Nicole

Lost her brother, Michael, age 19

Michael was 19 and a senior in high school when he contracted meningococcal disease. He was battling a bit of a cold for a few weeks, nothing serious. Unlike most guys, he was pretty stoic about being sick. He’d just take medicine and go about his day. He was an exceptionally hard worker for a teenager, and he prided himself in his work. He was taking Japanese classes at a local community college, and he had a trip planned to go to Japan over the summer. He worked as an usher in movie theater. He went on a hike the day before he died. He was a healthy, active young man.

On April 1, 2005 my parents got a phone call from the school nurse saying that Michael had the flu. He went home and laid on the couch for a few hours. He said his head hurt, but it was not unusual for Mikey to get migraines, so they thought little of it.

As the evening progressed, Michael’s condition worsened. My parents took him to the emergency room. He was still presenting flu-like symptoms with a splitting headache, but something about it just didn’t seem right. He’d had the flu before, and he’d had migraines before, but never like this.

After a long wait in the emergency room, they finally saw him. They couldn’t find anything wrong except that they couldn’t register a temperature on him. They were preparing to discharge him when things became much worse. He blacked out. They tried to do a spinal tap, but he needed help so they gave it up and just worked on him. They worked on him for well over an hour. A medical helicopter was on the way to take him to a hospital with better facilities. He was gone before it got there. He died of sepsis early in the morning on April 2, 2005.

I still have nightmares about the flight from D.C. (where I was living) to Ohio, and then seeing my parents, the horror, the grief, the surreal way it all felt, until I laid eyes on his lifeless body. I can still feel the scream in my throat, seeing my brother there in a box…it was right after April Fools day, and we had always had such a fun time playing pranks on each other. I just kept sobbing…”its not funny Mikey, its not funny…”

It makes me so angry to think that it could have been prevented by something as simple as a stick in the arm.


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