Colorado man suddenly facing multiple amputations after illness

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Just a few short months ago, Joshua Meyer was known by most as being an active outdoorsman, enjoying everything his home in Boulder, Colorado, had to offer. But a sudden sickness led to the loss of his legs and soon, his hands.

He was a family man, valuing spending time with his wife and his two kids.

“Nothing beats snuggling on the couch or wrestling around on the floor,” Meyer said.

Joshua Meyer enjoying an active lifestyle
Joshua Meyer enjoying an active lifestyle

It was early February, and his wife Courtney was out of town on a business trip. He was home with the kids when he suddenly fell sick.

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“I called in my mother-in-law to take care of the kids and every day seemed to get a little worse,” Meyer remembered. “I was just totally immobilized.”

When Courtney returned, she made sure he was settled in the basement where he wouldn’t have to worry about giving it to the kids. She went upstairs to unpack and get settled when she suddenly had a thought to head back down to make sure he was doing all right.

That was when she knew it was much more serious than she thought.

“I was blue in the face,” Meyer said.

While he didn’t remember anything after that point, Meyer said his wife recalled him talking incoherently.

“Then, I turned to her and said, ‘I think I’m dying,'” Meyer recounted.

Courtney rushed him to a nearby hospital. The staff assumed he had the flu and started pumping him with fluids. But his sickness progressed.

“Very quickly, organs started shutting down,” Meyer said.

The medical professionals realized, in addition to the flu, he was suffering from streptococcus pneumonia and sepsis. They put him on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a form of life support, and transferred him to UCHealth Anschutz Medical Campus on Feb. 10. But even that came with its share of challenges.

“It was during a snowstorm,” Meyer said. “They were going to helicopter me over, but they couldn’t because of the snow. So, they loaded up eight folks and all the machinery into an ambulance and made the drive down.”

Meyer hopes to use prosthetics in the future
Meyer hopes to use prosthetics in the future

After weeks of treatment and going in and out of consciousness, his wife sat down to have a very difficult conversation.

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“She sat on the couch and shared, ‘You know, you got real sick real fast, and you were on death’s doorstep. We had a choice to either say goodbye or fight. I thought you would want to fight and be there for our kids. We chose to fight. You’re here today. You’re alive. There was a cost,'” said Meyer.

That cost was the loss of one of his legs already and soon his other, which at that point was set to be amputated. He also still had his hands, but they are scheduled to be amputated in two months.

“That moment is pretty clear in my head,” Meyer said. “Despite maybe not being clear in the journey of getting cognitive clarity.”

The Meyer family is now looking toward a long road to recovery, but there have been some positives, including the support he has seen from hospital staff, friends and family, and more.

“What’s been completely humbling and unexpected is the outpouring of support from all the unknowns. All these people I don’t know,” Meyer said.

On March 17, his sister, Kristin Meyer-Carter, set up a GoFundMe to cover medical costs for his family. In just a few days, an outpouring of donations began flooding in and they well-exceeded $100,000.

“Every roadblock or every hurdle has been met with some small miracle right when it was needed. And no doubt that’s a part of everybody’s support and thoughts,” Meyer said.

After more than a month at UCHealth Anschutz, Meyer moved to a long-term acute care facility which will help prepare him for normal life.

Joshua Meyer at UCHealth Anschutz
Joshua Meyer at UCHealth Anschutz

After contemplating going the hand transplant route or the prosthetics route, he decided the risk-reward ratio was better with prosthetics. While they are not cheap — usually costing in the $150,000 range — his family is hoping this will help him be able to get to do the things he used to love to do before.

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For now, he is hoping to be home by June, just in time for his son’s birthday. And once he gets out of the hospital, he says he can’t wait to treat Courtney to something special.

“She’s been a complete rockstar who will get a nice week-long vacation somewhere getting massages and spa treatments once I get out of the hospitals and back into the house,” Meyer said.

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