By Virginia Young
Originally posted 20 February 2010, reposted with permission 01 December 2010
Well another Super Bowl has come and gone. People rushed the grocery stores in preparation for the big day. I ran up to the store just as the game was starting for a few more ingredients I needed for dinner. No surprise the place was empty. Other than staff only three customers were there at a time when the place should have been hopping, and I was one of them.
Chips, dips, beer were all purchased and the fans were snug in their living rooms with friends and family anxiously glued to the television sets. In all honesty watching the Super Bowl, while once an item on my to do list, has taken a back seat to something more important. For the last nine years Super Bowl Sunday has been a reminder to me to give thanks for my life and those who are special to me because nine years ago on Super Bowl Sunday my little girl fought for her life while the rest of the world watched football.
In 2001 news reports revealed several students had died from meningitis. Kelsey Seybold, a large clinic system located in Houston Texas, opened up clinics all around the Houston area. Every night we turned on the television to see reporters at these sites. Long lines of people were waiting their turn for the Menomune vaccine. We continued to hear reports of meningitis in the local schools. A teacher’s husband had contracted it and it was not known whether or not he would live. Parents started pulling their children from class to take them to the doctor for the new vaccine.
I believed my children had reacted to their childhood immunizations although I could not find a physician to agree. Regardless, I was not clamoring for more. Then rumors spread of possible cases just a mile from our home. My husband was growing more concerned as his pregnant patients came into contact with the bug through friends and family. He called the Department of Health to inquire about the vaccine. He was told it was absolutely safe and he could use it in his pregnant patients.
The Friday night before the Super Bowl my husband met the four of us at a birthday party. “I have the shots drawn up and in the refrigerator at home”, he whispered. He had purchased them from a friend. At this point everyone we knew had vaccinated their children (or so it seemed) and we were some of the last hold outs. I had not seen any reactions in other children, and although I was not comfortable with the decision I agreed to vaccinate our kids. After all the health department recommended it for pregnant women and vaccines must be well studied, or so I thought. The fear of being responsible for something going wrong if we did NOT vaccinate had won. That night my children sat in my lap at the kitchen table as my husband vaccinated them with Menomune.
Friday night passed without incident. Saturday came and went. Sunday seemed uneventful as well, and I had almost forgotten about the dreaded vaccines. Around 5:00 in the evening my youngest daughter lay down on our couch upstairs. She said she was tired and I started to get busy with dinner and our evening routine. I don’t know exactly how much time passed. It was getting dark and I decided to check on her because no one had heard a peep out of her.
As I walked to the couch I could feel heat radiating from her body. Her skin was blood red. She has a rash all over her body from a condition called Urticaria Pigmentosa. This rash was worse than anything I had ever seen on her before and she was blistering. Her eyes were just as red as her skin. Her face was swelling. She tried to turn her head but could only move it a fraction of an inch. She winced in pain. Her voice trembled.
“Mommy help me. It hurts. Help me.” She tried to move her limbs. “Mommy, I can’t move”.
I called out for help, told my little girl I would be right back and that everything would be okay then I ran for the thermometer and Tylenol. When I touched her arm it burned my own skin. I started to cry as soon as my face was turned away from hers. I gasped a breath and pinched myself. Get a hold of yourself, Virginia. She can’t see you scared, I thought to myself. I came back with a smile on my face but my voice was cracking.
“Hang in there, baby. It’s going to be okay”. The thermometer read 101 within seconds… 102… 103… 104. This was axial temperature so her core would be a degree higher. It crept up to 105 degrees. In the meantime I had told my husband to get the car ready and call my mom to come. She lived an hour away and needed to get on the road as soon as possible. This wasn’t something I could get through without her. I thought I was going to lose my little girl. Everything happened so fast and yet it was like slow motion. My husband and I looked at each other for a moment holding our breath.
While I got the kids ready to leave he consoled Marie.