The year 2000 was very exciting for me. I had recently gotten married and was adjusting to marriage, a new job, and life seemed very hectic. I didn't realize how hectic things could get!
I was in my office one day and turned suddenly when I had my first "head rush." This was at the end of August and we were having very hot weather, and I was very busy with work at that time, so I explained it away. A couple of days later, I was walking across the parking lot of the post office when I felt another rush coming on.
On Thursday, I decided to have a check up. I had been to my doctor several times that year for allergy headaches, so I decided this was somehow related. He did an EKG and some chest X-ray's, found nothing unusual, and said it was probably the heat. We scheduled a blood work-up for Tuesday, and I went home. I thought the rushes were somehow diet related, and quit eating salt and stopped drinking Diet Coke, thinking it was somehow a blood pressure problem.
By Friday, I had these rushes off and on all day. My new husband was on a business trip in Germany, and I had made plans to visit my parents for the Labor Day weekend. I made the two hour drive, stopping once to get something to drink. When I went into the convenience store, I felt the rush starting. I had to sit in the car and wait before I felt like I could drive.
When I arrived at their house I tried to make it inside, but the back door was locked. The rush was so bad I couldn't make it back to my car. I had to sit in my mother's car in our garage. I called her from her cell phone in her car. They had to come out to get me.
I felt better the next day (Saturday), and had planned to go back home. But decided to stay one more day. On Sunday I was so tired I decided I would go back early the next morning.
I woke up at 5:00 am and my head was hurting so badly I didn't think I could get up to find any aspirin. My mother came in and woke me at 8:00 and I was in tears with the pain. I felt like my head was in a vice. The pain was over my right eye. My parents took me to the emergency room. The nausea was so bad I had them pack me a bucket.
After six hours in the emergency room, and a CT Scan the doctor said he felt I had migraine headaches. I had classic migraine symptoms, but didn't respond to the medicine. He said that we had waited too long and sometimes the medicine wouldn't work if you didn't treat the headache early enough. He gave me some Demerol and sent me home.
After sleeping it off I woke up and felt better. The next day I decided that if it wasn't an aneurysm, or a brain tumor I could handle it. But I didn't get better. My parents didn't want me to drive so they took me back home.
We picked my husband up from the airport and told him what had happened. Over the next week, I could no longer drive, work, or do much of anything. The rushes (which the doctors decided were the aura before the migraine) were so bad, I could no longer lie on my side. My eyes hurt from the pressure, and I couldn't turn my head without having one. The headaches didn't stop, and the medicine didn't work.
On Sunday I thought I was better so we went to church. As we stood for the final prayer my leg was asleep. I jokingly told my husband he would have to carry me to the car. By the time we were outside the numbness was moving up my left side. It went into my arm, neck, face, tongue and eye. I thought I was having a stroke. He took me home and I tried to lie down, but I could feel the headache coming. It was full force in two minutes.
We went back to the emergency room, they said it was a classic migraine symptom. They gave me Morphine and Phenergan, started me on a beta-blocker, and sent me home. I laid in bed all day with quilts over the windows to block the light. I finally woke up that night and thought everything would be ok if I could decide what was triggering the migraines.
On Wednesday, September 13, 2000 I went to the couch to wake my husband (he had been sleeping on the couch so he wouldn't wake me). I wanted to tell him that the alarm had gone off but when I opened my mouth, weird words came out. I said, " I don't know what I just said, but I have another headache, and I am going back to bed." He left a little before 8:00 am and I was already throwing up.
I had a meeting at 10:00 at work that I was determined not to miss because I had already rescheduled once. My head hurt so badly I couldn't decide what hurt worse, laying still or moving. I noticed my hands had started to draw up, and I couldn't move my legs very well. I would try to walk around, but my peripheral vision was gone, and I kept running into walls.
I talked on the phone a couple of times, but other times it would ring I couldn't remember how to answer it. I knew I could take another migraine pill at 10:00, but I couldn't get the wrapper open, and when I would set it down, I couldn't see it anymore. Needless to say, I missed the meeting. My co-workers called my husband and told him I didn't show. He told them I was sick again, but that I had been talking about the meeting that morning. He said he would go home and check on me and call them right back.
He came casually strolling up to our front door and looked in the window at me on the floor of our den surrounded by pills. His first thought was that I had overdosed. He didn't have his key so he was frantically trying to get me to let him in. I couldn't remember how to unlock the door. I fell a few times, but finally got the door open.
He dressed me and got me to the emergency room. He was scared out of his mind, thinking I didn't know who he was. He noticed my hands and I know he thought I was going to die.
After two MRI's (I moved during the first one), and several other tests they did the spinal tap. My neurologist said the fluid shot out of my spine because of the pressure. They had me heavily sedated because I had wrestled around so much during the day. However, halfway through the test I sat up and the needle fell out.
I was in the hospital for a week, and on antibiotics to make sure the weird bacteria they found was from the contaminated needle (after the test) and not from me. I have never in my life felt so bad.
My recovery took about two months. Now I am healthy. I have no permanent damage, and I feel that God has blessed me as my case was not as serious as it could have been. I have no resentment towards my doctors for misdiagnosing me because my symptoms were classic migraine symptoms. I had no fever, and no neck stiffness. I just hope reading about my experience will help someone else.
Jaylia had viral meningitis. You can reach her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Did this story move you? The Meningitis Foundation of America provides these stories so that families can share their experiences with Meningitis. It is with your financial support that these families have a voice - please click here to make your tax-deductible donation today.