Mason Greenwood, 17, a senior on the Mt. Juliet High School football team, had to go to Monroe Caroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt after he was bitten by a tick and a brown-recluse spider.
“The brown recluse can actually have a painless bite, so I don’t know when that happened,” said Greenwood. “The tick bite could have happened up to 21 days ago, so, really bad timing with both of them happening at the same time.”
Greenwood said he had a headache one day after practice, followed by a fever and chills. He went to a doctor after the symptoms persisted for a few days, and the doctor found a brown recluse bite.
“I got antibiotics for the brown-recluse bite, and I got worse and ended up in the ER,” said Greenwood.
The reason the antibiotics didn’t work is because the symptoms weren’t caused by the brown-recluse bite, but a tick bite Greenwood didn’t even know he’d gotten.
While Greenwood was in the hospital, the Mt. Juliet High School football team sent out a tweet asking for prayers for their teammate.
“No matter what color uniform you wear, or what kind of field you play on, we need your prayers for one of ours,” said the tweet. “Mason Greenwood, an upcoming senior for us, is at Vandy Children’s Hospital, and he’s struggling right now. It’s a combo of a brown recluse bite and tick-borne illness. Please pray for him and family.”
The tweet received more than 1,000 likes, 371 retweets and 62 replies wishing Greenwood prayers for a speedy recovery. Greenwood left the hospital Wednesday, and even showed up to football practice Thursday.
“He showed up in a very limited role, but the fact that he was on campus was great,” said Mt. Juliet football coach Trey Perry. “It just reminds you, not only of the connection that sports brings you to others, but also the power of prayer.”
Greenwood said the road to recovery has just begun, and it’s already been a difficult one. When he arrived at the hospital, doctors found his kidneys weren’t functioning correctly, and he had pretty severe inflammation in his heart.
“I was dangerously close to a heart attack at one point,” said Greenwood. “So, that was pretty scary.”
On June 22, Greenwood will go back in for an MRI, where he will start to get a feel for how long the recovery will take.
“If there’s scarring on my heart, this sounds crazy but, I’m going to be out for six months,” said Greenwood. “That’s worst case scenario, though. It could be two months, it could be three months, one month; I don’t know yet.”
Greenwood, of course, hopes the recovery is as short as possible.
“My hope is a month at the longest,” said Greenwood. “I really want to get back to playing. I can’t imagine not playing football.”