Jan 3, 1987 - Jan 29, 2009
Our daughter Jessica was a petite fun loving, daredevil. She could keep up with the boys in any sport going, yet still dress up and go to the ball as the beautiful princess. She loved life, family and friends were her top priorities, she couldn't wait to start a career and a family (she was ready to tackle both at once). She played the flute beautifully and could stop a mean puck while laughing at the shooter.
Jessica was in her 3rd year of college, a medical laboratory student at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. Her dream was to find a cure for Clostridium Difficile and then move on to other cures for various diseases. She had C-dif when she was 17; a disease which I believe compromised her immune system. She had thyroiditis attacks her first year of college starting every 6 weeks and which were worse and longer lasting each time until her thyroid finally stopped and she was able to go on thyroid medication.
She called me around 11 pm on Tues night, Jan. 27, 2009, saying she couldn't keep anything down. She would keep hanging up to go get sick, and she said her abdomen hurt real badly. She told me she had gone to bed early instead of hanging out with friends because she was tired and draggy. After a few phone calls of her hanging up, I suggested she get to the emergency room because she could have food poisoning or it could be her appendix. She said she would probably do that. I went to sleep knowing she was going to go get help. In the morning I tried to call her and got no answer, I started to get worried after trying several times and she didn't answer. I actually posted on facebook, that no joke, if anyone knew where Jessica was to please let me know. I finally got a phone call from her saying she was in the hospital, again she had to make it short because she wasn't supposed to be on the phone. I went to work, keeping my cell phone close. She called saying they were doing blood tests, etc. They weren't entirely sure what her issue was but because of the pain in her abdomen and fever, they decided to keep her overnight in case they had to operate to take her appendix out.
Normally, I would have been in the vehicle already making the 5 hour trip to Kingston, however, that day was one of the worst storms of the year. I drive in snow storms, but this was a blizzard. Jessica kept insisting, she knew me well, I not drive because she didn't want to worry about me with the weather conditions. My husband even looked up trains on the internet, saying he could take me to London, I was always the one to drop everything and go, but this day I was different (Mother's intuition?), I insisted on waiting until later when it cleared a bit and both my husband & I could go together. We left about 4 o'clock that evening, it was a long slow drive, normally 4 &½ to 5 hours, we made it in 7. We arrived at the hospital emergency to find she had been taken up to a room for the night. We were told to come back in the morning as visiting hours were over, we told them we had just driven 7 hours, we would like the chance to see our daughter. They called up to the floor she was on and they said by all means to come up and see her.
She was running a very high fever and had a hard time staying coherent. We were able to say hi we're here, gave her kisses, fed her some ice chips. She said she had something on her arm, I laughingly told her, that it was her IV. I think she tried to tell me about a bruising or rash she had (I found out about this later) but she kept passing out. We told her to get some sleep we would see her in the morning.
We were awakened around 6 in the morning with a phone call asking us to come to the hospital, Jessica had deteriorated overnight. We got ready quickly, wondering what they had meant by that. It sounded ominous, but didn't make sense, as far as we were concerned, she just needed surgery to get her appendix out. We couldn't have been more wrong! We went to her floor, but couldn't see her right away, we had no idea if she was awake, or what. The other person in the waiting room happened to be her hospital room mate, who heard us talking to each other and let us know that it was Jessica who asked the nurse to call us. She informed us that after we left Jessica had been sick off & on all night. When the doctors came in the morning and knew something was seriously wrong it had been Jessica who insisted they call us. The doctor came in shortly to inform us, that she had a rash all over her body and that they were moving her to the ICU, we would be able to see her down there. By the time we got downstairs, we could hear her crying with pain and saying ouch a lot as they were putting tubes in her, she was panicking knowing something was seriously wrong. Because of the small room and the amount of people working on her we couldn't go in until they got her stabilized. We never got to speak with her again! She was in a coma. They worked on her all day, called in retired professionals, who came in to assist,they tried every type of treatment available, but to no avail.
During this interim Cathy a wonderful social worker, helped us phone our other children and have them start the journey to Kingston. Our 2 youngest with my sister and brother-in-law made it in time just to say their goodbyes with us. Our daughter from out west didn't get in to Toronto on time, some family and very close friends met her at the airport.
In less than 48 hours after a phone call telling me she was sick, our daughter was gone.
I don't know if Jessica had the meningococcal immunization shot or not. Our two youngest have definitely had it now.
It has been over 2 yrs since our daughter passed away but it still feels like yesterday. Some of Jessica's friends held a memorial bash (dance) in Watford, on January 2011, with the proceeds going to the Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada. It was a huge success, her friends from Kingston also made the trip down. Her friends did a wonderful job of keeping her dream, of helping others, alive. I hope we can make this an annual event, not only by supporting the Foundation monetarily, but by also keeping people informed that this terrible disease, when . it strikes, strikes fast, and that knowledge can help prevent other sudden and fatal illnesses.
Thank you for letting us share our story. If you have any questions or if you just want to talk or have someone listen without judging you or telling you it is time to move on, please feel free to contact me.