Jennifer Nicole Boren

Born June 4, 1976


The first time I had meningitis was when I was 23...I am 29 now (was born June 4, 1976). I was taking classes at the local college to get my degree in Biology/Microbiology the year before, and it had gotten so hectic between classes, extra-curricular activities (I was taking Tae Kwon Do & kickboxing while competing in tournaments), and looking for work, that I had to take a break.  It was in January I remember and very cold. I noticed the day before I was extremely tired - the way I always get before I get sick. I woke up the next morning with the mother of all migraines and nausea. My lower back and legs also hurt very badly. I surmised that I was getting another sinus infection since I am prone to them. That is the only thing I usually get sick with, I've only had the flu 3 times and have never once had a cold. But I also have CVID (common variable immunodeficiency) which is genetic and does not allow me to make IgG antibodies to fight off infections....I remember my allergist/immunologist telling me more than once to watch out for 3 things - pneumonia, septicemia, & meningitis. Since this was before he caught the disorder though, meningitis really never entered my mind. It was never caught until I was 25. Anyway, after I woke up with that horrible headache I took some Excedrin and laid back down, flipped on the television, and waited a few minutes. It put a small dent in it, but nothing more. Once more I got up and got and icepack out of the freezer to put on my head, and took a couple of hydrocodone to help everything. I never did get very comfortable. I might note that with migraines that get as bad as this one is, I once in a while have to go to the ER to get a shot to break it. My boyfriend at the time was off that day so I knew he would take me to get the shot if I needed it. A few minutes later he came over as usual. By this time I had chills, there was sweat running down the side of my face and back, I was cold, but I could feel the heat coming off my face. He sat down beside me and wanted to know if I wanted to go out, and I told him "not today, I think I may be getting another sinus infection." We proceeded to watch Tv for a while but I just kept feeling worse and my neck hurt so bad whenever I would move my head. He saw I had the icepack and asked about the headache and I told him it hurt worse than any I had ever had before and it felt different. When I told him everything else going on he said I needed to see a doc. I didn't argue much, I just grabbed my jacket and shoes and we left. When we got to the ER it was pretty full since it was flu season, but after signing in it didn't take long before we were called back. While we waited for the doctor to come in I had Trevor turn the lights off because my eyes hurt. A while later he came in and after a quick examination he asked "can you touch your chin to your chest?" I tried twice but couldn't and it hurt more than I can describe. He then said "I don't want to scare you, but I think you have meningitis." I asked "What will happen to me?" after he explained about medication, he then ordered a CT scan and a spinal tap. I explained how much pain I was in so he ordered a shot of Demerol & phenergen. The CT scan looked good, so then he did the spinal tap and took blood. My proteins were elevated and he said it was viral and not bacterial, so he ordered one more shot of deluded and sent me home with some more pain medicine. A total of 3 weeks went by before this ever cleared up, when I got home I started vomiting and my mom took me to a minor emergency room about 10 minutes away. The doc there was really nice, and gave me a shot of Nubian and phenergan, which helped the nausea but not the headache and other stuff. No one new what to do. He said all I could really do was go home, get rest, take whatever meds I needed and call him if things got worse. Thank God it finally stopped a couple weeks was pure hell. The second time I got meningitis was almost just as was when I was 27. This was in the fall of 2003, and I started out with a headache and sore throat. The next day I had body aches, sinus congestion, and a stiff neck & back...not to mention the sore throat was really bad by now.  Again the headache got so bad I wound up in the ER once more...they took me back IMMEDIATELY and put me on all kinds of monitors because my heart rate was 140 - 160 and my blood pressure was very low. They surmised that with the headache and the fact that my neck was so stiff I had meningitis and septicemia. But no rash, so how could that be? they immediately started me on vancomycin and something for pain, also ordering a CT scan and spinal tap. The CT once again looked good and the spinal tap showed nothing. The doc was at a loss. He then sent me home! the next day I saw my PCP and she asked me "have you been around and mesquites?" i had been at the lake a lot with my boyfriend so I told her yes. She then said "I think you have aseptic meningitis, and I want to test you for west Nile." the nurse then came in to take blood. a few days later I went back in to see the results of the test. "You tested positive for west Nile" she said. "The meningitis you have is a complication of that. They should have put you in the hospital." she also said. since there is not much you can do for west Nile I rested up for the next couple weeks until the symptoms passed. It was like a bad case of strep and the flu together. My friends and doctors say that one is a killer and they are really surprised I lived through unscathed especially since I have a compromised immune system. If a doctor sends you home with meningitis, get a second opinion!


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