How our life changed all in one day. On Tuesday April 4,2006, I took Rylee (Tyler's little sister) to the doctor as she had been running a little fever and was not herself. They said she had a real bad ear infection and tonsillitis. They put her on a different antibiotic this time as the amoxicillin just was not getting her completely better. We had had a lot of different sickness including influenza A in our house this winter. Seems a lot of people have been sick this winter and we had had our share. That night I sat with Tyler and did algebra at the table. He had commented a couple times that he had the chills and was dizzy. I just figured maybe it was his turn to be sick with the flu. By Wednesday morning he looked awful. He was running a fever and just ached all over. More specifically, thinking back now, he had cold hands and feet and complaining of his legs and feet hurting. We told him he probably had the influenza A that his brother had had 3 weeks prior and it really wiped him out then. I work at home, so I was able to watch him all day, making sure he stayed hydrated and Tylenol/Motrin alternating for the fever. It was about 4:45 that evening when Tyler said, "Mom come look at this rash on my arms." I went to look and it started out a weird rash, nothing I had seen before. They were pinprick like marks on his arms and thighs. I called up to the doctor office and they told me since it was almost 5:00 to watch him and if it got too bad to go to the ER. They made him an appointment for 8:30 the next morning. I called my husband at work and let him know.
Right away I got on the internet to look up meningitis. See this was April 5 now and on March 12 we had a high school boy in the town 8 miles away die rapidly from meningococcal meningitis. My brother and brother-in-law were paramedics on the rescue call to his house. They had commented when talking about it how fast it all progressed and about the weird rash that Jake had. When I finally found a web site with pictures, it said to do a tumber test. So, my younger son and I took a shot glass and pressed it on the rash that Tyler now had. It did blanch away, so I just told Tyler that we will watch it. At about 6:00 the PA from the doctor's office called our house. She apologized that she did not get back to me earlier and asked what was going on as she had a message that I had called the office (she called from her home). I told her about Tyler's symptoms including stiff neck, throwing up, and rash. She said we should get him started on Rocephin. Then she realized that he was not 18 and would need an injection. She said she would call the doctor and get back to me. She returned the call saying, doctor thinks it is probably a strep rash and that since we have an appointment in the morning just to watch him. She said go to the ER if it gets any worse or problems develop." I told her I have seen a strep rash before and that this was not one. As the night progressed it was in the back of my mind all night. I kept the internet page up on the computer and kept looking at it. The rash did not change much before bed. We made him sleep in our 2-year-old daughter's bed in our bedroom so that I could keep an eye on him during the night. I woke him up frequently and asked him how he was doing. At one point around 11:00 or so, he said that he was feeling a little better. But at 4:00 he woke up throwing up badly. My husband and I got up and got him cleaned up. He decided that he wanted to sleep in the recliner in the living room as he felt he should not lay down. I fell asleep and did not get up again until 7:00 on April 6. I went out to check on Tyler. He said he had thrown up more. I asked him if he was alright and would make it another hour as we would go to the doctor office early. He told me he was okay. I went to take my shower. When I got out of the shower, I heard my 18-year-old daughter, Erica, yelling at Tyler. I came out at 7:20 to see what was going on. Tyler was delirious. He did not know anything, who he was, where he was, anything. Looking at the rash then, it had spread all over and was exactly like the rash on the internet. My husband immediately got the truck out and we took him to the emergency room. My daughter was crying because she said Tyler just had a blank look on his face as we drove away.
Once we got to the emergency room at 7:30, we told Doyle (a friend and ER nurse) that we suspected Tyler had meningitis. They were all so familiar with the treatment and everything since the boy 3 weeks prior had the same thing at the same hospital ER. Everything moved so fast. Our family physician was already at the hospital doing rounds and came very quickly. They started Tyler on Rocephin IV as soon as they got his vitals (his temp was 104.6) and evaluation done. They did blood work and lumbar puncture about 20-25 minutes after arriving there. As soon as we saw the spinal fluid, everyone in there new the cause, he definitely had bacterial meningitis. We found out later that a normal spinal fluid has 5 white blood cells and Tyler's spinal fluid had 13,800 white blood cells. They had given him versed to relax him as he was getting really agitated. The doctor took us to the quiet room to let us know everything, good and bad. He apologized to not seeing him the day before. He said that Tyler does have bacterial meningitis and that they were life fighting him to the hospital 60 miles away. He told us all the bad things that can come from this disease. My husband immediately had a breakdown and left. I have never seen him cry the way he did that day. I went back in to check on Tyler. I told the nurse that we were going to go get our other kids and leave right away for Sioux City. We had our cell phone in case they needed us.
We came home and got our things together. My husband was a mess by now. I made him call his parents and he told him mom to call the other family members. We were then off. I decided to call our pastor and let him know what was going on. We forgot to tell him what hospital we were going to, so he went to our hospital to find out and he was there with Tyler until he got on the helicopter. Erica then called my sister-in-law and had her get a hold of my brother. He works in the city where Tyler was going. He was at the hospital when Tyler got there. Once we were there, we had to wait in the ER waiting room while all of the assessment were done. The flight nurse came to talk to us and told us that they put him on a ventilator as they wanted to protect his airway. His condition had deteriorated after we left our hospital, but his vitals all remained okay. He was taken to the ICU where only my husband and I could see him with gowns, gloves, and masks on. He was still running a fever and was looking swelled up. They told us that it was just a waiting game now and that we needed prayers. I work for a national transcription company and so I got a hold of my supervisor. She put out a message for prayers. My husband's family is large and our town is so caring. By the end of the day we had many many people praying and Tyler was on many many church prayer lists. His vitals were up and down during the night. Mike stayed at the hospital with him as he was not going to leave. I had to go home as Rylee was still on antibiotics and we have 2 dogs to take care of.
The next day all the doctors talked to us and said that later in the day since his vitals had stayed relatively good, they were going to try to take him off the ventilator. They started this process about 2:00 in the afternoon. As they took him off, we were to talk to him, not knowing if there was any brain damage or anything else. As he woke up from the sedation, he moved his toes for us and started to cry. That was a good feeling for us. Then as they took him off the ventilator, they had us leave. We went to eat dinner in the hospital. On our way to the cafeteria, my son Austin commented that it looked like Carlson's car (a friend from Cherokee) in the parking lot. I said that I doubt it. While eating we got a phone call from Mike's sister. She said that she heard in town that one of the Carlson boys was brought to Sioux City with meningitis also. After investigating, we found out that another boy from the same high school was brought in with same thing as Tyler. He was brought to the ICU in the room next to Tyler. This made everyone in our town, schools, us included panic, not knowing how many would actually get this awful disease. Tyler was successfully taken off the ventilator. He was very scared and not wanting to be alone now that he was awake. When he found out that he had meningitis, he asked me, "Am I going to die like Jake." I said I think we are winning, but we have a long road ahead of us. He stayed 3 days in the intensive care and was then moved to pediatrics where he stayed for 2 more days. They ran a lot of tests on both boys and Hunter's was confirmed meningococcal type C. Tyler's was doctor confirmed by symptoms and lumbar puncture, but the cultures never grew anything. The infectious disease doctor said that we may have treated him early enough in the ER before the cultures were done that nothing ever grew. Tyler and Hunter were both dismissed after 5 days with PICC lines in and we did IV therapy at home. The weekend after getting home, Tyler developed an allergic rash and we went back to the ER. They discontinued his antibiotic therapy. This worried me as to if he had enough days as they were stopping it 10 days before planned.
Tyler started having little attacks where he said he feels like his throat is swelling up and it is hard to swallow. We have gone to the ER twice for that. They put him on Zoloft, which does not take effect immediately, for the panic attacks and stress that he is having. That in turn caused insomnia and Tyler did not sleep for 4 nights a week into this and ended up with a severe migraine. Tyler remembers nothing about any of the things that took place that day, but he understands that he almost died. Three weeks after Tyler and Hunter's cases, a little 2-year-old 28 miles away died and in that same town a 21-year-old was taken to the same hospital where the boys were treated. It is just so scary.
Tyler is still not back to school full days and is really having a hard time getting back into school. He has 3 weeks of school left this year and will be getting a tutor to help him finish up. We are just worried about the long term affects. He has mood swings, headaches, some numbness in his foot, trouble concentrating, panic/anxiety attacks, and does not want to be alone. All of these things we can learn to deal with it is just a change for all of us, but we are so lucky that he is alive. We will always say that Jake saved Tyler and Hunter's lives. He is our HERO as they would not have been treated as fast as they were if he had not just came in 3 weeks prior with the same thing. I was also glad to find this website to find out information and read others stories. This is one of those things that you feel so alone about with so many unanswered questions. Thanks.
Mike, Pam, Erica, Tyler, Austin, and Rylee Bezoni
" The best thing about life is that it comes one day at a time."