GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan - "It's crazy," Kevin Breen, 44, can't believe that a stomachache turned into a fight for his life and limbs.
A trip to a Michigan emergency room showed Breen's stomach was enlarged, hardened, and filled with pus.
"I never thought [I would be] going in for a stomachache and coming out a totally different person, and [it's] life-changing," Breen told WOOD-TV.
Breen went into septic shock. He was put on a ventilator as his organs began to fail.
His blood flow slowed, leading to tissue death in his hands and feet, which now require a quadruple amputation.
At first, doctors were dumbfounded at what was causing Breen's mysterious illness. "He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of," Dr. Elizabeth Steensma said.
It wasn't until a rash broke out on Breen's chest that doctors realized it could be strep throat, which tests confirmed.
Dr. Steensma says Breen is only the second man in the world to have a documented case of strep moving from his throat to his stomach.
"I just kind of lost it and stopped and prayed," Breen's wife, Julie, is now supporting the family of five on her teacher's salary.
The family credits prayer from the staff at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, as well as prayer from family and friends, for saving Breen's life.
With one foot amputation complete, Breen faces three more major surgeries to remove his remaining foot and hands.
Through it all, Breen and his family remain positive, and are praying that he will eventually be able to get back on his water skis again.
"Life is forever going to be different," Julie said. "But different doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. It’s just going to be what we make it and we just have to figure it out, figure it out for our kids. Dad’s going to have cool hands, Dad’s going to have cool feet. We have to be positive," Julie said.
Nearly $50,000 of their $75,000 goal for medical bills has been reached on their GoFundMe page, which includes pictures of Breen smiling in his hospital bed, along with the following Bible verse: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:18