Kyle Hendrix

December 2, 2004 

            My journey to helping the fight against meningitis began innocently enough.  Sometimes it seems like so long ago, and other days it feels like yesterday.  It all started in the fall of 1994.  I wasn’t too different than any other victim of meningitis.  Went to high school, worked at a fast food joint flippin’ chicken burgers, and hung out with my friends on weekends.  I liked working on cars and goofing off.  I made decent grades, but like most teens I wasn’t overly concerned about my future, my life, my general well being, or my contribution to my family, friends, and society.  Then came Sunday, October 30th.  I didn’t wake up knowing that the wonderful headache I was having was my mortality staring me in the face.  I just knew that I felt horrible.  Headache, photophobia, nausea, vomiting, and muscle weakness were the initial symptoms that morning.  I remember slowly becoming more tired as the day went on….I took about five baths because that was the only comfortable thing to do….when I wasn’t taking a bath I was lying on the living room floor watching football (Jets vs Saints if I remember correctly, forgive me if the memory is a little hazy j/k) ….. By five o’clock that evening my mother found me kneeling on the floor in my room unable to stand.  That is when my mother decided to transport me to the Midland Memorial Hospital.  At this point I will have to refer you to my mother’s story because I lost consciousness for about the next three days.  That is where I will pick up.  My first memory after the car ride to the hospital was waking up and seeing my Dad’s parents in my room, and my first thought was that if my grandparents were in my room while I was sleeping something must be wrong.  I slowly regained my bearings and was told that it was Wednesday.  Of course this came as quite a shock, but that was only the beginning.  My next big shock was finding out that I had been gravely ill, on the verge of death with every organ system hanging by a thread….  The next shock came when I was told to look at my right arm and noticed the huge black marks on my fingers and hands (which I later learned was caused by the rupture of blood vessels leading to necrosis of the area which these vessels perfused).  It was very difficult to comprehend at first and I felt very sorry for myself, but with the help of terrific family, friends (Jeff Rowland, Trey Farris, and Joel Holland), and faith I slowly began to understand that I was very lucky to just be alive. Over the next three to four weeks I stayed in the hospital.  I had two surgeries to remove most of my thumb, index, and middle fingers.  After I left the hospital I had more surgeries including skin grafts and a toe thumb transfer (moved right big toe to my hand for a functional thumb).  I also had great physical therapists that helped me get my strength and confidence back.  After it was all over I began to realize that even though I lost some weight and fingers I also gained a lot.  I gained a greater appreciation for life and a much more positive outlook.  Before this experience I probably would not have been ready to go to college or medical school.  Afterward I knew that I wanted to help prevent other people from having to go through the same experience that I had and that I wanted to help all people with illnesses. 

            Since my recovery I have gone to Texas A&M and earned my mechanical engineering degree.  While at A&M I was a member of the Corps of Cadets, had an Environmental Engineering internship at Enron, an HS&E internship at Gatorade, and a Manufacturing Engineering Co-op at Parker-Hannifin.  I am currently a 3rd year medical student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine/University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth.  After school I plan to do a residency in Internal Medicine and then sub-specialize in either Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Nephrology, or Infectious Disease. 

            In addition to medical school I stay involved with meningitis awareness as a member of the Meningitis Earth Bound Angels and part of the Teen Angels Leadership Team and a national board member for the Meningitis Foundation of America.  When I am not seeing patients, studying, or working on meningitis awareness I play ice hockey, soccer, and flag football with my medical school classmates. 

 

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