Moose Lake-Willow River athlete faces an unexpected opponentSoon after leading Moose Lake-Willow River to the Prep Bowl and being named News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year, Jake Disterhaupt battled an opponent he wasn’t prepared to face.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
For those who remember Jake Disterhaupt’s performance on the football field last fall or who watched him at the Section 7A South Subsection track and field meet Wednesday, it might be hard to believe that only a few months ago words such as dialysis and renal failure were being tossed around in regard to the Willow River junior.
Soon after leading Moose Lake-Willow River to the Prep Bowl and being named News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year, Disterhaupt battled an opponent he wasn’t prepared to face.
On Jan. 20 — his 17th birthday — Disterhaupt came down with a fever and a rash before a basketball game against Cook County. He missed that game and at least eight others as the fever grew and red dots broke out all over his body.
“I was freaking out and kind of scared because nobody in the family knew what it was,” Disterhaupt said.
Four days later, he went to Gateway Family Clinic in Moose Lake and was diagnosed with scarlet fever.
“That’s like Oregon Trail stuff,” Disterhaupt joked about the once-deadly malady that now is rarely seen in patients more than 10 years old.
His father, Mark, jokingly predated the disease even further back in history.
“I thought that was eradicated in the 1500s,” he said. “That’s Pilgrim and Columbus-like stuff. It was a surprise to us.”
After taking antibiotics, the rash and fever went away. Disterhaupt played basketball for a week before the rash returned with a vengeance in a five-minute period one morning before school.
He returned to Gateway Family Clinic, where the younger Disterhaupt says medical personnel were perplexed.
“The nurse I had had never even heard of it happening previously,” he recalled. “She said, ‘This is the first time we’ve seen this.’ ”
During the visit, Disterhaupt was given a shot of Toradol. The drug cured the scarlet fever but, in a matter of days, attacked his kidneys.
“If you Google Toradol, you’ll see that you do not administer that drug at any time when a patient is dehydrated,” Mark Disterhaupt said. “He’d been vomiting and running a fever, so it actually shut his kidneys down and gave him acute kidney failure.”
Lower-back pains were the first indicator.
“Five days after the shot, the pains got super bad,” Jake said.
He went to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth and spent three nights at the hospital, where his 185-pound frame withered to 165.
“(Doctors) said that if I had waited two more days, I would have needed dialysis because (my kidneys) were failing so fast,” Jake said. “It was a horrible process.”
The Disterhaupts declined to pursue litigation, especially when Jake pulled through in perfect health.
“It’s as scary as hell to see your kid laying in the emergency room and spending a couple days in intensive care. Forget all the accolades and all the awards, there’s just a point in time when you just want him to live,” his father said. “Once you find out that he’s going to live and (doctors) expect a full recovery, there’s a huge sigh of relief. Then we start looking at how this ordeal affects Jake.”
After being given intravenous fluids and put on painkillers and a strict low-salt and low-potassium diet, Disterhaupt’s kidneys tested fine.
“If it gets to dialysis, I knew it would be a serious thing,” Jake said. “I was really worried about it. Once they told me I was fine and wouldn’t need (dialysis), then I started worrying about sports and how I would get back. Now I’m back better than I was.”
Though he returned for the final few basketball games, it took nearly two months for him to regain strength and conditioning. Though still susceptible to a relapse if he has strep throat — the likely genesis of scarlet fever — Disterhaupt has shown no ill effects during the track and field season.
“He’s got natural speed and works hard to make himself better,” Moose Lake-Willow River coach Tony Andres said.
He qualified for the section finals in four events on a rainy Wednesday at Malosky Stadium. He was second in the 200 meters in 23.17 seconds — well off his personal-best of 22.34 — fifth in the high jump at 5 feet, 6 inches and ran legs on 800 and 1,600 relay teams that took first in the meet and should threaten to qualify for the Class A state meet. The 800 relay broke its own school record in 1:33.58.
Not bad, considering its Disterhaupt’s first track season since seventh grade.
“He adapts very well,” Andres said. “The best thing I like about him is that even though track can be deemed an individual sport, if I want to put different combinations together and I ask him to long jump or triple jump for me, he goes and does it and wants to be the best at it. He has unbelievable drive and willpower.”
Despite a hand-timed 11.1, Disterhaupt is not running the 100 meters in the sections. He’ll have to save that for the football field. After rushing for 2,276 yards — fourth most in Northland history — and scoring 40 touchdowns last season, Disterhaupt is being recruited by Division I-A colleges (Minnesota, Michigan State and Iowa State) and several Division I-AA schools (Princeton, Northern Iowa, Illinois State and all the Dakota schools). He received a scholarship offer from the University of North Dakota after arriving to his Sturgeon Lake home after the meet.
The Eskomos won all four relays en route to claiming girls team honors with 184 points, well ahead of Two Harbors’ 122. The Agates’ Stephanie McGregor won the discus (114-11) and shot put (34-11½) titles.
The top seven competitors and top four relays in each of the two subsections advance to next week’s section meet at Minnesota Duluth.