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Back from the brink
Pneumococcal meningitis: A miraculous recovery
His doctor thought he would die, but Altus AD overcomes the odds

By Zach West Published: July 18, 2008

"I'd ask him if he was OK, and he'd go ‘I don't know what I was thinking,'” Vickie said.

At first she attributed it to tiredness and the recovery process. It only got worse, however, and the next morning she took him to the emergency room. A CT scan was performed, and Rick was once again taken by MedFlight to Oklahoma City.

This time, Rick's brain lining was bleeding in three places, causing a hematoma. This was a result of a blood thinner he had been taking since the initial sickness to deal with a blood clot at the base of his skull.

"(The doctor) was really surprised … that he wasn't in a coma,” Vickie said.

To avoid a taxing cranial surgery, surgeons had to drill into Rick's skull three separate times — all while he was still awake — to remove the blood.

"It's pretty scary when you have these horn things coming out of the side of your head with these huge drainage tubes. I think out of everything that's happened, that was almost the scariest,” Vickie said. "They gave him morphine and said he wouldn't remember, but he remembers. He's pretty tough, tougher than I would ever have been.”

Back in action
After consecutive months of craziness, the Roops were understandably excited when June passed without incident. Rick was even able to work a week or two at the office.

"Were were just ‘Thank God we're not in the hospital,” Vickie said.

The blood clot is still at the base of his neck, requiring the blood thinner. But at this point, doctors feel like Rick's brain has adapted to the pressure of the additional blood caused by the bleeding in the brain lining, Vickie said.

Rick is still barred from doing any hard work — especially in the heat — to avoid any additional bleeding.

The Roops celebrated their 24th anniversary on July 7th. On Tuesday, Rick went back to work as the athletic director at Altus High School.

"That's one of those goals I'm looking forward to so I can get away from (Vickie),” Rick said beforehand, chuckling. "We've been together so much the last two or three months …

"More than we have in the 24 years of our marriage because we both have extremely active schedules,” Vickie finished. "I'm not sure ... that we have ever been this much together in consecutive days. It's been crazy.”

Rick will go in for another CT scan July 30 to see if any progress has been made. If so, he may be able to officiate games. Oh, and ride his beloved Harley again.

"I've practiced for 32 years, and I've seen plenty of pneumococcal meningitis. I've never seen one as severe as this,” said Dr. Vadakepat Ramgopal, the infectious diseases specialist who treated Rick. "I never thought he would make it. The guy is amazing.”

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Rick Roop and wife Vickie shown during a photo shoot in 1995 when both were referees. THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE


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