My Daughter Jamie Misplaced Her Legs and Fingers in a Ferocious Battle Towards Meningitis

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As advised to Erica Rimlinger

My daughter Jamie was in her second yr on the College of Texas at Austin, dwelling in an off-campus house, when meningitis hit like a hurricane with no warning.

I used to be out of city when she all of a sudden felt like she was coming down with the flu and her signs had been getting worse rapidly. Jamie’s older sister — a senior at UT-Austin — occurred to name to ask for a trip to high school when Jamie advised her she thought she wanted to go to the hospital. The ladies known as me, and I stated, “Name forward, take your insurance coverage card and let me know the way it goes.” I used to be involved however not panicked. Their subsequent name modified that. “Come proper now,” my daughter advised me. “The medical doctors are saying, ‘Get your mother right here instantly.’”

Jamie’s physique was breaking out in deep-purple rashes. Medical personnel acknowledged this as an indication of meningococcal septicemia, which is brought on when the micro organism that trigger meningitis infect the bloodstream. Meningococcal septicemia poisons the blood, and in Jamie’s case, it minimize off circulation to her palms and ft.

I reached the hospital in hours and was shocked to seek out Jamie dazed and plugged into medical tools within the intensive care unit, her coronary heart racing at 120 beats per minute.

Since meningitis can kill inside hours, there was no time to attend. As quickly as meningitis was suspected, medical doctors began treating her with antibiotics. Along with a mortality charge of 10% to fifteen%, meningitis may cause lifelong, extreme disabilities in 20% of those that survive it. My life funneled right down to a singular focus: serving to my daughter survive.

When her analysis was confirmed, I questioned how this had occurred. I assumed Jamie had had all her vaccinations, nevertheless it seems the one for meningitis advisable at age 11 is meant to be adopted by a booster at age 16, however her pediatrician had deemed it “pointless.”

However, even when she’d had that booster, it will not have protected in opposition to one type of meningococcal illness: the B pressure. Faculty college students are significantly prone to meningitis B as a result of they dwell in shut quarters, and the illness can unfold simply by saliva and shut contact. In line with the Nationwide Meningitis Affiliation, meningitis B has been chargeable for 100% of meningitis outbreaks on faculty campuses.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends meningitis B vaccination for teenagers and younger adults between the ages of 16 and 23. However since this vaccine wasn’t accessible till 2014, most youngsters haven’t but acquired it. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of youngsters and younger adults aren’t vaccinated in opposition to this lethal, preventable illness. They’re solely partially protected.

Jamie’s limbs turned from purple to black. One good friend who came visiting thought she was carrying black socks. For weeks, I by no means left her aspect. As a result of meningitis is definitely transmissible, we needed to put on robes and masks after we had been in Jamie’s room.

She was finally flown from Austin to a facility in Houston, the place medical doctors would attempt to save her limbs. She acquired oxygen remedy day-after-day for 60 days. The remedies did save components of her limbs, however in the end her legs needed to be amputated under the knee and she or he misplaced her fingers on each palms.

Jamie and I spent seven months within the hospital in Houston. By the point Jamie was launched, she weighed 80 kilos. Although she regarded like a newly hatched chook and will barely raise her arms, she was smiling. She nonetheless celebrates the day she was launched, calling it her “new life day.” Her superb spirit and positivity carried her although. “I’m prepared to maneuver ahead,” she advised me. “I wish to transfer on with my life.”

As a household unit, we pulled collectively and offered love — generally even powerful love — for Jamie. I advised her, “You’re going again to high school,” and her faculty accommodated her with on-line lessons.

When she graduated along with her diploma in well being and human providers, the college president spoke about her in his speech. Jamie is married now. She drives, she works, she advocates, and she or he turned the one bilateral amputee to compete in long-distance biking within the 2012 London Paralympics. I’m hoping she and her husband will give me some grandbabies quickly, however Jamie says they’re having an excessive amount of enjoyable.

Jamie in the 2012 London Paralympics

There are nonetheless struggles, after all. Prosthetics aren’t all the time simple to suit or pain-free. Jamie will want extra surgical procedure quickly as a result of her leg bone is rising, and it’s inflicting her a number of ache.

However this vacation season, I look again on the Hanukkah we spent within the hospital in Houston to the one we’re celebrating this yr with our rising household, and I’m so grateful for all of the relations in our robust and loving help crew — and for Jamie’s miraculous restoration.

No little one, no mom, no household ought to should expertise what Jamie endured. In 2008, we had no protection as meningitis ravaged my daughter and took her limbs — however at this time, individuals do. I would like all dad and mom to know they may also help stop this brutal, usually deadly illness. There are secure and efficient vaccinations available to assist shield in opposition to 5 teams of meningitis — one for meningitis A,C,W,Y and a separate one for meningitis B. I encourage all dad and mom to get their youngsters vaccinated. If it’s your little one who will get the illness, does it matter if it’s uncommon?

This useful resource was created with help from GSK.

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