Meningitis in your words

Chris Almazan's story

  • Location: USA
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects

Hello Meningitis Surviviors,

I am from America, but I am not so different from all of you in the UK. At nearly 5 months old, back in 1968, I contracted a deadly meningitis. Meningococcol meningitis. Back then, symptoms were nearly unrecognizable to hospitals, let alone the nurses and other aides. From what my Mother told me time and again, my symptoms were screaming from the top of my lungs, probably from the headaches and pain, to a very high fever throughout my body and very limp, as if I had no control of my limbs.

My parents, rushed me to the hospital, where by extreme luck, the Pediatrician who delivered me a few months earlier, was working. At that moment, the doctor felt exactly what I may have had and ordered a spinal tap immediately. To this day, I can only imagine what my parents and siblings were feeling, I am the youngest of four. When the tests came back positive for meningitis, I had already slipped into a coma, and was in there for nearly a week.

Being only five months old at the time, my veins were to small for a normal IV drip through the arms, so they had to use my legs for that, I still have the scarrs to prove it, and they remind me of what I been through so early in life.

The doctor informed my parents that the odds of surviving meningitis were bleak, I may live but because it thins the lining of the brain, which leads to infection and God knows what else, damage to the body entirely, that I can lose my eyesight and/or hearing, develop paralysis, or a host of other life changing challenges. And because at the time, they weren't sure how fast this could spread in our house, they informed my parents to immediately throw away any toys I may have played with up to the point of infection. Not knowing for sure what I had touched, or to be safe parents, they threw away all of my toys and my sibling's toys.

As I slowly recovered, and as the first few years went by, I learned of my acute astigmatism. My eyesight prescription has nearly been the same my entire life, until recently as I have gotton older it is changing for the worse. My hearing loss was later discovered in early pre-school, deaf in my right ear and severe loss in my left. To this day, I have not worn any hearing aides, to my family's dismay, but I am learning ASL, and also waiting for technology to catch up to my disability, or at least I hope it does. As for the years through elementary, middle and high school, those years were a struggle academically. My parents struggled to decide wether to insert me other disabled kids in school or let me be a normal kid, or try to, and learn with the rest. To say the least, I stayed with the normal kids through out my school years and I can honestly say now, that was a very bad decision.

As an adult now, I didn't know, nor anyone else, know the true outcome of advanced effects of meningitis and its long term affect on humans. I struggled to get jobs when I was younger. I couldn't join the Army or Marines because of my hearing. I couldn't be a police office either. My struggle with stuttering through childhood all the way to adulthood has been not only embarrassing but still hard to live with. Speech therapy has helped at times but it is still a struggle.

I came to accept that there were no benefits for disabilities of my type, who fall in the middle of society. I'm not disabled enough to obtain a placard for parking privileges but I am disabled enough to get in early registration for college classes.

I would like to say, life with after effects meningitis is a continuing struggle. Through work, social, and everything else that comes my way. But as survivors, you can push forward and prove not only to everyone else, but yourself, that your life is valuable and you are worthy of all of lifes offering, good or bad.

If I can do it, so can you!

I will do whatever it takes to support any survivor of meningitis.

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