Adrienne Arey

Adrienne and fiancť' Zach

 

Valentineís Day weekend of 2004 changed my life forever.  No, it wasnít because I was a sophomore in college and it was my first time celebrating Valentineís Day with someone special, it was because of something that I just thought was the flu that rushed me to the emergency room.  I started to feel ill after my boyfriend, Zach and I had come back from dinner on the 14th.  I didnít think much of it, and went to sleep, but was awoken in the middle of the night with vomiting, and shortly after that, began to feel weaker and weaker to the point where I could barely walk.  Early the next morning I was still sure I had some awful bout of the flu, but when Zach began asking me if I thought I should go to the ER, my first response was no.  I had never been to an ER before and surely whatever I had was not that serious.  After some urging on his part, I agreed to go to the ER.  I still remember how weak I was and how difficult it was to climb down the two flights of stairs to get to the car.  When we got to the ER, I was so weak I had to be wheeled in.  When I was taken in to get my vital stats taken, everything appeared normal.  The attending ER doctor at the time told me that it was probably just the flu, that I could go home and drink a lot of Gatorade and I should be fine.  I asked if I could stay and have a bag of fluid instead because I was afraid of going home so soon.  After a few bags, the nurses were nervous that my blood pressure was not going up.  In fact, it had dropped down so low that the machines were unable to read my blood pressure and even the head nurse had a hard time taking it manually.  I donít remember the exact number but it was somewhere around 40 over 20.  Thank God there were some nurses who were paying close enough attention to my symptoms because shortly after that, I began to develop purple blotches all over my skin.  This got their attention because they hadnít seen anything like that before, and had my vital stats taken again.  In that short amount of time, my white blood count had skyrocketed.  They kept me in the ER to continue observing and pumping liquids into me.  Most of that night is a little hazy, although I am surprised how much I do remember.  I remember around 11 or so at night, having an internal medicine doctor and another doctor see me to figure out what was wrong with me.  I also remember having to get a spinal tap done and also that one of the doctors told Zach to call my parents because it was serious.  (We had only been dating for a little over a month at the time, and he had never met or spoken to my parents).  I remember being told that I had Meningococcal Meningitis, and being so scared that I was going to die.  What I didnít know until later was that the doctor wanted my parents to fly in from MA to MD because they werenít sure if I was going to survive.  I was in the ICU for a few days, which I donít really remember, and then was transferred to a regular floor where I was for nearly 2 weeks.  I remember being so weak in my hospital bed that it was a monumental effort to even roll over in bed, never mind even trying to get up.  For a while, the nurses did not want me getting up, but when they finally did, it was such a struggle to even get to the bathroom.  Sometimes when I tried to get up, I would black out and have to sit back down again.  Just when I felt like I was getting stronger, I had a setback from the steroids I was on.  I had some sort of reaction to the steroids and I began to get incredibly weak again.  I also formed a blood clot in my upper arm as a result of the IVs that had been prodded in my veins for so long.  To this day I have a few numb spots on my fingers and calves, and have a few scars from those purplish blood marks on my skin but luckily I do not have any other lasting effects from the meningitis.  

 

I do think about how incredibly lucky I am though that I was with Zach, who brought me to the ER quickly enough that they had caught the meningitis before it got to my brain.  I truly believe that God had sent him to me because he did save my life.  If I hadnít been with him, I would have been by myself in my dorm room and would not have dragged myself to the ER.  I try not to think about what could have happened, although sometimes I do and I am very emotional about my experience, even now, 3 years later.  Zach and I are engaged to be married this year and I continue to count my blessings because life truly is a gift.  I have begun to view life differently and see how fragile it really is, and how important it is to truly live each day with the people who mean the most to you.

 

 

~Adrienne Arey   Maryland

 

 

Here is something I wrote while I was still in the hospital.  Although very feeble, and struggling to even hold a pen, I wrote the following words which I hold very close to my heart:

ďI am aliveÖ I never realized just how precious these words were before now.  I guess sometimes it takes a miracle from God.  In an instant, your life can change Ė just like that.  I guess I always knew that, but because nothing tragic had ever happened in my life before, I sort of took my life for granted. 

Then one fateful day I became stricken with an illness so fast that I didnít even know what was happening.  Having never been a sickly person, I panicked, but it was through the grace of God and my wonderful boyfriend, Zach, that I got to the ER early enough for the disease, which turned out to be bacterial meningitis to be caught before it attacked my vital organs.

This week in the hospital has been a blurÖ I am feeling better now, although still quite weak.  It still hasnít hit me just how close to death I was, but I think of the positive that I am alive, and I can feel like and Godís love more than everÖ and I am ever thankful for my family and friends who picked me up and led me out of the darkness and back into Godís beautiful hands.  I am ready to experience everything life has to offerÖ I am alive.Ē

- Adrienne Arey    February 2004