Today is World Meningitis Day, and the start of World Immunization Week. Are you young and healthy? Stay that way! It’s Your Choice, so choose to get immunized and get on with what life has in store for you.
Abby Blanco-Wold was a young woman on her way to the Army when she was attacked by meningitis. This is Abby’s story, as written by her.
TWO DAYS TO GO
Two days to go, and I would have been gone, off to the ARMY . . . Tuesday at dawn.
Out to the gun range my dad and I went, I did really well, to our amazement!
I wanted to shoot a gun once before basic training, the old men that were there found it quite entertaining.
I had this slight headache throughout the day—didn’t recognize the faint scent of death’s bouquet.
Later that night, out with friends one last time, I threw up by a building, but then I felt fine.
We went home anyway, but stopped for a treat. I didn’t even feel bad enough not to eat.
I awoke in the night, throwing up once again . . . except this time throwing up took forever to end.
So I went back to sleep, but when I arose, intense pain was all over, from my head to my toes.
We need to go now, something’s not right. Upon changing my shirt, came the real fright.
Fever, throwing up, aches and pains, purple spots. The familiarity is chilling. Meningitis, I thought!
To the hospital my friends and I immediately rushed. Oh my God, if it’s true, my family’s going to be crushed!
Meningitis it was, but I already knew. I deteriorate quickly—my feet are both blue.
My parents arrive, “Mom, I have to go pee,” but not a drop would come from my failing kidneys.
I said to the doctor, “I know I might die, but can I have some pain medicine so I don’t have to cry?”
So, here I am in this bed instead, more worried about being AWOL than being dead.
In a war against nature, my body will try to fight off these enemies, so that I don’t die.
In this ICU, my family will weep, counting the moments that I am asleep.
Many of my doctors will quickly be stunned, watching my body grow increasingly rotund.
One by one my organs start to shut down; my urine is now coming out blackish- brown.
Covered all over in dark purple spots, as my vessels are littered with millions of clots.
Soon I can no longer breathe on my own, and more IVs into my body are sewn.
A ventilator’s my new buddy, I guess. How much longer can my body handle this stress?
This struggle is one that I simply must win, but things are so bad, more family flies in.
My priest comes to the hospital to say a prayer. My parents and brother are so numb they just stare.
He gives me just one last sacrament, as my body revolts, to my detriment.
Are they right, my last rites? Will tonight be my forever goodnight?
Suddenly, my blood pressure drops so low and so fast, my heart almost stops.
I am so, so very tired of this fighting, but I won’t give up—sorry that it’s so frightening.
Today, things aren’t good, the attending can’t lie, twenty percent chance to live, and that’s high.
Both my insides and outsides are going crazy. Now I’m in a coma, and my adrenals are lazy.
My prognosis looks so terribly bleak. How strong will my family be? Or how weak?
Am I allowed to die? Will you all fall apart? Will you succumb to the pain of your breaking hearts?
A few days later, it comes, a faint beacon of light. Can a miracle save me from this morbid plight?
Slowly but surely from the ventilator I’m withdrawn, and most of my organs start to turn back on!
I lay in this bed, comatose still. Reality sets in, but survive, yes I will!
I hesitantly, emerge from my sleep to hallucinations, pain, a machine’s constant beep.
I wonder, what could have happened to me? I was out for two weeks—how could that be?
I’m hurriedly transported to a new room, but I cannot sit up or hold on to a spoon.
Surrounded by so many balloons, gifts, and flowers, and cards that I read for hours and hours.
Everyone is here rejoicing my life, while knowing my future holds plenty of strife.
Just lying here the pain is so bad, it seems unbearable for my mom and my dad.
My body’s covered with open wounds that need care. An open bed in pediatrics? I’ll be right there.
My first ambulance ride reveals my yellow streak, and I need lots of help, because I’m so weak.
In my new room, tons of doctors I meet, their topic of interest—my gangrenous feet.
I finally see them completely unwrapped, “please be careful, and don’t touch them,” I snapped.
After surgery I’m left with no toes, heels, or skin, so I stayed alive—but did I really win?
Two months with surgery every other day, please let my parents and my brother be ok.
Eventually the big decision day comes—bilateral below knee amputee? Now I’m one.
So my life goes on and prosthetics I wear, but my family will never get over the scare.
There in that room . . . I was just 22, but oh how through the experience I grew!
Meningitis information I soon eagerly sought. I discovered that there’s a vaccine—what a thought!
The knowledge of inner beauty did finally come, and I realize, somehow, the battle I won!
But in my head, I know some will die, and many families will forever cry.
And in my heart, I am in disbelief that a shot could have prevented all of this grief!