CSRA News

Triumph over tragedy

ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) - May 8, 2018

Triumph Over Tragedy - Part 2

It’s a new type of strength for this determined husband with three children waitin on his return.

 

“Yeah, I’ll walk again.  I will get back to the same way I was. I’ll have arms, hands. I do construction work.  I plan on going back to do it,” Grubisa said.

 

And those three kids, ages 8, 5, and 3 are all part of his courage to live.

 

“I want to be outside and play with the kids or watch them at least.  Ain’t much I can do with them outside yet,” he said.

 

When asked why he fought to live, he said, “I don’t want them to grow up and see pictures of who their dad was.”

 

So what else helps Christopher fight to live? He told NewsChannel 6 it’s faith and family too.  A family working outside the hospital online to make sure the world knows his story.

 

“The bracelet says never give up and go forward with your life.  If things can get better, they work as you make them work,” he shared.

 

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office turned Grubisa Strong after learning the family needed an ADA accessible home to get the IBEW Journeyman back to his normal life.  

 

That was great news for Grubisa’s wife, Amber,  “It would be a huge relief. I know that Christopher says that he wants to go back to work, but realistically, what does that look like for us?  I try to remain positive that he will go home and jump straight back into work. We have to think about that smart. That could be a year from now, two years.”

 

Christopher’s work does not stop here.  His therapy team tells us there is still more work to be done when he returns home to get him where he wants to be.

 

Candia said he will need several months before adding prosthetic arms and legs.

 

“It’s not like you just put prosthetics on and just, boom you figure it out,” she said. “Although, with Christopher I really wouldn't be surprised.  It’s a very tedious process, very, very frustrating.”

 

His other discharge needs?  Toilet and bed transfers and feeding.

 

“We’re close. Show her where you can get your arm. He just needs that little bit more range of motion to do a fork,” Amber Grubisa said.

 

“Stab stuff and scoop it without dropping it,” is how Christopher wants to progress before going home.

 

His wife agreed, “I think for him those things are important to go home with because he’s not going to want to depend on anyone else.”

 

It was a goal he accomplished not long after our visit. And with a new outlook on life, Christopher Grubisa plans to go back home and live it just like he did before with a deeper sense of faith, courage and strength.

 

“Don’t take everything for granted,” he said.  “Hands. Feet. Don’t take them for granted. It’s hard. It’s hard to do anything without them.”

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Triumph Over Tragedy - Part 1

The movie industry makes millions of dollars with super hero flicks, but Christopher Grubisa may cause you to rethink Hollywood's definition of a hero.

Grubisa's life along with his family's life dramatically changed forever. 

That's why his family coined a new phrase: Grubisa strong.  Never give up. I’ve been wearing an armband that reads those words since I heard his story. But after meeting Christopher I can tell you he found a new level of strength steeped in faith while fighting for his life that will hopefully encourage you like it did me.

During our first meeting he said, “I was on my deathbed.  And I don’t know where the strength came from.” 

Christopher Grubisa almost died.  

"He was admitted.  From there all hell broke loose," Sandra Grubisa said of her son. "By 4 o'clock Christopher was on a ventilator. By 7:30 that evening, Nick and I were told by the doctor that Christopher would not survive past midnight."

Sandra and Nick Grubisa first told their son’s story back in March.  And reliving that October 24th day brought nothing but tears. But, all Christopher remembers of the fight for his life is what he did the day before.

“I remember taking my little girls to the store, getting them some outfits for school.  I got home and I don’t remember nothing else.  I don’t even know what day I woke up,” he explained of that day.

Doctors diagnosed the 32-year-old with a rare form of meningitis, a bacterial infection.  It is so rare, health professionals told the family they had not seen it in the CSRA in more than two decades.

The meningitis caused a skin rash that turned into third and fourth degree burns.

Grubisa fell into in a coma.  But, his family refers to it as him being just “asleep” for weeks.  Medications needed to save his life eventually impacted the flow of blood to his limbs.  

"On Saturday they amputated both of Christopher's feet. As a family we prayed that Christopher could have at least one hand left. On Sunday, Dr. Mullins told us he could not save Christopher's hands. So, as a result, he is now a quad amputee," his mother said during that March press conference. 

Saving Grubisa’s life meant doctors had to perform nothing short of a miracle.  He was on a ventilator and 100 percent dialysis after his kidneys completely failed him. He also required a feeding tube for months.  But the most remarkable recovery effort was Grubisa enduring more than 20 surgeries that included removing skin from his sides. Once removed it was shipped off to a lab in Boston and grown.  That additional skin then had to be reattached to his chest, stomach and back, places where his original skin burned off.

“When I woke up I didn’t know who nobody was, I didn’t know what time it was or days of the week, dates. I didn’t know who Amber was.  I didn’t know who my parents were,” said Christopher of his "waking up" experience.

Christopher, his family nor his doctors know how he got the meningitis.  But he does know what might have protected him better.

“If I had the booster shot it might have changed the outcome of everything.  It might now. You never know," he explained.  "Make sure your kids got all the shots they need.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports:

CDC recommends vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine for all preteens and teens at 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) also may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.

Click here to see more on when the CDC meningitis booster is recommended. 

While Christopher’s parents look after his children, his wife Amber has remained by his side.  After spending four months at two CSRA hospitals, the Grubisa Strong clan now spends their days at Shepherd Center in Atlanta preparing to return home.

“So, for him, he doesn’t have any hands anymore," said Jana Candia, his Occupational Therapist.  "So, how are you going to wash your face, brush your teeth?  How are you going to shave? How are you going to feed yourself, put on clothes?”

Candia has spent the past three months helping Grubisa learn day-to-day functions.  

From typical household chores to skillfully crafted tasks.  Have you ever built a PVC pipe tree without hands?  I haven't.

“He thought we were crazy," said Physical Therapist Carol Ardanowski.  "But, he jumped right in and didn’t ever say no or I can’t and he jumped in and he did them.”

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Monday May 7, 2018

Congratulations are in order for Christopher Grubisa's mother, Sandra Grubisa.  She accepted the 2018 Theme Award from the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Monday.  Sandra is a BCMA Coordinator there.  She received the award during Nurses Week for her hard work and perseverance despite what was going on with her son. 

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May 3, 2018

Triumph Over Tragedy airs Monday, May 3 at 6pm. 

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April 25, 2018

GRUBISA STRONG. NEVER GIVE UP.

These are the words written in orange letters on a blue wristband that I have been wearing daily since the day I first heard about the man behind it.  Christopher Grubisa.

I actually met his parents first.  NewsChannel 6 covered a press conference with them at the Burke County Sheriff's Office.  You can see that story here. We introduced Christopher as a man who fought to live after a rare bacterial infection completely changed his life.  Now, we want share his story of triumph despite this tragedy.  

October 23, 2017.  That's the day Christopher Grubisa's life changed.  He told me during a one-on-one interview at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where he's undergoing intense rehabilitation, that he was on his deathbed.  But unbeknownst to him, strength came. Now he works hard daily to make sure he returns to his life before the tragedy occurred.  This is a type of strength I have never seen before. 

After almost a month at the Shepherd Center, he gained mobility. Thanks to his wife Amber, we were able to see that miracle happen here.

The Grubisa family hails from Burke County.  So, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office is helping to raise money for an ADA accessible home through GoFundMe - Building a Home for Christopher and other donations sent into the Burke County Sheriff's Office.  The 32-year-old husband and father who is now a quad-amputee will soon return home wheelchair bound and needs access to a home capable of handling his needs. The Sheriff's Office reports donations now total nearly $63,000 after Blanchard and Calhoun donated $15,000.  Georgia Rehabilitation Institute matched that donation with a check on Tuesday, April 24.  The goal is $200,000. 

A few days prior to the check donation, Christopher's father, Nick Grubisa, shared a remarkable photo with me. It shows his son with his family; wife, three children, mom and dad. 

The Shepherd Center took Christopher and his family to the World of Coca-Cola for a visit.  It's just one of many places Christopher will go with his family, especially since a kind couple donated an ADA vehicle to him just the other day.  

NewsChannel 6 will have a special report on May 7 about Christopher Grubisa called Triumph over tragedy.  I hope to share his story of strength and survival in hopes that it will encourage someone as he has encouraged me. 

 


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