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Our beautiful 22 year old daughter Nicole was born in Cedar Rapids IA on August 1, 1981 and died May 10, 2004 from bacterial meningitis. College graduation & finals were drawing near and Nicki was fighting a cold. To relieve some stress, she went out with her friends on a Saturday night. Sunday morning she did not feel well and thus our nightmare began. Nicki called us the morning of Mother’s Day to say that she had a headache, sore throat, ached all over and had a temperature of 100.8°. We advised her to see a doctor but she felt it was the flu and just wanted to rest. Early evening, her boyfriend called to say that she was much worse and needed to go to the hospital. She fought us in our attempt to get her out of bed because her body ached – it hurt just to touch her. We noticed a purple spot about the size of a dime on her middle finger but she had no idea of its cause.

Nicki needed a wheelchair upon our hospital arrival. Her color was pale and her face carried a blank expression. Once in the examination room, Nicki could not lay still, she was in constant motion with pain, her breathing was labored, her feet were very cold and the purple spot on the tip of her finger now engulfed her entire finger.

The doctor suspected meningitis and wanted to do a spinal tap. The result of the tap was negative and the doctor feared it was bacterial meningitis that had possibly spread into her blood system and her chances of survival would be slim.

Our world fell apart. The doctor said that the next 24 hours would be the most critical and again stressed the dangers and fatality rate of the disease that had invaded her bloodstream so quickly. We noticed also that the purple rash had now spread to other areas of her body. We later learned that this rash (septicemia) is a result of the poison destroying her veins and the blood seeping out under the skin.

We were hanging on to dear life and it was slipping away rapidly. Nicki’s eyes were beginning to roll back into her head and she was not responding to our voice or touch. She took one big breath and then no more. They immediately began CPR. After several attempts of reviving Nicki, the doctor told us the disease was overpowering her heart and shutting down other organs as well. They eventually discontinued CPR and our precious daughter was gone just six hours after we had brought her in. She died within 15 hours of the onset of this relentless disease.

As with most other meningitis cases, we have no idea how she contracted it, but we suspect that since her immune system was weakened from her cold that she was more susceptible. The doctors told us not to blame ourselves for not seeking treatment earlier. Bacterial meningitis symptoms mimic the flu and she would probably have been sent home with some antibiotics. We were not aware that a vaccine was available to help prevent this. We can only hope that as time goes on and research and training improves, that doctors will readily promote the vaccine and be able to recognize and treat the disease immediately with positive results. No other child or family should suffer the effects of this fast-moving illness. If we had known about the vaccine, our daughter would be celebrating life today.

Many days have gone by and the empty hole in our heart will never mend. Please immunize your loved ones because there is no getting over the loss of a child.


I’m a mom to 16 year old Eric, who was diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis on March 20,2008. All the symptoms he was showing were the same as the FLU. On the night of March 19th he complained of a Headache and the chills. My husband gave him some Ibuprofen and told him to get some rest.

The next morning he was still complaining of a headache, so we decided he should stay home from school. We did all we could to relieve the pain and I decided to call Ask-A-Nurse, she stated that without seeing him she could not really tell what was wrong, it could be the flu but he should come in to be seen. After I hung up he started vomiting and had the diarrhea, the vomit was the brightest flourescent green that I have ever seen. Eric said he wanted to lie down for a while and we would talk about taking him later if he still felt bad.

Well about 1 hour later I was checking symptoms on WEBMD and I heard a thump and some noises. I got up to see what was going on and Eric was stumbling to me and it was obvious to me that he had no clue what was going on. He was not able to see or hear me and when I touched him he would scream an ear piercing scream, that is when I called 911. The dispatcher was unable to hear me above the screams, I tried to talk to her and tell her what was wrong, but she knew I needed help immediately. I got Eric to the Loveseat and that is when he went unconscious. I tried rubbing his chest and feet but no response, by then the ambulance crew were there and started oxygen and tried to get him to respond. We started off to the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in LaCrosse, Wisconsin a 40-45 minute drive. He was unconscious the whole ride until we got a few blocks from the E.R., and then he started screaming and kicking and he was uncontrollable.

They had security guards waiting for us to help hold him down from hurting himself or anyone else, He was only 140 LBS, but it took 7-8 Men to hold him down. In the E.R. they did a Spinal Tap and Cat Scan and that was when we got the news. Eric had Bacterial Meningitis and the prognosis was not good. They immediately started him on several different antibiotics and sent him to P.I.C.U., and we were told he probably would not make it through the night, because they stated that he was gravely ill. Well, he fought any and everything they tried to do — insertion of a breathing tube would was recommended, but he fought until we were all tired and the doctors said we will wait and put one in if needed. Well, it was a long night; he had several students stop by just to give us support and pray. My husband and I went to rest around 1a.m. and got up at 3a.m. to check and he was still out. At 3:50a.m. the nurse came in and said he was awake and we took off running. He was very groggy, but he was alive and talking.

All the praying and crying gave our boy back to us. The Doctors were so impressed by the rapid response, they had never seen someone come out of it so fast. They stated that they had never seen someone get sick so hard and fast and also come out of it so quickly, that we truly believe he is a MIRACLE. By the end of the day they moved him into his own room on regular floor, where he stayed for a week on I.V. antibiotics. He has made a full recovery, and has returned to school, driving and sports[his life]. We are so grateful for the quick action taken by the Medical Staff in finding what was trying to basically kill my 16 year old son. We will forever be grateful to them and all the Staff who took care of him. Please have your children vaccinated for Meningitis. I have 6 children and would not want anyone to go through what we had to go through.