At the age of 14, hope and happiness were the sum and substance of Colby Carlson’s textbook. Colby, a student at Williams Intermediate School in Davenport, was a lean, active athlete on the Davenport Metro Swim Team and a cross country runner who has done the Quick Bix.
But, a few months ago, his world collapsed. First, it was shortness of breath, initially diagnosed as asthma. That was last spring. Things worsened, and now it has been determined that Colby needs a new heart.
Fate moves in swift patterns. On the night of April 23, Colby began vomiting. He was hurried to Genesis Medical Center-West Central Park in Davenport, where an X-ray showed his heart was greatly enlarged.
“I was shocked and scared,” says his mother, Laura Carlson. He was sent to University Hospitals in Iowa City.
“We arrived about 2 a.m. and learned that his heart was functioning at only 25 percent of what it should,” says his mother. He had a stay in the hospital, then was released to return home with medication and a constant IV.
On May 24, back in Iowa City, it was confirmed that Colby’s heart was doing only 10 percent of its job. Two days later, the grim news that he had congestive heart failure and dilated cardiomyopathy.
On May 26, he had surgery to have an assist device, a pump, placed in his heart. From the outside, it looks like a box. “I carry it, sleep with it. It’s with me all the time,” he says with a wry smile.
Colby has been placed on a transplant waiting list with a 1-A (urgent) status, which says something about his immediate need.
For the moment, he is home. We visited for a half hour last week. With a new school year beginning, a tutor comes to his house for 40 minutes, five days a week. Otherwise, the normally active teen spends much of his time sleeping.
While we talked, he lounged on the living room couch, rubbing the ears of his long-haired dachshund, Sarge. Colby’s eyes were bright but he didn’t talk much. When asked, he spoke up, “Yes, I will swim again.”
Having a loving family helps pass the time. His mother and his dad, Scott, are always nearby, 24/7.
Colby’s medical expenses are already high, so a benefit to help his family is noon to 5 p.m. today at the Davenport Elks Club, 4400 W. Central Park Ave.
Our visit was cordial, but soon Colby was tired. He excused himself to return to his bedroom.