I contracted bacterial meningitis at age 11 (October, 1996). I was at an early Halloween party at a friend's house and I wasn't feeling well at all. I remember sitting on the swing in my witch costume feeling dizzy, weak and nauseous. A day or so later (not sure exactly how much time passed) I began feeling even worse than before, I remember laying on the couch in the living room with my pants undone because my stomach hurt so badly, I was in a cold sweat, had a headache, the works.
Someone came into the room and I said "Excuse my unzipped pants" which now seems like a weird thing to say, but it gets worse and the pants comment ends up being the last thing I remember for a few days. Once I went into this unconscious state, I apparently got up off the couch and went to the kitchen and said repeatedly to my mother "Hiiiiii" in a spaced out manner and then fell on the floor. It was at that time my mother knew something was wrong. I then tried to get into my baby brother's playpen to use the bathroom and a number of other things I have been told over time that I don't remember either.
My mother called my aunt who is a nurse because she knew something had to be wrong, whereas my dad was anxious to leave and go to a friend's for supper because really no one knew the seriousness of the situation, luckily mom thought it would be best to check with my aunt first. When my aunt Cynthia arrived, she took one look at me and said "We have to get this girl to the hospital!"
When I got there they apparently took a spinal tap, which is typical in such cases to see if the fluid was cloudy I believe, and it was. An ambulance was getting ready to rush me to a children's hospital an hour away, I began to vomit quite violently a dark liquid and the doctor on-call at my local hospital decided to put some sort of medicine in me before the trip to the children's hospital, we now know that had he not done that, I would have died.
Arriving at the hospital I was placed in ICU, I'm not sure for how many days, as I was out of it for a few of them, my total hospital stay was 10 days, some in ICU, some elsewhere. I don't know the details of my stay as I was so young, but all I know is that over those 10 days a lot of medication went into my body and I came out completely normal, 20lbs lighter for a short time, but normal.
I was able to return to school after weeks of recovery. Now, at 23, I think about this experience from time to time and realize how lucky I was and that there are MANY who don't survive this illness. I feel like coming out on the other side of this thing without any long term effects teaches one to live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted.
Heidi Hebb, 23