Lincoln Northeast High School middle hitter and four-year starter Logan Gronewold doesn’t want to be defined by her condition.
She was a perfectly healthy teenager until October 2017, when she had her first encounter with encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. Doctors aren’t sure what caused it, but the reaction came about 32 hours after she got her annual flu shot.
In Illinois with her family visiting her older brother at Northwestern University, she uncharacteristically fell asleep at a restaurant and struggled to stay awake. After tests at a Lincoln hospital didn’t turn up anything, Gronewold went on to play in volleyball districts.
A few days later, her parents got a call from school that something wasn’t right with Logan. They took her to Children’s Hospital in Omaha. She’s been checked for every autoimmune disease, said her mom, Shannon.
Released on a high dose of steroids after 13 days, Gronewold’s brain began to swell again as she was being weaned off of them. Doctors prescribed a BrainWorks protocol for antibody-mediated inflammatory brain disease. Logan was out of school from the end of October until the end of January 2018.
Throughout her junior and senior years, Gronewold continued to play volleyball for Lincoln Northeast and her Premier club team during the treatments. Her family doesn’t know when they will end.
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She still makes a trip to Children’s Hospital monthly to receive antibody-rich plasma that helps her body fight off diseases and germs. “So if I get sick, my brain swells up,” said the 17-year-old. She’s been swelling-free for five months.
Finding the time for the 4- to 5-hour infusion treatments is not her favorite thing, but Logan wouldn’t do without them, said Shannon. “She realizes it’s a good thing.”
“Going through this made me realize to be thankful for things and work hard, because you never know what’s going to be taken away from you,” Logan shared.
Since the swelling incidents, Logan said academics are more of a challenge.
“It takes me longer to read stuff and understand stuff, so I like to read ahead,” she said. She has been able to keep her 4.0 GPA up and has committed to attend Rockhurst University (Kansas City) next fall on an academic and athletic scholarship.
High school volleyball coach Craig Songster described Logan as a hard-working, cohesive, sportsmanlike teammate who tries to help everyone on her team be that as well.
“I think I’m more positive on the court. I talk more, and I try harder,” Logan shared. She finished her Rocket career with 775 kills, 162 blocks, 97 service aces and 654 digs.