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Scott County man stuck in Puerto Rico hospital on road to recovery

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - After weeks of uncertainty, doctor consultations, and medical complications a Scott County family is now back on solid ground. 

At least, on the way to solid ground. 

Chad King spent 10 weeks in Puerto Rico working as a fiber optic splicer, helping the area rebuild after the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. After a short trip back home to Oneida, he caught flu type A and B, and then meningitis.

He was found in his apartment in Puerto Rico on the floor, unconscious. What his family didn't know at the time was he was in critical condition. 

In the days that followed, King's Oneida community rallied support to raise enough money to bring him back to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Tennessee. 

"I feel very lucky and been very blessed, all the prayers and everything. Everybody helping me out. If it weren't for that, I probably wouldn't be here," said King. 

Weeks later, he's found a place at a rehab center in Knoxville. It's closer to his family and his home, but he says there is still a long road ahead. 

"I'm hoping to get to work, learn to walk again, get back to life, get back to somewhat normal. Get back to somewhat was my life was before. Get back to doing the things I was before," said King. 

Surrounded by family, his sons, his wife and his mother, just to name a few, he's made progress that even his doctors didn't see coming at first. 

"Just being able to stand up. People don't realize what a blessing it is to stand up, and be able to change your shirt, wash your face, brush your teeth. Stuff like that is amazing. I'm thankful to even be able to do that," said King. 

His wife Heather says she's relieved. 

"Even though we keep running into obstacles, I'm relieved to know he's that much closer to be home and he's that much closer to being well., said Heather. 

King regained small motor skills and is able to eat on his own again. He says he was told he wouldn't be able to walk, but has already taken three to four steps in therapy. He's planning to improve even more. 

"A totally different perspective. A lot more appreciation for life and just thankful to be alive, just be here," said King. 

Above all, King says he's grateful for the support from his community and strangers that allowed him to be at this point, talking again, with his family. 

There's no timeline as to when King will be leaving the rehab center and live at home in Oneida. He says doctors say it will depend on the speed of his progress and recovery. 


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