On Nov 13, 2000, my brother's birthday, I went in for a simple procedure, a breast biopsy. It was done as an outpatient surgery so a few hours after the procedure I was allowed to go home. The next day I felt fine and was able to return to my job as manager of a local salon. A few days later my right ear began to clog up and hurt. I began to hear loud ringing in it. So when I went to the doctor for my follow up, I told the doctor about my ear. He acted like it was nothing and gave me a decongestant and sent me home. I went to work the next day and my head was hurting as were the right side of my face and neck. All through work it was hurting and by the time my shift was over it was hurting pretty bad. I called my dad, who I lived with, and asked him to come get me because I didn't feel I could drive home. So he came and got me. We stopped at the restaurant my brother worked and the pain was so bad I couldn't eat. I thought it was a toothache or my ear hurting. I told my dad all I needed was to go home and lay down then I'd feel better. When I got home I told some Tylenol and went to bed. I had a hard time sleeping due to the pain. I woke up and felt real dizzy. I stood up to go to the bathroom and fell back onto the bed. I got up and headed for the bathroom but was so dizzy I had to hang on to the wall to get there. Somehow I made it back to my bed. I called for my dad and told him how I felt. We decided there was no way I could go to work. So I called my assistant manager and told her I couldn't open the salon and how I was feeling. After arguing with her I finally just hung up. I felt so bad I just laid down.
My dad was a truck driver and drove over the road so we called my mom and told her how I was feeling and she came right over. She saw how I was feeling and gave me more Tylenol but I couldn't keep it down. She made me some soup but I couldn't keep it down either so my mom took me to the Emergency Room at the same hospital I had my biopsy done. Well they told us that I needed to keep taking the decongestant and in a few days I'd feel better. We asked for a doctor's note for work. He gave me an excuse for that day. Well we left to go home and the noise from the road, cars, everything seemed to be louder than what they were. When I got home my mom helped me straight into bed. At this point I was in sever pain and could barely hold my head up. The next day I was worse. I couldn't keep anything down so I had dry heaves. I felt as though the lining of my stomach was tearing apart. My mom looked at me and the right side of my face had begun to droop and my eyes were off. One would look forward while the other looked off to the side. My mom called the ambulance and they took me to the same hospital as before. The doctor looked at me and said my face had drooped due to Bell's Palsy and said there was nothing to worry about after a few days it will be OK. He was about to walk out when my mom brought up about my eyes. He looked at them and said it was probably due to the ear infection. She said what about the nausea and pain he told us the flu was going around and told me to finish my decongestant and gave me some medicine for nausea. Then he left so we asked the nurse for a note to be off work. She came back and said the doctor wanted me to go to work. Mom said, "She has to stand all day and cut hair, she can barely sit up." So we left without an excuse. Mom had to hunt down a wheelchair for me to leave because they gave me a walker. Anyone who has been to a county hospital emergency room knows you should plan to be there all day. I was in and out of there within an hour. There was no blood work or x-rays done.
When we got home my mom helped me to my bed . I was in so much pain and felt like all my strength was leaving my body. I felt as though I was coming out of my body and was getting scared. I remember I looked at my mom and thought that I was dying and if I go to sleep I'll never see her again. Well she turned off the lights and turned the TV on low but even that was hurting my head so she turned it off. Somehow I managed to go to sleep. I don't remember how I got to my dad's recliner but I remember sitting there and my mom talking to me but it was as though she was far away talking but her body was up close. It also sounded like she was in a tunnel. She called 911 and the paramedics came in and was checking my vitals and it was like in a movie. They were moving slow, their voices were far sounding and sounded like they were in a tunnel. They finally put me on the stretcher and in the ambulance. One paramedic asked my mom where to take m e and she hesitantly said that hospital and the paramedic told her that hospital emergency room was full and closed to ambulances. So mom said to take me to a different hospital, one that she used. So he got in the ambulance and we left. I remember lifting my head up and looking out the back windows of the ambulance to she or make sure mom was there. I don't remember arriving at the hospital and only bits and pieces of when I first got there but a spinal tap was done and I was diagnosed with MRSA Bacterial Meningitis. A very rare form of meningitis, The doctors say the only way I could have contracted that form of meningitis was in a hospital environment. We knew right then where I got it from. We tried to sue that hospital but nothing became of it. I didn't care about money or getting revenge on those doctors. I just wanted to make sure they were more careful in the future.
My life was normal for a 27 year old. I was a manager at a local salon and I loved it. I was buying a house and had a new La Baron Convertible but in one night my life was changed. I always thought bad things wouldn't happen to me they only happen to other people. Boy was I wrong. In February of 2000 I was hospitalized with pneumonia. My right lung had filled with fluid and had collapsed. The doctors had to put a tube in my back to my lung to drain the fluid. I was there for two weeks (15 days to be exact). While I was there I had several C.A.T. scans. That's when the doctor's discovered a small lump in my left breast. In November 2000, I went in for surgery to have it removed. Everything seemed OK but two days later my life changed. My left ear started hurting so I told my doctor and they told me it was an inner ear infection, gave me medicine and sent me home. Then a few days later, at work, the pain got worse. I called my dad and he came and got me. We went and ate at a restaurant
my brother worked at. I told them that my mouth, ear and neck was hurting and I couldn't eat. The next day I woke up dizzy, sick and in a lot of pain. I called my mom and she took me to the emergency room by this time I had great pain in my neck. I was nauseated and was unable to eat. I could not keep anything down. The right side of my face began to droop. My eyes were starting to look in opposite directions. They looked at them but that was it. They told me it was the flu and Bell's Palsy. Gave me medicine and sent me home. I went home and only got worse. My mom decided to stay with me for a few days. I became real sick. Couldn't keep anything down. Medicine, soup, water anything. I just slept. Even the lights started to bother me .My mom kept calling the doctor's office but they gave us something for nausea and made me an appointment a few days later. My mom said forget this and called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital. I was sent to a different hospital because that one was
full. I was admitted and then my head started hurting bad. Even Morphine couldn't help me. They did a spinal tap on me and then I was diagnosed with MRSA bacterial meningitis. They said it was the worst kind of meningitis. I became unable to swallow and was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit. The doctors told my parents I was in extremely critical condition and they did not expect me to live. Pressure was building up in my head so a catheter was put in my skull to relieve the pressure. My Neurosurgeon said I had three abscesses at the base of my brain and surgery would not be considered except as a last resort. They said if I did survive, I would probably be paralyzed. A shunt had to be put in my head that would remain there permanently. I had several surgeries. I had a trachea, a central line and tubes in my mouth and nose.
I was in the ICU unit for over a month. I was unconscious the majority of the time. At one point the family was called in because I wasn't expected to live. I was put on a new and strong antibiotic which caused my kidneys to shut down. I was placed on dialysis until my kidneys started working again. I had two small strokes. I became deaf in my right ear which they said was probably permanent. My right eye developed an ulcer. The ulcer cleared up, but left permanent scar damage. I was unconscious most of the time. I remember getting in the ambulance the next thing I remember was waking up a few weeks later in a MRI tunnel. Talk about scary.
Slowly, and to the surprise of my doctors I began to improved. I was referred to in the hospital as the miracle lady. Prayer played a major part in my recovery. I had cards everywhere from my friends, family and my church family. I honestly believe if it weren't for prayer I wouldn't be here now. I got close to God through all of this. After all, He was the only one I could talk to.
After a few weeks I was moved to a regular room. I had not eaten since I had been in ICU so a feeding tube was put in. I was unable to eat, drink or talk for the entire time I was in the hospital. My mom had taught me the alphabet in sign language when I was little which came in handy. She was the only one I could communicate with.
In January I was moved to a rehab Hospital. I had to learn to do everything all over again. I could not even sit on the side of the bed. I was just like a new-born, a 27 year old newborn. I still had my memory though. Thank God it wasn't affected. After months of therapy I learned to talk, eat, and walk with aid.
After five months of being in the hospital I went home. I still have trouble writing and doing things that most people take for granted. I am in a wheelchair. I am learning to walk without the aid of a walker, get the feeling back in my left side and do the things I did before I got sick. I have problems with my speech still because the right side of my face and throat is paralyzed. We don't know if that's permanent.
There are many like me some lost their legs or arms. Some even lost their lives. I want to make more people aware of meningitis before it gets another life. I also want more meningitis survivors aware that they are not alone and we are there for them. I often ask God, Why me? Look at all the bad people in this world why did I get sick? Then I realize that because I got sick I have helped so many others. I turned a bad situation into something good. God never gives us more than we can handle. I will always remember that. I hope you will
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Thanks for letting me share my story,
Please forward to your family and friends so they too can become aware of meningitis.
My Mom's Side of the Story
daughter Sherry Lynn Lopez, was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis MRSA in
November 2000 after suffering for several days with such a bad headache, a
high fever, and nausea. She was so bad she could not get up. After taking
her to the county hospital and they misdiagnosing her, I took her home. She
continued to get worse, so I called the ambulance and they came and said the
county hospital was full so we needed to go to another hospital. I
immediately said Osteopathic hospital where I went. She had no insurance so
I did not know how we were going to pay for it. But, God knew. She had been
employed in a Beauty salon and it turned out she could get on cobra. It
would cost some money, but guess who supplied that need.
“The doctors said she probably would not make it and I said yes she will. I never gave up. I told her neurosurgeon “Look you do your part and God will do the rest. I brought a tape player in her room and played praise music all the time. I told the nurses to play it when they made me go home. I only left at night when she was in ICU. But most of the time I slept in the waiting room. I brought all these papers that I hung on the wall that said Jesus heals, Sherry is alive and well, and several other ones. She got so many cards, and we hung them on the wall so she could see them when she was awake. Her dad and I prayed for her, and all day, I praised Jesus for healing her. Then I brought the Bible and read it to her. I would read the newspapers to her and would just talk to her like she was talking back. We worked her legs and arms so they would not get stiff. I brushed her hair and shaved her legs, and whatever I thought she would want.
When they said she was not going to make it and the family was called in, I took everyone in there one at a time and had them pray for her. My family, her dad's family, and my church family all went in one by one to pray for her.
Then when it looked hopeless, I told the devil, “You can go ahead and take my daughter if you want to, but I will tell you one thing, if you take her, I will make your life miserable for the rest of my life. I will tell everyone about Jesus and ask everyone I meet if they know the Lord and I will talk about Jesus every chance I get. And to prove it to you, I am going in every single room in this hospital and tell them about Jesus and pray for them. I went to every single room on that floor and told them. I went to another floor and a nurse came in and said I could not do that. So they made me stop, but I would ask them and talk to people in the waiting room about Jesus and Sherry living. Anyway, after that, Sherry started improving. And now, she is a living miracle. I praise God.”:
From: Martha Baker, Mom of Earthbound Angel, Sherry Lopez