Longtime coach has been hospitalized since Jan. 3 while battling the symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome
As a successful, highly competitive basketball coach, Kyle Brooks has had his patience tested over the years. But, his patience has never been tested as much as it is right now.
Brooks, who began his 20th year at Prairie High School last fall, has been hospitalized since Jan. 3 while battling the symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barré (pronounced gee-YAH-buh-RAY) syndrome is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system. Weakness and tingling in the extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body.
Brooks has been through most, if not all of those symptoms since he has been hospitalized. However, like most patients impacted by Guillain-Barré syndrome, he’s getting better.
“I’m doing alright,’’ Brooks said when reached by phone Friday afternoon, just four days after having a trach tube removed. “I’m getting better. I’ve had some good things happen over the last 3-4 days. The trach tube is fully removed now so I can talk. I am very fortunate. I am able to talk and I’m getting better. My eyesight is getting close to being fully back.’’
Brooks’ words will no doubt be comforting to a legion of adoring students, teachers and community members of Prairie High School, where he was honored Thursday evening with a tribute prior to the Falcons’ district tournament victory over Timberline.
“It’s taking a lot of patience on my part in terms of just having to relearn some things,’’ Brooks told Clark County Today. “It’s amazing how fast the human mind can forget how to do things but it’s also amazing how you can relearn and get things back very quickly. The hardest thing is just being patient.’’
Brooks said his days are currently full of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Brooks clearly showed an understanding of the battle he is fighting right now and he remains faithful that he will make a full recovery, or something very close to a full recovery.
“I know people in this situation who make a full recovery,’’ said Brooks, who coached at Woodland High School for four years before moving to Prairie. “Sometimes, people make a partial recovery, but many, many people make close to a full recovery. Anything I can do to get back to having the life I had, or being close to that, I will be very thankful for.’’
While he has been away from Prairie, the Falcons basketball team has been coached by Jimmy Tuominen, one of Brooks’ longtime assistant coaches. The Falcons have advanced to the quarterfinals of the district tournament.
“I miss Prairie High School dearly,’’ said Brooks, who has coached four teams that have brought home top 8 trophies from the state basketball tournament in his tenure at the school. “I have missed coaching this year but I couldn’t more proud of Jimmy for getting the opportunity and doing the job he is doing right now.’’
Kyle’s medical ordeal has obviously been challenging for his wife Jane and the couple’s four sons (Preston, wife Brittany; Mason, wife Tori; Dayne, wife Carol; and Scott).
“It’s been horrible; it’s exhausting for him, it’s exhausting for me,’’ said Jane, who works as the attendance secretary at Summit View High School, Battle Ground School District’s alternative high school. “I’m working and then coming down to the hospital as much as I can.’’
Kyle and Jane have always relied on their religious faith, but seemingly, never more so than now.
“Every minute of every day, we are so relying on the Lord,’’ Jane said.
Jane is thankful for all of the support she and Kyle have received from family, friends and community members.
“He has 265 messages on his phone,’’ Jane said. “Everyone says ‘if there is anything I can do just say so.’ I say, ‘just don’t bring food.’ I don’t need food. But, everyone has been so wonderful.’’
Like Kyle, Jane is optimistic about her husband’s prognosis.
“He’s getting better every day,’’ Jane said. “It’s just going to take a long time. Every day he’s improving. I’m hoping that in the fall he can go back to work at Prairie. I’m not sure about basketball. That’s probably still up in the air.’’
That return to Prairie will obviously be a welcomed event for many.
“Kyle has been a first-class ambassador of Prairie High School athletics for 20-plus years,’’ said Prairie Athletic Director Jason Castro. “His basketball program has been one of the most consistent programs in Southwest Washington. More importantly, he is a man of integrity and we stand with him and his family during this difficult time.”