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My name is Blake Schuchardt, and my story began in March of 2005 when I was 18 and a senior in high school. I was your average basketball playing teenage boy who only thought about sports and girls. I never really was very sick and when I did get sick, it was only a cold here or there.

So one day at school I started feeling like I was getting sick: stopped up nose, fever and weakness. I went home and decided to stay home the next day from school. Throughout the night I didn’t sleep very well. I kept tossing and turning and something just didn’t feel right. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was not really able to move my neck or turn my head without moving my entire body to do so.

I woke up around 10am and felt horrible. I figured if I took a hot bath maybe I would feel better, so I managed to make it to the bathroom and turn the water on in the tub, but I could barely stand up due to weakness. My feet hurt, but it’s hard to describe because I had never felt it before. I didn’t realize that my Dad had stayed home that day because he just knew something wasn’t right with me. He was downstairs in our basement when he heard me turn the water on in the tub. By that time I had barely made it back to my bed. I didn’t even have the energy to lie down; I just fell onto my bed like a bag of rocks.

My Dad came into my room and found me lying on my bed covered in purple blotches all over my body from head to toe. He decided to take me to the ER, but I wasn’t even able to dress myself so he put some clothes on me and took me to the car and raced to the hospital. There the doctor decided that I had a case of the flu and treated me for it. As I lay in the hospital bed, all of the purple blotches began to burn as if someone was burning me with cigarettes. That’s the best way I can describe it.

My family doctor was contacted and ordered me to the nearest major hospital. The ER doctor thought I was stable enough to be transported by car, so my Mom and Dad had to take me 2.5 hours to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. Once we arrived, the last thing I remember was sitting in a wheelchair asking my Dad if I could lie down. My Dad was standing behind me so I laid my head on his stomach.

The next thing I remember, I woke up a week later in a bed covered with lines and a breathing tube down my throat. I was so disoriented I was under the impression we were in the hospital for another family member. The following information is actually what my parents and family told me after the fact.

Once we arrived at the hospital that night I passed out and was taken to CCU where I was intubated. The nurses were unable to find my pulse and my blood pressure was nonexistent. The doctors told my family there was a 0% chance I would make it to the morning and to begin calling my family so they could come say their goodbyes. I surprised the doctors and made it a couple days in that condition until they finally gave me a 20% chance of making it.

I was started on dialysis, and a spinal tap was done confirming I had Bacterial Meningitis. My legs, feet, toes, hands and ears all turned black and the doctors were certain I would have to have them all amputated. I was in the hospital for 3 ½ weeks before I was stable enough to be released to my home. I managed to make it out of the hospital with all of my extremities intact. And those purple blotches now looked like 3rd degree burns all over my body. Over time I did have to have 3 tips of my toes amputated due to no blood flow. I started Physical therapy because I hadn’t walked in almost a month. It took several months before I could actually walk on my own. I was able to go to prom and even gave the opening prayer at my high school graduation.

I was on dialysis for a year and a half before I received a kidney transplant in October of 2006. I used all of this experience to make something of this life that someone was finished with yet. I attended college and obtained an Associate’s degree in science. Then I attended Nursing school where I received my Associate Degree in Registered Nursing. Now I am 26, married with a brand new baby girl (4 months old) and I currently work as a Home Therapies Dialysis Nurse teaching people how to do dialysis in their homes. I want to show those who are currently going through Meningitis or dialysis that their life is not over and they can do anything they put their minds to.


I always feel that when writing a story that it has to have a happy ending. I guess in life we realize as we get older that it becomes less and less the case.

My best friend of 10 years passed away on August 25th 2009 of Meningococcal meningitis. He was 26 years old at the time. He was active, healthy… had tons of friends and was surrounded by people who loved him.

Josh W. Herbold was my brother and my best friend. He went into the hospital on Sunday, April 23rd with severe flu-like symptoms. It seemed to take days for the doctors to finally diagnose it as meningitis and by the time they did it was too late to do anything about it. My last words from Josh were not spoken… the last time I got to see him with his eyes open was that Monday. I told him that we were not going anywhere and that there would always be someone there and he shook his head “no” – I can only imagine him thinking that he didn’t want anyone seeing him like that. A tear rolled down his cheek and it took everything I had to not cry in front of him. I didn’t want him to see the pain in my eyes. I didn’t want him to see me cry. You see, Josh saved my life so many times in so many ways while he was alive that I would have given anything in that very moment to save his.

The part that makes this all even more difficult to handle is that none of us really had a clue as to what exactly Meningococcal Meningitis was or is. We had all heard of Meningitis but this was a whole new ballpark. Even if we had known I guess it wouldn’t have made anything easier. We would have understood more of what was going on.

On August 25th 2009 a piece of me died that I will never get back. Meningococcal Meningitis took it from me. I am not upset with the doctors… the hospital… I am upset that we live in a world that something like this can happen and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. I think it is time I try.


My daughter, Natalie, died on December 1, 2009, at at 11. She had a low fever on Saturday so we gave her some Tylenol and she felt better. On Sunday, she started throwing up. She was nauseous all day and didn’t want to eat or drink. I didn’t think she looked good so on Monday morning I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for her. I thought if anything was really wrong, the doctor would know. She did not have a temperature at the doctor’s office and her only symptoms were not feeling well, throwing up and diarrhea. She did had a nose bleed on Saturday morning but she did have nosebleeds quite often and had been seen by a specialist for them. I’m not sure if it was a symptom or not. The doctor told us it was just an intestinal virus and she did give her some anti-nausea medicine. When we got home I gave her the medicine. The information said it would cause drowsiness and she slept for almost four hours. I kept going to check on her and wake her up a little each time. When she did wake up, she was able to eat popsicles and watched television with her younger sister. I thought we were on the right track. The next morning she woke up normally and went to the bathroom. She did throw up again and then passed out and had a siezure. I was so scared. I called the ambulance and during the ride to the ER; they said her blood pressure looked good but they couldn’t get an IV started. Even though I was scared, I thought that she was just dehydrated and once they started fluids, she would be OK. When we got the ER, it all went downhill. The seizures started getting worse and more frequent. She still didn’t have a temperature so they didn’t know what was wrong with her. They checked everything but never did a spinal. At that point her blood platelet count was so bad that they didn’t want to risk bleeding. They thought they had her stable and were taking her to ICU. They told us to wait in the lobby until she was settled and they would call us in. They next time we got to see her was when they were doing CPR on her. Her heart stopped and died at 2:07pm that afternoon. I never once thought of menengitis because she didn’t have a stiff neck. The coroner has still not give us the final report but they are saying she died of Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome caused by Neisseria Meningitidis. We are so hurt and sad from this loss that seemed to have come out of nowhere and remained so stealth. Everyone has been sick since school started. We never ever could have imagined that she would have something so deadly. We talked Monday night about watching a movie together on Tuesday. We talked Tuesday morning. She told me she didn’t want to die before the ambulance came. I didn’t want her to die either. Now I just want to die to be with her.