Sept. 6: Luke Nelson suffers a brain injury in the fourth quarter of Dassel-Cokato’s game against Orono. He’s taken by ambulance to a hospital in Litchfield in life-threatening condition, then by helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center. Shortly after midnight, doctors operate for three hours to relieve swelling from a brain bleed and remove part of his skull.
Sept. 13: Luke remained in intensive care when his team took the field for its next game in Fairmount. He had come out of post-op recovery asking about playing but instead watched the game on his computer. Before the game, Luke’s number 43 was painted on the opponent’s field. Dassel-Cokato won.
Sept. 17: Doctors reattached the right side of Luke’s skull. The next few days were difficult, marked by fever and nausea. His mother wrote on his Caring Bridge site, “Watching your child hurt has got to be one of the worst things in the world.’’
Sept. 22: Luke was discharged from the hospital. “The medical staff was shocked at his progress,’’ Sara Nelson wrote. ‘‘Those of us that know Luke were not surprised at his strength. #swolestrong’’
Sept. 27: Suffering from a blood clot and infection, Luke was readmitted to HCMC.
Oct. 1: Doctors removed the stitches from Luke’s skull. His appetite diminished because nothing tasted good. He eats only when he has to.
Oct. 4: Luke got an eight-hour pass to attend his team’s football game. It was an emotional but draining evening that left him exhausted.
Oct. 7: Luke’s blood pressure began to slowly rise. By late morning his fever disappeared. That evening, he shunned hospital food but this time asked if there was an Applebee’s nearby. “We know there will be more bumps in the road,’’ his mom wrote. “But, tonight … we … celebrate.’’ Two days later, he was moved out of the intensive care unit.
Oct. 15: Luke was discharged again. “Nothing against you,” Luke said to the doctors, “But I don’t want to see you again.”