My name is Nicole Pederson, and my son is Ryan Pederson, who is now a spirited 2 year old, but not without a very long list of complications and deficiencies as a result of Pneumococcal Meningitis. I feel compelled to share my story as we are in the midst of the one-year anniversary of Ryan´s illness and it´s proving to be a very emotional time.
Ryan is the youngest of 3 children, so when fevers and vomiting erupt; I´m not one to overreact.
The afternoon of May 26, 2003, Ryan awoke from his afternoon nap with a relatively high-grade fever and moderate lethargy. All he wanted to do was sitting in my lap and was very irritable and clingy. I wrote it off as teething, gave him some Tylenol and he perked up and bit. The fever continued to elevate once doses of Tylenol wore off and vomiting started that evening. At this point I thought it might be stomach flu, so I started him on Pedialyte and alternated doses of Tylenol and Advil to control the fever. All through that night the vomiting continued and by the next morning, the fever was no longer controlled with doses of either Tylenol or Advil.
I took him to the emergency department at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga. This was at the height of the SARS epidemic, so immediately we were gowned and masked and tucked away in a closed off room until they could determine the cause of this unexplained fever. Ryan was very dehydrated by this point, so they tried to re-hydrate him orally, and although everything stayed down for almost 1 hour, it eventually came right back up again. The doctor who saw Ryan also felt that perhaps Ryan might have been pulling to breathe a bit; so he ordered x-rays...they confirmed the presence of some mild Pneumonia. Between needing to be re-hydrated and obviously requiring antibiotics for the Pneumonia, they started Ryan on an IV down in emerg...but there didn´t seem to be closure with their diagnosis and they were being somewhat evasive when I asked questions. He was admitted at that point, and a mere 6 hours later I was told that Ryan´s blood cultured the Strep Pneumonia bacteria in a time frame that should have been no less than 48 hours...it was incredibly aggressive and they were surprised that Ryan was doing as well as he was at that point. Although they hadn´t done a spinal tap at that point, because of the aggression of the bug, they were starting him on meningical doses of antibiotics and were quite certain it was full-blown meningitis. My head started to spin and I thought I was going to lose my son...I knew nothing of meningitis except that it kills.
The next 48 hours I didn´t leave Ryan´s side, only to watch him deteriorate into a grey, lifeless, unresponsive baby...I was on autopilot.
On May 31, 2003, Ryan was transferred to The Hospital for Sick Children in downtown Toronto as his platelet count had dropped dangerously low and they felt he may need a platelet transfusion, however, he began to respond to the antibiotics and they felt that the infection may have been caught in a safe enough time frame that the 14 day IV treatment would work. Nope.
On the morning of June 9, 2003 (day 11 of treatment), I awoke to Ryan in the midst of a tonic clonic seizure. They immediately called a code Blue and a mass of nurses, doctors and technicians came rushing in. They had to control the seizure with Dylantin and as a result he needed to be intubated. He spent the next 3 days on a respirator in the Critical Care Unit and a CT Scan confirmed an increase in the size of his ventricles.
Once back on the unit, he developed sunsetting, lethargy and vomiting...another CT was done confirming a further increase in his ventricle size, ultimately resulting in the placement of a VP Shunt. During this time, it was also discovered that Ryan had developed sinus venous thrombosis (obstructive blood clot in the venous system of his brain) and had suffered a small stroke.
Ryan spent the next 7 weeks at Sick Kids on high doses of Vancomycin and Ceftriaxone to combat the strep bug that didn´t want to go away and continued to fight back, Phenobarbitol for the seizures as a result of the increased pressure on his brain and Enoxaparin, a low molecular weight heparin for the blood clot. He also suffered from cortical blindness.
Upon discharge from Sick Kids, Ryan was admitted to Bloorview MacMillan Children´s centre where he spent the next 3 months receiving intensive rehabilitation, during which time he suffered a second invasive infection, resulting in a two week hospital admission back to Sick Kids for the treatment of pneumococcal bacteraemia and the introduction to the Immunology department.
He is now on outpatient service through ErinOak here in Mississauga, Ontario, receiving physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology. He has severely profound hearing loss in one ear and we´ve recently discovered that he is also osteoporotic, which they think might be a result of the medications he received during his long hospital stay. He continues to be followed by the Neurology, Neurosurgery, Immunology, Endocrinology, Stroke and Thrombosis teams at Sick Kids. His sight has returned and he has just begun to walk for the first time.
I didn´t vaccinate my first two children with the Prevnar, and therefore didn´t feel the need to vaccinate my son. Although there are no guarantees with vaccines, I would urge anyone and everyone to vaccinate with the Prevnar. We almost lost Ryan more than once during his terrible ordeal, and although we were very lucky with the care that Ryan received, he will not come out of this unscathed...there is still so much to learn and experience as each developmental milestone is met and delays are discovered.
Through it all, he continues to smile and charm everyone he meets. We couldn´t ask for more.
Thank you for allowing me to share.