Our family was personally affected by meningitis

“Mom, I think I’m going to die.”  Words no mother should ever have to hear.  But my 10-year-old son Tyler said, just that as he fought for his life in June 2008 battling meningococcal meningitis, a rare, but serious illness that can potentially cause death or disability in just a single day.

Tyler began running a high fever one morning, so I took him to the doctor and later to the emergency room.  Diagnosed with a virus each time, Tyler was sent home to rest.  The next day, I rushed my son to the hospital, where he developed a purplish rash on his feet, a classic symptom of meningococcal disease.

Luckily, Tyler survived, but doctors had to amputate his feet and some of the fingers on his right hand in order to save his life.  “Don’t think this can’t happen to you.  I would never have imagined something like this would happen to my family.”

It wasn’t until after Tyler got sick that I learned a vaccine is available for children Tyler’s age to help prevent meningitis.  My son lost his feet and fingers to a disease I knew nothing about.  Every parent should talk to their child’s health-care provider about vaccination to potentially prevent this nightmare.  After Tyler’s illness, I made sure to have my younger child vaccinated as well.

Despite his ordeal, Tyler remains an active 13-year-old who loves sports.

Shara Ludlum


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