WESTON, Wis. — An 8-year-old central Wisconsin boy who survived a lightning strike to the head last month is adjusting well since being discharged from the hospital.
Blake Draeger doesn't have any lingering fear of lightning and he even enjoyed a recent fireworks show. Doctors told the family he isn't expected to suffer any permanent damage, but they're still keeping tabs on his second-degree burns, lingering high blood pressure and unusual kidney activity, the Daily Herald Media reported (http://wdhne.ws/17XuupA ).
Blake came home from the hospital Thursday to find a house full of cheering family members, friends and neighbors. In honor of his return people released balloons with copies of his story attached.
"My family was all here for me," Blake said. "(The best part) was having a big celebration and letting the balloons go."
Blake was struck by lightning while bicycling through a field on June 26. Both of his ear drums were ruptured, his eye lenses were scratched and a quarter of his body received second-degree burns.
His father, Chris Draeger, performed CPR on the way to Aspirus Wausau Hospital. He was later transferred to the burn unit at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, where he was put on life support and hooked up to a feeding tube.
Despite the severity of his injuries, he recovered at a rate that stunned his doctors, Chris Draeger said.
Blake isn't expected to suffer any permanent damage. His doctors told his family that if his ear drums don't heal on their own, minor surgery can correct any issue. His burns are also expected to heal without leaving scars.
"He's doing great. We are so fortunate," Chris Draeger said. "I can't explain how he went from having a breathing tube nine days ago to jumping on the trampoline today. But the doctors are as shocked as we are. He's incredible."
It didn't take long for Blake to adjust to life at home. Since he's been back he's returned to the activities he loves, including gardening, playing outside and raising baby chickens and kittens.
Blake said he doesn't feel traumatized by what happened to him.
"I'm not afraid of lightning at all," Blake said. "I'm just really glad to be home. I'm excited to be back."
It's not so easy for his father, though. He and Blake watched a Fourth of July fireworks show on Thursday, and while Blake loved the show, Chris Draeger said the bright booms made his heart skip a beat.
"I had a rough time hearing loud booms again," the father said. "I've loved fireworks all my life, but I just couldn't enjoy them."