On the Edge of Illness – spinal meningitis

Illness – Our beautiful baby girl was only 11 days old when she became ill with a low fever. She was whimpering as she slept and we quickly wrapped her in a blanket and rushed to our doctor’s office. As we arrived home the phone was already ringing. Her doctor, suspecting that she had the flu, had drawn blood and scolded me for allowing visitors to be close to Angela as we were in the middle of an epidemic in our little town of Girard, Ohio. But now he was on the phone telling me to take her to the hospital immediately to have what would be the first of seven spinal taps. He had looked at the blood test results and suspected that our baby had spinal meningitis. As we arrived in the emergency room the nurses were waiting for us, as the doctor had called ahead.

On the Edge of Illness

on the edge of illness - spinal meningitis Our worst fears came true. After admitting the baby to the hospital and getting her settled in a quarantined nursery, we settled in to wait for three long days for the spinal tap results. She had somehow contracted meningitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, and it was a very rare strain. Our doctor consulted a pediatric specialist and they suggested that my husband and I allow them to try an experimental drug on our baby. It was our only hope, but there was a chance that she would end up being blind or deaf. But she was our precious gift from God and we agreed.

We were told that if the drug worked Angela would be well in three weeks. What a long time that seemed at the time. However, we soon realized that there were children on that floor who had much longer battles to fight, and three weeks was nothing to complain about. We met families who were meeting life’s heartaches and challenges head-on every day. They watched their children endure surgeries, chemotherapy, painful therapies only to face more pain and endless waiting at each turn.

As it turned out, the medicine saved Angela’s life and she has turned out to be a very healthy young woman. But the lessons her father and I learned as we met the other families during that time will forever remind us how precious each day with our daughter is.

By Mary Ellen Avritt

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