Back from the brink: Popular Fargo bar manager has 'miracle' recovery
FARGO — There seemingly wasn't much to be thankful for last Thanksgiving for family and friends of Jason "Teddy" Ramstad.
The good-natured general manager of Chub's Pub, 421 N. University Drive, had been hospitalized since mid-August 2017, much of that time in intensive care, following a wave of catastrophic health problems.
After suffering a heart attack and respiratory arrest, his liver and kidneys began failing, and multiple, stubborn infections and complications made him increasingly confused and inactive. Ramstad was a blood clot or bout of pneumonia away from certain death. He wasn't expected to live through the end of the year.
His mother, Jan Doyle Ramstad, was heartbroken to see her son's condition fade.
"It was probably the worst three and a half months I've ever been through," she said, her voice choked with emotion.
She and her other son, Brett, reluctantly made plans to take Ramstad off dialysis and begin palliative care.
They let friends know they had about a week to say their goodbyes.
Apparently, it wasn't Teddy's time.
What happened next was an awakening that stunned the medical staff caring for him and his family.
"Such a blessing. Such a miracle," his mother said, reflecting on the turnaround.
Instead of planning a funeral, friends set up an evening of music called Tedstock on Sunday, April 22, to celebrate Teddy's comeback and to raise funds for his ongoing medical expenses.
'He woke up'
When the call went out for friends to visit, they came in droves — two dozen or more each day, in and out of Ramstad's hospital room, holding his hand and reminiscing about the days at then-Moorhead State University, going to North Dakota State University football games and hanging out at Chub's.
A group of women who lived in an apartment across the hall from Ramstad nearly 30 years ago came from the Twin Cities to pay their respects.
Longtime friend Matt Entzion, who met Ramstad in 1991 when both were freshmen at what's now called Minnesota State University Moorhead, visited daily and saw the progression.
"Literally every day, he woke up more and more," Entzion said. "I've just never seen anything like it."
For Jason's mother, the turnaround was almost abrupt.
One day he was sedated and "out of it," and the next day he was sitting up in bed, greeting her and asking her how she was doing.
"First conversation I'd had with him for almost four months, so yeah, it was a total shock," she said.
Ramstad, now 45, thrives on social interaction, and Entzion thinks the many visits from friends in the hospital helped pull him out of the depths.
"The energy of everything kind of revitalized him," Entzion said.
Being social is a big part of Ramstad's work at Chub's and he's anxious to get back.
"It's the best part of the job actually, the interactions with people, and that's what I miss the most," he said.
The bar has been in the family since 1980, when Ramstad's grandfather bought it. His mother does the books, while an uncle deals with liquor reps.
He hopes to be back on the job with them by the fall.
While his liver and kidney functions have returned to normal, he needs more strength and stamina before returning to work.
"I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm getting better and stronger, and that's what counts," he said.
Getting a do-over
Lying in bed for so long, Ramstad said his muscles atrophied. But he's quick to point out the progress he's made in therapy.
"Two months ago, I couldn't stand on my own," he said.
Now, he's riding a stationary bike, working on his balance and trying to switch from a walker to a cane. He even started driving again last week.
He said he is grateful to the medical staff at Sanford Health, Vibra Hospital, a long-term acute care facility, and to ManorCare, where he's undergoing therapy.
Entzion, who helped plan the upcoming Tedstock, said his friend knows he was given a do-over that few people get.
He thinks it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
"It's a reflection of the person he has been to everybody in this community," Entzion said.
If you go:
What: "Tedstock," a fundraiser for Jason "Teddy" Ramstad
When: 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday, April 22
Where: Sanctuary Events Center, 607 4th Ave. N., Fargo
Info: Silent auction and live music by Adios Pantalones, Rick Adams, Earthquakes & Heartaches, Poitin Band and Michael Pink. Free will donations at the door. To donate online, visit https://lendahandup.org/help-a-family/