In 1971, I was stricken with meningitis at ten years of age. At first, my mother thought my symptoms were a cold or virus. But when they persisted, I went to see the doctor.
A family friend had recently tested positive for hepatitis, so my doctor sent me directly to the emergency room at the nearby hospital. Tests on my liver were negative for hepatitis, and a spinal tap confirmed meningitis.
By this time, my temperature averaged at 108 degrees and lasted two weeks. I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. My doctor told my mother that he expected me to only live for one week. I was in hospital in a coma for a total of ten weeks. My older sister, Julie, tells me that during that time, I also was put into a bed of ice to help cool down my body.
To help bring me out of my coma, I underwent a major surgery so that doctors could implant a shunt in my brain. The shunt is designed to help relieve the pressure.
My experience with meningitis has had a life-long impact. When I emerged from my coma, I was Deaf. And since the placement of the shunt in 1971, I have experienced three other comas and associated surgeries related to shunt issues.
In 2004, I joined the Meningitis Angels
in the United States to share my experience as a meningitis survivor. It is so important to act quickly and to learn from each other so that there is greater awareness and more lives can be saved.