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SG man faces ‘financial blast’ after aneurysm

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 3:55 p.m. CDT
(H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Frequent customer Bob Popelka (left) of Spring Grove visits with Midwest Breakfast Company co-owner Steve Mitchell at the restarant's counter Monday. Mitchell survived a ruptured aneurysm earlier this year. Mitchell, who does not have any medical insurance, has been out of work for several months. A benefit is planned for Friday to raise money to help cover medical costs.

SPRING GROVE – The headache was weirdly intense.

Steve Mitchell, 47, was closing up Midwest Breakfast Co., a Spring Grove restaurant he co-owns with one of his sisters, when the aneurysm in his brain ruptured. 

“The pain in my head got to be so bad and different than any other headache I’ve had,” Mitchell said. “I could almost feel the pain rolling down my neck and into my shoulders. I just thought, ‘This is weird. This is not right.’ ”

Mitchell doesn’t remember much after calling 911. 

He remembers the paramedics arriving, but he doesn’t remember much, if anything, of the ambulance ride to Centegra Hospital – McHenry, the helicopter ride to University of Illinois – Chicago’s hospital or the six-hour surgery that followed.

For much of the 27 days he spent in intensive care, he was unconscious.

About 40 percent of people do not survive the first 24 hours after an aneurysm has ruptured and an additional 25 percent die from complications within six months, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

More than three months after the aneurysm burst, except for losing his 3-foot-long ponytail and a “looming financial blast,” Mitchell is back to normal.

He’s back to working 50- to 60-hour workweeks between the restaurant and his job as a painter.

The bills started rolling in when he still was at the hospital and total nearly $400,000.

Besides being out of work for about two months and working his way back up to full time for another month after that, Mitchell is uninsured, so he is seeking help from the state and from the programs that hospitals have for the uninsured.

His sister, Trish Rawls, kept Midwest Breakfast Co. open during the time Mitchell was out, but the restaurant, which they opened in November 2010, doesn’t bring in much profit.

It has ended up bringing him more help than he expected, though.

A men’s Bible study group from LifeSpring Community Church meets weekly at Midwest Breakfast Co., and when its members found out what happened to Mitchell, they offered to help, organizing a benefit to help raise money to cover the bills.

Other help has rolled in as businesses have donated gift certificates and products for the silent auction portion of the event.

“It’s actually almost an uncomfortable, overwhelming feeling to have so many people being so generous,” Mitchell said. “I’ve never had to have any help before. I’ve been self-sufficient my whole adult life, and to need help is overwhelming.”

Mitchell has lived on and off in Spring Grove since 1984. He is married to Julie Mitchell, and he has two daughters, Hunter, 18, and Abby, 14. They attend The Chapel in Mundelein, but Mitchell plays his bass guitar at several area churches.

To help

A benefit concert and silent auction to help Steve Mitchell and his family is in the works for 6:30 p.m. Friday at LifeSpring Community Church, 2503 Spring Ridge Drive, Unit G, in Spring Grove.

Tickets are $25 and can be bought at Midwest Breakfast Co., 2207 Route 12 in Spring Grove. 

Donations may be made online at faithcommunitychurch.cloverdonations.com/on-line-giving by including “/ MB” after the last name in the contact information.

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