‘Hawaiian Mike’s’ fight to recovery

 

Last updated 6/28/2022 at Noon

CODY RHEAULT

Micheal Ayalon is battling a severe leg infection that has kept him in the hospital for weeks. A GoFundMe page, “Help ‘Hawaiian Mike’ on his medical journey,” has been established to help with what will be months of recovery.

Translucent tubing and medical bands protrude from the wrist as Micheal Alayon grips the handrail of his hospital bed in the fight of his life. In his fifth-floor room, he sifts through his foggy memory to recount the moments leading up to this. Now seven surgeries deep, they’ve begun to blur together as the days slowly tick by.

Better known as “Hawaiian Mike,” he manages to smile through the battle, keeping an ever-positive spin on a tragic turn of circumstances. He uses the Hawaiian term ohana, meaning family, to get through the days.

“They need me, and I need them,” he says.

And that carries him through the unknown.

On Wednesday, June 7, Mike was diagnosed with kidney failure and necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and dangerous bacterial infection that requires surgery and intravenous antibiotics. The night before his health plummeted, he was working his night shift at Fred Meyer re-stocking shelves. A nagging pain in his left ankle crept up. He eased it with ibuprofen, and finished the eight-hour shift. The next morning he came home and took his kids to school. The swelling in his foot had intensified, and he had to use scissors to remove his sock.

“My foot was a range of colors from blues, purples to reds,” he said.

His wife rushed him to urgent care, where the doctor urged him to go to the emergency room instead. At St. Charles Bend, he was quickly diagnosed with a life-threatening infection.

Mike was rushed into surgery, where doctors spent hours surgically removing and cleaning the infection that had taken over his entire left leg. In surgery, his blood pressure plummeted. Doctors fought to maintain his vitals and placed him on a ventilator and under ICU care. More surgeries followed — three within 72 hours.

It was a rollercoaster of complications, he explains.

“I thought I would lose my leg, or my life,”he said. “It was terrifying.”

He immediately thought of his family, ohana: his two boys, Kainoa, 12 years old, and Brody, 10 years old, and his wife, Kimberly Goe, and their home and life in Sisters. Mike took a deep breath, and knew regardless of the path ahead he had to make it for them.

Since his admission on June 7 he’s undergone seven surgeries and spent three weeks in the hospital. His left leg, tightly bound in clear bandaging and packed gauze, resembles a lightning strike scar tracing a gouged path on a tree. Surgical incisions span the length of his leg, and he’s lost most of its function and mobility.

Mike isn’t sure how or when the infection took place. But he recalls getting a cut to his left ankle back in January 2022 that never fully healed.

“Whatever started it, it eventually grew like wildfire,” he said.

Although far from recovered, Mike says he’s eager to get back to his family and home in Sisters. He moved from Portland in 2009 and quickly become a figure in the Sisters community. He coaches Sisters Little League baseball and softball, and flag football with Sisters Park & Recreation District. Mike says he has a deep-rooted love and passion for the community, although it’s a drastic change from island life in Hawaii where he was born and raised. And that passion remains one of his driving forces toward his recovery.

“But this is no game and not a laughing matter,” he said. “This is reality.”

And reality has been a challenge. Father’s Day this year looked different for the Alayon family. After another surgery, Mike awoke from the anesthesia to his family by his side and his two boys greeting their dad. It wasn’t the Father’s Day he or his family had imagined.

Mike estimates two to three months in the hospital, with the guarantee of a very long road to recovery ahead. But he remains determined.

“My boys need me. My wife needs me,” he said.

He points toward the broad wooden door to his room: “So I’m walking out of here someday.”

He expresses enormous gratitude to the staff of St. Charles Bend for their unfailing care and love and to the many members of the community who have stepped up to support him and his family during this time.

A GoFundMe page, “Help ‘Hawaiian Mike’ on his medical journey” was started, with the hopes of helping with medical and living expenses. It has raised over $18,000 in 10 days, with a goal of reaching $75,000. His wife’s work and massage business, Rustic Moon Massage, is now their sole source of income, and that has him concerned. A mortgage and increased cost of living has tightened the budget more than ever.

“I’m not putting out a sob story, this is real life. I’m one of Sisters’ own,” he said.

Not one to ask for help — but instead give it — Mike says it hasn’t been easy to share his struggles. But his condition forced his hand.

“It’s OK to ask for help sometimes, even when you don’t want to,” he said.

And to those who have already stepped up he says, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has given.”

Today, Mike is faced with the looming unknown. The journey is a wave of improvement and backsliding, good days quickly followed by bad days. But what he does know is that his long road to recovery is lined with friends, family, and a spirit to see it through. He keeps the spirit of ohana close to his heart, and the image of family in front of him.

Shaking his traditional shaka, the pinky-and-thumb hang-loose sign, he smiles wide and says, “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m going to walk out of here and be with my family again someday.”

Access Hawaiian Mike’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/Help-Hawaiian-Mike-on-his-medical-journey.

A meal train has been established at https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/4mqvy2

 

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