Julio Antonio RodrŪguez
Photo to Come
MY STORY AS A SURVIVOR OF RECURRENT MENINGITIS
My name is Julio Antonio RodrŪguez. I live in Panama City, Republic of Panama. I am a survivor of meningitis. I would like to share my story and experience with other survivors and many people with a relative who has suffered this terrible disease.
Believe it or not I have suffered this disease 7 times. It has been a recurrent meningitis in which every episode has been a little bit different from the previous ones.
Everything began in 1975 when I was just 11 years old. I got sick, was rushed to a hospital and doctors said I had meningitis. I donít remember the kind of meningitis I was diagnosed by then. But I do recall what I felt was terrible. I had to quit school for some time that year. Thanks God I was able to recover from that crisis. Nevertheless, that very year I became ill with the same problem again. The diagnose was meningitis for the second time. I donít recall much about those two crisis, maybe because I was only 11. I remember the terrible headache, too much vomiting, fever, too much pain in my legs and spinal cord. Thanks God I was able to recover, but I began feeling headaches frequently after I was discharged from hospital. Little by little I recovered and went back to school. When I was beginning my seventh grade, suddenly I got sick. I recall I began feeling a horrible, terrible headache, pain in my legs, vomiting, fever. I was taken to a hospital and the diagnosed was meningitis for the third time. I donít know how long I stayed in the Intensive Care Unit, maybe a week. I stayed in the hospital for around a month. This third time some physicians began tyring to find an explanation to my problem. After I left the ICU, they conducted several examinations. They thought that my tonsils could be a source of infections and that could be bringing about this recurrent meningitis. Therefore, they decided to remove them. They did. After months of recovery, I was able to go back to school. I recall that at first it wasnít easy at all. I had headaches. But, after much perseverance, I could go ahead and completed High School. Certainly, I didnít complete it when I was supposed to. The third episode was in 1977. After this third episode I didnít suffered this disease during some years. When I was beginning college education in 1985, I suffered the fourth episode. This was more serious than the other ones because this time I was not only diagnosed meningitis, but also encephalitis. I was unconscious; I donít know how long I stayed in this condition in the ICU. Once again, thanks God I was able to leave the ICU and began a recovery. This other time I began feeling like a ring in my ears after leaving the hospital. I was very weak. I couldnít continue college that year. When I was planning to go back to college in 1986, one day, suddenly I recall that I felt a terrible headache. I began vomiting a lot, my legs got very weak, numb, and all of a sudden, I couldnít see. Then my mother and other relatives take me to the nearest hospital. Later they told me that when they had seen me in that way they already knew what I had. The diagnose was meningitis for the fifth time. I spent some weeks in the ICU. All doctors were very confused. They tried to find an answer,an explanation to my problem, but they couldnít. I stayed in the hospital a little more than a month. Then they told me that they thought that I had a special kind of meningitis whose name is Mollaretís recurrent meningitis. It was the first time my family and I heard about this. I was very depressed because I couldnít understand anything. After this fifth episode I felt very, very weak. I had problems to be standing, to walk, I began having troubles when I tried to stay too much under the sun because I felt that at once I had a headache. After I left the ICU I could see and at present I can see. After months of convalescene and physical therapy to strengthen my legs I was able to go back to college. I completed college in 1997. I tried not to think about this terrible experience anymore. However, there were times that whenever I felt a headache I thought everything was going to begin again. I recall once I was in downtown and began feeling a terrible headache. I rushed home because suddenly I thought I was about to get sick with meningitis and I didnít want to get sick away from home. I began working and I never thought about this. But in 1994 when I was in my job I began feeling a terrible headache, began vomiting, began feeling much pain in my legs and spinal cord and there it was again. It was meningitis for the sixth time. I donít recall too much when I was in the ICU. I only recall the day I was discharged from hospital and began my recovery at home. By this time some physicians began thinking about the possibility that I had like a fistula somewhere in my brain and maybe it was causing this recurrent disease. If it was so, they said they didnít understand why I had been able to overcome this disease so many times. Some of them began saying that the only explanation was that God was with me. I recovered and went back to job. But next year, in 1995 I got sick again. This seventh episode was the worst one because in this one I was diagnosed septicemia. I was comatose for around 21 days in the Intensive Care Unit. I was placed in a respirator. After I overcame this crisis my doctors told me that they were sure I was going to die. Certainly after this seventh episode I was much weaker, I couldnít walk well, couldnít talk because the respirator affected my vocal cords. I had to take physical therapy for around five months. I was submitted to several Catscans but none of them revealed a fistula in my brain. As a result no physician in Panama has been able to find an explanation to this recurrent meningitis up to this moment. I can walk and speak. There are times when I still feel some headaches and like a ring in my ears, and a sort of pain in my left leg specially when Iím under too much stress. Many people, my family, my neighbors, my co-workers, relatives in and out of Panama, people in my parish, prayed for me specially in my seventh crisis of meningitis . If I am still here it is only because God wants me to stay here, it is His will. I still wonder why. After months of recovery I was able to go back to my job. After this seventh episode I havenít suffered another one. I try not to think about the possibility of another crisis. I have a normal life. I try not to spend too much time under the sun because I know it affects me a lot. There are times when I still feel headaches and a slight problem in my left leg. In January 2002 I found an American Meningitis Organization website and began reading many survivorsí stories. I didnít know there was a foundation in the United States of America. Since then I became interested in meeting people who are survivors of this terrible disease. If you have suffered this disease and you would like to share your experience with someone else, you can send me emails to firstname.lastname@example.org I was able to learn English because I like it. It wasnít easy at all. I know that I still have to learn more. My prayers for all those who have lost some relative or friend because of this disease.
Julio has had a set back.
I received this from him today.
Mrs. Milley: I'm writing you because I want to ask you your prayers for me at
this moment. I'm sick.
I have chicken pox. This is the first time I suffer this health problem. My doctor told me that it's more
dangerous when you suffer it during adulthood and because of my meningitis recurrent crisis in the past.
I was told I have to stay at home over 15 days. I have had much fever and headaches. Pray for me so I can
overcome this new problem. Thank you. Bye. Regards from Julio from Panama
Add A Prayer For Julio
My Dearest most precious Julio. We are praying. Keep your faith strong and know you are not alone. Frankie
Julio, I hope you are recovering well, you are in my thoughts
and prayers. My best friends husband had chicken pox a few years
back and he was really sick, but after about 2 weeks completely back
to normal. I pray that you stay safe from a relapse of meningitis and
that you will soon be well again. Love, Steph, Mum to Emily, and the
You will overcome this obstacle! You are a fighter and a true inspiration for life. May God place his hand of blessing on you once again. We are all here for you and pray that you recover quickly. Get Well fast and keep us posted if you can. My family all sends their love to you. May God continue to watch over you, God bless you.
Quartz Hill, CA. USA