Meningitis in your words

Krystyl Elizabeth Lass's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Krystyl Elizabeth Lass

My sweet little girl, Krystyl Elizabeth contracted meningococcal septicaemia at the age of five months and 10 days.

After being misdiagnosed at urgent care (two hours after sudden fever of 103.8 under arm), and again at ER (we arrived, eight and a half hours after onset of fever). Although she was deteriorating and had the purpura rash, they sent us home with a diagnosis of a virus that should be better in three days.

"Just 21 hours had passed since that damn fever started... and she was gone."

Amazingly enough, they did blood tests as well as a spinal tap but found nothing. We were discharged after four hours and told to make a follow-up appointment with her pediatrician (now 12 and a half hours from onset of high fever) and returned home. My husband went to sleep and I stayed awake, bathing, holding, loving and wondering why she was so sick. Why she moaned at my touch, why she wasn't active or ate.

Her appointment was for 2pm, but because Krystyl was so very, very sick we left about a half an hour earlier than we needed to. By this time, (17 and a half hours had elapsed since the fever started) she was so lethargic and hadn't taken her bottle (even at the ER she wouldn't drink the Pedialyte, it just ran out of her mouth) for many hours. She was going downhill fast.

We arrived at the pediatrician's office and as soon as they saw her rash (by this time it was covering most of her little 12 pound body) they rushed us into a room, as they called the fire department and ambulance. Approximately 16 hours had passed since her fever began.

FINALLY, we learned what was causing this horrifying illness... it was bacterial meningitis type B, and she was now septic. Krystyl was taken by ambulance across the street to the hospital, and then flown by life-flight helicopter to Phoenix Children's Hospital as her father and I followed in disbelief in our truck.

When we arrived at the hospital, they informed us she was extremely sick and they were trying very hard to save her. What? What did you say? How can this be? The other doctors had said it was just a viral infection, and she would be fine in three days! We were taken to a room, instructed on how to scrub our hands and led to our daughter's side.

Nearly 20 hours have passed since the fever began. She was lying on the bed, motionless, machine's beeping, oxygen humming, tubes giving her fluids, antibiotics finally being administered, and now completely covered in the distinct purple rash (purpura). We held her hands and begged her to fight, we stroked her hair and pleaded with her to get better, we... uh-oh machines are beeping loudly, we are escorted out of the room. They are trying desperately to save her. We are taken to the family's private waiting room. They tell us, that if at any time we want them to stop life saving interventions, just give the word.

What? What did you just say? Of course, you can't stop trying to save her... she's my baby, you have to save her. She was fine yesterday, she won 2nd place in a baby beauty contest 10 days earlier, she can't die!

A short time later we are escorted back to the intensive care unit. We are allowed back into her room after we scrub in. Her father and I are on each side of her. Less than 21 hours since the fever started. We hold her tiny little hands, "come on Krystyl, you can beat this", we stroke her soft wavy hair "Mommy and Daddy are here", we touch her sweet baby skin "We love you", you can do this... machines start beeping loudly... I look up and watch as her heart rate hits 40, I will always remember seeing the number, 40.

The nurse gently moves me towards Krystyl's feet as she starts chest compressions... ONE, (I watch as her tiny little 12 pound body is pressed under the nurse's weight), TWO... I look across at my husband, tears streaming down our faces and plead, "can we stop, let's just stop, please... let her go" "let her go..." Just 21 hours had passed since that damn fever started... and she was gone.

Krystyl would've turned 22 this year, perhaps graduated from college, and maybe even started a family. Please immunize your loved ones, prevent this tragedy in your family.

It only took 21 hours for our lives to change, forever.

Angela Howard
May 2013