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Brady's Story

Brain & Spine Care
“I remember passing our doctor a week later in the ICU... He stopped and told me, ‘I don’t know what to tell you other than your son is a miracle. I wouldn’t have expected this. I don’t know who you have praying for him, but I want you to have them pray for me too.’”

Motorcycle enthusiast, Brady Feist, 25, from Pillager was not expected to live after suffering life-threatening injuries from a motorcycle crash. Even though he was wearing a helmet, his story, as shared by his mother, reflects the challenges and difficult decisions his family and care team had to make.

“It’s a family hobby. My husband, our two boys and me all ride motorcycle together. We enjoy going to the North Shore, taking day trips and visiting surrounding states,” said Kim Feist, of Pillager.

It was May 26, 2019, and Brady was supposed to pick up his girlfriend to go on a motorcycle ride. When he was late to pick her up, she called his mom. Knowing this was out of character, Kim called Brady’s closest friends, wondering if something had come up. When friends hadn’t heard from him either, she grew more concerned. She called friends who were local first responders. “I couldn’t get answers. I eventually called the Brainerd hospital and asked if he was brought in. After being transferred three times, the last person finally told me he had been airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital,” Kim remembers.

“I called St. Cloud and a very nice ER nurse was the one who gave me information. A truck had pulled out in front of Brady. He had severe head trauma and I needed to get there ASAP. I gave her verbal permission over the phone to do whatever they needed to do.”

The accident happened on a Sunday and because St. Cloud Hospital has a neurosurgeon on call 24/7, Brady was able to have emergency neurosurgery. St. Cloud Hospital is one of just a few hospitals in the state to offer this.

“When we finally got there, Brady was already in surgery and we had to wait before we got to talk to the neurosurgery team. We were told that if Brady was any older, they wouldn’t have attempted to do anything because his injuries were so severe,” Kim said. The staff explained Brady had suffered a traumatic brain injury and in order to release pressure, they had to remove both bone flaps on the front of his skull. The outlook was bleak.

“There were so many people crying. I remember I had my head down and was just trying to absorb everything they were saying. I kept thinking to myself, ‘You’re wrong, Brady is going to prove you wrong — he’s not going to die. He’s not going to be handicapped, this isn’t going to be his life,’” said Kim.

“Nate and Raechel, nurses in the ICU, were two of Brady’s biggest cheerleaders. I don’t know that we, as a family, would have survived without them and the other ICU nurses. Constantly giving us support when the odds were not with Brady at all,” said Kim.

Raechel Konczewski, BSN, RN, CCRN, was the day nurse for the first days that Brady was in the ICU. She said that she felt so privileged to have witnessed Brady’s journey.

“There was so much love from all his family and friends. On his birthday, he received the most flowers I have ever seen anyone get in the hospital,” said Raechel. “Brady and his family really touched my heart and others in ICU.”

They had learned that a truck making a left-hand turn in front of Brady had come to a dead stop. While Brady had been wearing a full-faced, DOT-approved helmet, he still suffered life-threatening injuries that left part of his brain exposed. In addition to his head trauma, he also suffered a broken collar bone, six broken ribs, a punctured lung and multiple facial bone fractures.

Nate King, BSN, RN, another one of Brady’s nurses in ICU, said Brady’s story is one that will resonant with him throughout his nursing profession.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of coming onto the unit that night and hearing I would take a young trauma patient who was not expected to survive. Even with years of experience working in the ICU, it still can’t fully prepare you for when you meet devastated family members,” said Nate. “That first night was tough, but, despite all odds, Brady began to withdraw from pain. I was privileged enough to care for him many nights in a row and watched as he gradually recovered neurological function.”

“I remember passing our doctor a week later in the ICU,” Kim recalled. “I knew he’d come in just to see Brady because he had to see for himself what the nurses were noting in Brady’s chart. He stopped and told me, ‘I don’t know what to tell you other than your son is a miracle. I wouldn’t have expected this. I don’t know who you have praying for him, but I want you to have them pray for me too.’”.

“It’s taken a lot of faith. My faith has grown 10 times stronger than it was before,” Kim said. “Prayer has been huge. I remember Father Mark Stang coming up to see us. I told him I know there are thousands of people praying for us — prayer groups in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Father Mark said, ‘There is a reason for this. If nothing else, because of Brady, thousands of people are closer to God.’”

Brady was in the hospital until June 10 and then he went to several different rehabilitation programs. “I haven’t been home for five months, other than a day here and there,” said Kim. On July 31, his bone flaps were put back on and he was discharged on Aug. 6. During that time, Brady went back to the ICU to visit with those who cared for him.

“Since I usually don’t get to see my patients after their transition from the ICU, this was an especially powerful moment for me,” said Nate. “I will never forget his strength and determination in those moments of healing or the endless support and faith of his family like when he first gave us a thumbs up, when he was able to give his mom a kiss, when his family decorated his room with pictures of home and his fishing mementos, and when he was able to smile.”

Today, Brady walks without an aid. He is still in rehab to grow stronger and is having surgeries to correct paralysis in his left arm and reconstruct his face. He’s taking it day by day. He wants to get back to work, as a plumber, and be able to drive again. He also looks forward to a winter of ice fishing.

“I have people telling me ‘you’re so strong, I don’t know how you do it,’ and I don’t know what to say to them. I’m just doing what I Have to do for my son. I also believe there is a purpose for all of this — we just don’t know what it is yet,” Kim said.