Carolyn Berger  

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It is almost the one year anniversary of  being
diagnosed with bacterial pneumococcal meningitis . I am
a 41 year old housewife, and mother of 2.

Here's my story...

In late February of 2002, I came down with a cold. Nothing serious,
just a run of the mill cold. However, living in Michigan, with all
the cold weather, I couldn't shake it. The cold lingered on for a
couple of weeks and I believe it weakened my immune system. On March
8, I developed a very painful ear infection in my right ear. I wasn't
able to go to the doctor's for an antibiotic that day, because my
son's Cub Scouts annual Blue and Gold Awards Banquet was that night
and I had to get ready for it. We went to the banquet that night, and
I was miserable from the ear infection. After we got home, my husband
went on to work (he works midnights). I went to bed, and as soon as I
did, the infection burst in my ear and started draining. I stayed up
all night, with my head held to the right side to help the draining.
I finally fell asleep about 4 am. Since it was a Saturday, I could
sleep in.

When I awoke about 10, I felt pretty good. The pain and pressure were
gone from my ear. I took a shower, and did some housework, then
played on the computer for a while. About 12:30, I started to feel
funny. Not exactly sick, just odd. I told my husband that I was going
to lay back down. I went to bed about 1pm. When I woke at 2:30, I had
a bad headache. I cursed my luck at getting a migraine after the ear
infection, but took 2 Tylenol and drank some sweet iced tea, my cure
for migraine. This time, it didn't work. An hour later, the pain in
my head was much worse. I took 2 more pain relievers, but they still
didn't help, and the pain continued to get worse by the minute.
About 5 pm, I called my husband to the bedroom and told him something
was seriously wrong. We agreed that I would go to the hospital. He
stayed home with the boys, and my mom drove me to the local hospital.

By the time I reached the hospital I was running a fever. It took
about 45 minutes to be called back to be examined. By that time, I
couldn't move my neck, had to hold my head every time I needed to
move it, and was running a 103 temp.

The doctor came in to examine me, listened carefully to my symptoms,
did a simple test of pulling my head down so that my chin touched my
chest. When I cried out from the pain, he sent me to the ER (I was in
the urgent care clinic). They did a lumbar puncture right away, and
the fluid came out very cloudy. I was informed that they wouldn't
know for sure till they had a culture, but they were going to treat
me for meningitis. I was put in isolation and started on an IV drip
of Vancomycin and Toradal. After the culture came back positive for
pneumococcal meningitis, I was transferred to an isolation room on
the terminally ill ward.

I was kept in the hospital for 10 days. The first 2 days, I was kept
on a saline drip because I had been vomiting and refused to eat or
drink. By the 3rd day, my parents came in and bullied me into eating
some Jell-O and broth. My mom had to spoon feed me because it was too
painful to sit up. I was still receiving Toradol for the pain, with
demurral shots every 4 hours to supplement. I was being treated by a
battery of doctors. The head of ER, a neurologist and an infectious
diseases specialists were working together on my case.

By day 4, the pain had lessened enough that I could sit up for 5
minutes. I finally had an appetite and ate dinner.

Day 6 saw a great improvement. I was able to walk around my room,
take a shower and shave my legs. However, it was at this time that
the nurses noticed what looked like burns erupting on my arm. It
turned out that the IV drip had popped out of my vein and was pumping
Vancomycin into the muscle tissue. Vancomycin is caustic and it
caused some necrosis of the tissue. That was corrected quickly. I
only have some scars on my arm from that.

On day 7, I asked the ER doc when I could be released, because I
needed to get home and take care of my children. He actually yelled
at me for asking, telling me I had come close to dying, and I would
have to park my behind for another 3 days.

Day 10 finally arrived. The IVs were taken out. I took a shower, and
packed my stuff up to come home. I was released about 7 pm, the same
time I had been admitted.

I spent the next couple of weeks recovering and taking it easy. I saw
the neurologist for a follow up visit, and he told me no further
treatment would be necessary. My thoughts were clear, and my speech
concise. I still had pain in my jaw for several months, recurring ear
infections, tinnitus, a temporary hearing loss in my right ear,
dizziness and short-term memory problems, but I was alive! I had been
so very blessed, and I was still here to take care of my babies!

As the one year anniversary approaches, the only problem I have left
is the short-term memory glitches.

I feel that I have truly been blessed, and the angels were watching
over me, urging me to go to the hospital, even though I felt silly
going there for just a headache.

Carolyn

 

... It' all right here comes the Sun.

 


  

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