Erica Vanzuidam

September 15, 1985

Erica became ill with meningitis on May 11, 2005, while at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Erica had the classic meningitis symptoms, headache, stomach ache, flu like symptoms, throwing up, and then the purple spots. Erica friends took her to Carle Hospital early in the morning on May 11. When she arrived at the ER the doctors knew immediately what she had, a spinal tap confirmed bacterial meningitis. When we (Erica's mom and myself) arrived at Carle Hospital Erica was already in the ICU and in very critical condition, this was less than 24 hours from her first symptom which was a headache. We saw her only for a few moments and then the doctors had to put her on a breathing tube-respirator and sedate her as her organs were shutting down one by one, kidney. liver, lungs, gastrointestinal, and so on, she was dyeing. Erica was at Carle Hospital in the ICU from May 11 until June 26, she remembers nothing about the time she was there. As with most meningitis survivors Erica had severe damage to her hands and feet due to loss of circulation. On June 26 Erica was helicopter transferred to the University of Chicago Hospital where she would have 3 surgeries. The first surgery Erica had her right foot amputated just below the knee, and part of her left foot. Erica's second surgery was shortly after that and she had both of her hands amputated below the elbow. The final surgery was done the end of July, the doctors had to amputate Erica's left foot below the knee as they could not successfully save it. On August 1st Erica was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where she would begin her therapy and also begin to be fit for prosthetic hands and feet. Erica was released to come home on September 8. After that Erica continued her outpatient therapy at RIC through the end of 2005. By the beginning of this year, 2006 Erica's therapy was pretty much done and she was doing quite well. Erica was driving again and making plans to go back to school at the University of Illinois in the fall. Erica has decided to change her major from Math-Education to Kinesiology with her focus on prosthetics, she wants to be an occupational therapist herself when she graduates college. Aside from her amputations and the many scars, Erica has no problems internally. This was an answer to many prayers as we were very concerned that Erica would have brain damage and possibly permanent kidney damage from her illness. Erica just got a new set of prosthetic legs and has been cast and is in the process of getting mayo-electric hands as her hooks have certain limitations. With the support of Erica's family and friends and most importantly her faith in The Lord Jesus Christ she has been able to be content and maintain a positive attitude. Erica does not take life for granted and is looking forward to what's in store for her down the road. One of her favorite passages is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"