Lauren

Survivor of meningococcal disease | Nebraska

My life took a drastic change the summer before my senior year in high school when a group of students and I went on a trip to Spain in June 2002. I was nearing my 17th birthday and looking forward to coming home to see my family after the long three weeks I had spent overseas. Towards the last few days of our trip many of the students including me started to feel ill. We all just thought it was the culture shock of drinking warm milk and eating uncooked meats. We were all eager to get home and eat the food that we were all used to and eager to spend the night in our own warm beds.

June 22, 2002: This would be the day that I would never forget. Approximately two days after we arrived in the States I woke up around 4:00 am my parent’s house with severe pain in my abdomen. It was painful enough that I yelled for my mother. At the time the both of us just thought it was “the bug” that I had picked up from Spain. After popping a few aspirins and Pepto Bismol I fell back asleep until about 8:00 am when my mother woke me up to let me know that she needed to run into town to attend a teaching seminar. She notified me that she would be back in a few hours and if I needed anything to call her and she would be right home. A few hours later my mother came home and found me sweating and unable to move in my bed. Within the two hours my entire body went numb and was in a paralyzed state. To this day, I feel that an Angel carried me from my second story bedroom to my mothers car. From this moment on, I have a huge gap in my story. Little did I know I was going to be blind for the next 72 hours. I was rushed to Seward Medical Hospital in Seward, Nebraska (my hometown) and some hours later I was being life flighted to Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska where I spend the next 2 weeks fighting for my life. I had lost all recollection of what had happened during my first few days in Omaha. I am so grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff at the Seward Family Medical Center who were able to realize I needed care beyond what they could provide as well as the doctors, nurses and staff at Children’s Hospital for diagnosing me with Bacterial and Viral Meningitis. The bacteria in my body had spread into my brain causing much swelling and also had gotten into my blood. I had type C neisseria meningitides.

Recovery: After being in the hospital for so long and having such a severe case of Meningitis I lost all feeling in my legs. I attended physical therapy regularly for years to learn how to walk as I did before this happened to me. I went back to my senior year but not with a full load of classes. Towards the second semester I was able to walk and attend classes with my friends. I am going to celebrate my 6th year anniversary this year and I am so lucky to be here. If it was not for the heroic efforts of the StarCare team and the rapid medical treatment I would not be here today.

Side Effects: I currently live with hypertension in all of my joints and suffer from rheumatoid arthritis in my knees. I was fortunate enough to get all of my vision back in both of my eyes and did not need to amputate any of my limbs. Due to the medicine I was given in the hospital I suffered loss of feelings in two of my fingers on my right hand. During my stay in Omaha my fingers turned blue and were almost amputated. During the winter months, my pointer and ring finger become stiff and difficult to move. I am unable to engage in running or sprinting due to the increased swelling of my joints. All of these are so minor to what many individuals encounter after having Meningitis. I truly have an Angel looking out for me and I am blessed every day that I am here. My hopes are that someday I can be directly involved in an organization such as yours to help educate how important the Meningitis vaccine is. I also want to become more educated on Meningitis as well. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. Please let me know what I can do! Thanks and God Bless!!


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