It was 9th grade orientation, and I was the most excited I had ever been. I was up at 6:00 AM, washed, dressed, and prepared. I was a dorky teenager, trying to be 'cool'. And mind you, I was only 13. 


As I arrived at 9th grade orientation, my excitement bubbled, and the feeling in my stomach assured me of that. I met up with all of my friends at the front of the school, and we all went inside. 


The orientation was one of the most exciting days ever, until I was stricken with a bad headache. My mother told me it might be a migraine, so I went to the car while she did all the rest for me, and tried to sleep. The headache was the worst thing I had ever had in my life. It was one of those doubling over, screeching headaches that make your neck stiff..


After we arrived home, the headache worsened. My body began to ache, and my neck started to stiffen. It felt as if someone was driving a screwdriver through my head. I laid in bed, watching the beginning of the Olympics, until at around 8:00 PM on August 14th, my mother got me up and told me we were going to the ER because she suspected that I had meningitis. 


We arrived at the ER. My fever had spiked up to 104.0 and they sent me back into a quarantined room, with some blankets, and nothing else. (There was no bed. It was just a chair!!!)

I wasn't allowed to eat or drink, so they put me on an IV drip, and I sat, bored out of my mind. My headache raged, and my neck was stiff. They came in every so often to do a blood test, and then left.


It was like that for 7 hours straight. No pain medication, nothing.


Finally, the doctor came in, and said, "If you have meningitis, the only way to diagnose it is through a spinal tap."

They had mentioned the word: "Lumbar Puncture", and the puncture part didn't sound very pleasant at all, so I was already against it. (I HATED NEEDLES)


We decided that it would be better to NOT die, so I decided to get the spinal tap. They brought me to another room with a real bed, where I was able to sit down, and rest. I remember that the plasma screen TV in the room didn't work. Funny.

The doctor came in, and I saw the 8 foot long needle (exaggeration- probably a few inches long) and some other tools and began having an anxiety attack. I was told to lean over a table, and my mom and dad were both at the front, trying to console what little emotion I had. I was afraid, yes. But tried to be brave about it.

The doctor told me step by step what she was going to do, and I didn't want to hear it, but I had to anyway. She put the "numbing" gel on first, (which numbs the SKIN- kind of, not the spine. It didn't work on me at all)


All of a sudden, I hear that she is going to begin, and I feel a sharp pain going through my skin, through the vertebrae, into my spine. The pain feels LITERALLY like a knife being stabbed into my spine, and then the pain rises to the worst pain imaginable as she hits a nerve and it feels like a lightning bolt being struck through both of my legs and my spine. I look down, seeing my legs perfectly intact. I feel my nails dig into the pillow and tear it. I don't scream. I don't cry. I bite the pillow, seeing as that is the only thing that will keep me from killing the doctor behind me. 

The agony still sears through me, and I scream, "STOP!!!!!" 

And it does. 

The pain subsides, and I am laid down, and suddenly, a heap of nurses crowd my breathing room. My father is at the left, and my mom is at the right. I suddenly feel a shiver, and happy and weightless...

"Dad...? What's that...?" I ask, sleepily.

"That's morphine, honey." Then I hear him chuckle quietly. I laugh a bit myself. I am now painless.


It's strange because in the fog, I can see my sister, my step mother, my sister's father, my father, my brother, and my mom all together in the same room. My sister brought me a pillow from home, and she gave me it to lay on. It was wonderful. The softness was comforting. I closed my eyes, and let my mind drift as I began to sleep for a little while.


When I was woken up, paramedics were outside of the room. I opened my eyes, and was suddenly confused. They told me that an ambulance was awaiting my arrival.


They told me I had bacterial meningitis, and that I was to be kept in the hospital for a week or longer with heavy meds.


I got up, and was rolled out to the ambulance. The only thing I ever remember in the ambulance was me laughing a lot, and everything being very SHINY....


I was admitted to the hospital on August 14th, 2008, a month before my 14th birthday. 


That night was the best and worst night of my life.


But I lived.


To this day, I still have back problems, memory problems, and leg/nerve problems. I'm fine otherwise, but I wasn't able to attend school for about 3 weeks- the first year of high school! 

I had to get muscle and nerve testing almost every week, and had to play memory games and took many trips to the Neurologist. Needles no longer scare me.


This whole incident, though horrible, was an experience that made me stronger. Things that happen to us in life that we call "Bad" or "Horrible" isn't really all that bad when we look at it from a different perspective. I believe that there were many lessons learned after this incident. I was able to see who my real friends were, and who would leave me in an instant. I was able to find those who I really care about, and who really care about me. Some other personal things happened, that changed my health for the good. My life was totally and completely changed. I began to see that life is short, and greed, selfishness and hatred all lead to a life that I never want to live. Life was meant to be like a huge canvas. Throw all the paint on it you can. Make a masterpiece.



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Comment by Sarah W on March 18, 2011 at 12:00pm

It made me stronger. All the way through. 


Comment by Sarah W on March 18, 2011 at 11:02am

Vicky- That's so scary! I am glad you were all right! 

Katie- Yes. it was terrifying! Thank you! 


Comment by Vicky on March 18, 2011 at 2:24am

Hey Sarah! Well I have to tell you, I've been thinking about your blog ALOT.  About 5 months ago, I was in the same boat.  I'd just gotten home from a trip and started getting really nasty headaches and stiffness in my neck.  I suffered a week with this before going to the ER in immense pain.  The doctor told me it was only due to my "lady times" and sent me home.  Every time I took a step the pain woul shoot through my back, steal my breath, and stab right into my head.  But I went home.  The next day the pain was unbearable, and shut myself away in a room.  I couldn't bear to be around anyone, touch anything, and light was agony.  So I went back to the hospital because a friend of mine suspected I had meningitis.  I told the ER doctor about the visit the day before, and what I suspected, and low and behold... A spinal tap was ordered.  I have never been so scared in my whole life, and I did NOT want him telling me what he was doing...but he did anyway.  They came into the room wearing masks, and protective gowns and it freaked me out, but the pain I had was so intense, I didn't really feel the spinal tap.  Just a little tingling in my leg.  I couldn't concentrate on anything else because they hadn't given me any pain meds.  The tap came back positive for meningitis, but they suspected it was just viral.  I had CT and MRI scans, twice daily injections in my tummy, antibiotics, pain name it.  They found a lesion in my brain which I have to go back and have checked this month, because it looked suspicious (and I hope it's nothing bad).  Long story short, I spent 8 days in the hospital, and it took about 3 months to fully recover from it.  So I TOTALLY Get where you're coming from.  Vix.


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