Emily Marie Katzaman-Essick
Born March 13,1992 - Heaven Bound November 12,2001
On Saturday, 11/10/01, Emily became sick around 11pm. She crawled into our bed with a fever of 102 degrees. She vomited during the night and she said she had a headache. I remember at a doctors visit many years ago, her doctor did the "chin check". I asked why and she said to check for Meningitis, that usually the neck would hurt going up and down and side to side. Well, I did the "chin check", she wasn't hurting. Emily slept off and on all night. She woke up early Sunday morning, 11/11/01 and was weak, but, her fever was gone. This is very uncharacteristic of Meningitis. Usually, it gets worse hour by hour and very quickly.
I called the doctors office and they did not feel she needed to be seen. They said it sounded like the flu and to make sure she gets plenty of rest and fluids. All of us thought she had the flu. Later on in the day, she was vomiting off and on in small amounts. Again, I called the doctor. The doctor said that she has the flu and that this was normal. She told me to give Emily Benedryl, that sometimes that helps coat the belly and makes the vomiting stop. I gave Emily the medicine and she went back upstairs to take a nap. I checked on her several times. My mom had stopped by to visit and went upstairs to see Emily as well. She didn't think anything was" terribly" wrong either. After a while, she came downstairs, looking very pale, weak and disoriented. I took her temp and it was registering at 92.7. I called the doctor again, and she said well that can't be the right temp and maybe she is dazed from the Benedryl. The doctor told me to call her back in 20 minutes with an update. Emily was now on our sofa in the living room. I asked her her name, and she answered" Emily". I asked her how many fingers am I holding up , again, she answered correctly. I tried taking her temp again and this time, she couldn't keep her mouth closed. I thought she was kidding around. I was saying " Emily, come on knock it off ". Then her eyes rolled back into her head and she was moaning. She was having a seizure. She was non responsive. We called 911.I called my parents. The neighbor came over to help.
She was taken to our local hospital. On the way there, I was in the front of the ambulance. My husband was following behind us. I heard them saying " she's posturing ". Which I later learned she was seizing, still. They were trying to get an IV into her. I was hanging out the window almost throwing up. When we arrived at the hospital, she was given antibiotics, blood was drawn, and a cat scan was done. The ER was all about Emily for that next hour. The cat scan showed no swelling, no tumors, no bleeding. By this time, my aunt came to stay with our children at home so that my parents could be at the hospital. Her pediatrician showed up next. Evidently, when I didn't call back in 20 minutes, she called us. Emily's eyes were fixed to the left. She was not responding at all, except for a little movement in her arm when given a shot. Her doctor decided that she needed to be at a children's hospital. She was airlifted to a children's hospital. The nurses in the ER cried with us. My husband and I had to drive to the hospital, it is about 1 hour. My parents went home to our other children, Timmy , then 7 years old and Elyse, then 4 months old.
While we were driving, my husband kept saying, "everything will be ok, she'll probably be home tomorrow". I kept saying " no, this is serious". And yes, Meningitis did cross my mind. My sister and her husband, who is a doctor live near the hospital where Emily was flown to. They arrived before us. When we arrived, my sister said" was she on life support when she left Reading"? I told her that she wasn't. They took Emily right pass my sister and her husband and Emily was now on life support.
For the next 2 hours, we waited and waited. Finally, the doctor came out. He had been trying to save my daughter's life. He sat us down and told us that she has Bacterial Meningitis and that he believes she is already brain dead. He said tests were done which showed no brain activity and that the tests would be repeated in 6 hours. The rest of our family was called to come to the hospital. We had to wait all night long to get a second opinion from a pediatric neurologist ( state law). Emily was pronounced brain dead from Neisseria Meningitis on 11/12/01 at 11:10am. Her neurological exams were done 11 hours apart. It appears Emily left us in the helicopter. I found out much later that her blood pressure had dropped, her temp was 91 degrees, and her brain had swelled , "hernia ion syndrome".
Our lives are forever changed. How is one prepared in life to bury a child? We donated her organs and she has saved the lives of 2 other people and her heart valves were recovered and just transplanted in September of 2003.
Emily was a very happy child. She was good in school and just started to learn how to play the clarinet. She was always smiling, that smile is what everyone remembers about her. Emily has 1 sister, Elyse, who is now 4 years old and 2 brothers, Tim who is now 11 years old and Tristan, whom she has never met , who is 2 years old.
My husband and I feel we have been given Emily's voice to educate and spread awareness of this deadly, silent disease. We went all the way to our state capitol last year and went before the House Of Representatives. We have become very active in meningitis awareness and we have done many news articles and television interviews hoping that parents, doctors and schools will take this more seriously.
Contact (Robin) Emily's Mom firstname.lastname@example.org
On a personal note:
My Dearest Emily,
Oh, how we miss you. How we wish we could have saved your life. You will never be forgotten. Your friends, and teachers still come to see us and keep in contact with us. Your friends and teachers painted a mural of dolphins in the lobby of your school. And there has been a memorial garden with a bench and your name dedicated to you. We light a purple candle on our porch all day, on 11/12 and 3/13. Can you see the light of the flame from where you are? On your birthday, we all gather at your resting place and send you purple balloons, are you getting them? This year, ( 3/13/05, you would have been 13 years old) mommy made chocolate and purple cupcakes and over 40 people were there! We all love you and miss you. Elyse knows all about you and Tristan is learning about you. And of course, Timmy will never forget you...he misses you terribly. We promise to continue to use your voice and God's strength in educating people about Meningitis.
Until we meet again,
All of our love, hugs and kisses,
Mommy, Daddy- BB, Timmy, Elyse and Tristan
You Raise Me Up