For sharing any information about the yellow Labrador retriever, Hurley, call 438-8821 or 433-1494.