Editor's note: The date of the fundraiser for the family was incorrect in Wednesday's print edition. The below version has been changed to the correct dates.
Normally an active teenager playing football or riding his skateboard, Skyler Fitch, 15, is spending most of his days this spring inside playing video games.
“It’s about all I can do,” he said.
A series of health problems began for the Carson High School sophomore when he started feeling sick to his stomach in November. Doctors pinpointed his gall bladder as the problem and removed it.
He wasn’t feeling better after the surgery. By Dec. 21, his left leg had swelled to three times its normal size, and doctors discovered a blood clot starting in his groin and running down to his ankle. He was flown to Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, where he was diagnosed with May-Thurner Syndrome, a condition in which the left iliac vein is compressed by the right iliac artery.
He remained in the hospital for nearly a month and underwent several procedures including the insertion of stents into the vein and a vena cava filter.
“It was so scary,” said his mother, Vanessa Luke. “It was really hard.”
While Skyler was in the hospital, Vanessa and her husband, Mike, both school bus drivers for the Carson City School District, would take turns staying with their son as the other worked and cared for the home.
Though Skyler is back home, now attending Silver State Charter High School to make up the credits he missed, his prognosis remains unclear.
“They don’t really have long-term answers; they’re just managing it for the short term,” Mike said. “He’s on blood thinners while trying to sort it out.”
And while he’s on the blood thinners, Skyler — who turns 16 on Friday — has to take precautions, including wearing a medical alert bracelet and avoiding contact sports.
“If he hits his head hard enough, he could bleed on the inside of his brain and no one would know,” Mike explained. “It’s hard on him.”
He said doctors are trying to determine the cause of the syndrome, which could be due to a rare blood disorder, complications from the surgery or other factors.
At the same time they’re supporting their son, the Lukes are struggling to make ends meet while paying for medical bills, prescriptions and travel to San Francisco.
Family friend Cora Congiusti said it’s much more like the couple to offer help than to ask for it.
“This family, they do much for other people,” Congiusti said. “These are the people if you knock on their door, they say ‘Come in.’ If you need $20, they’ll give it to you. Now, they’re behind on everything. We should be doing something to help them.”
She said the family is doing everything it can to make ends meet.
“He’s selling his motorcycle,” Congiusti said. “That’s his baby.”
Although the Lukes might be uncomfortable asking for assistance, Congiusti said she is not.
“I’m not too proud to beg for these people,” she said. “I just love them to death.”
Congiusti and other friends plan a fundraiser Saturday and Sunday at the Twisted Spoke to help offset medical expenses. The fundraiser will feature a silent auction that includes an antique slot machine, a raffle and a rummage sale. Raffle prizes include gift certificates to local restaurants, as well as for hair cuts and oil changes.
“Carson is a community that sticks together,” Congiusti said. “I hope we can help them.”