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Bacterial Meningitus
Old 09-09-2009, 08:07 AM   #1
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Bacterial Meningitus

My 37 yr old son just survived bacterial meningitus and I thought I would post about his (and my) ordeal in the hopes that it educate anyone who doesn't know the symptoms. I did know the symptoms and my quick response to them definitely helped him get thru it.

On Monday, Sept. 1, my son's girlfriend called me and said he was complaining of a stiff neck. I had seen him the night before and he was fine so I didn't think much of it. He is a healthy and very active young man. At 7 PM that night girlfriend calls back and says he has a splitting headache. I then remembered hearing about meningitus years ago when someone I knew lost her son with it and alarm bells went off in my head. I said get him to the emergency room.

At the hospital they did a CAT and a spinal tap (not what they call it these days but heck if I can remember....) and said it was meningitus. They just didn't know what kind, viral or bacterial. The nice doctor explained that bacterial is pretty rare and much more deadly, so it's probably viral. Several hours later they came back to say it was bacterial but they didn't know what kind of bacteria was causing it.

They proceeded to start the admittance procedures into the hospital. I stayed with my son during this time and within a few hours saw his condition quickly deteriate. He had fever and chills, was very sensitive to light, and his head was hurting so much he cried. Before he could get admitted he was confused and didn't know where he was.

They quickly got him to ICU and by 2:30 on the morning of Sept. 2 he was on a ventilator and surrounded by machines. He was struggling and fighting with the doctors and nurses and was finally restrained. They kept him knocked out for the next four days while they fed him massive amounts of antibiotics.

It was determined that the bacteria was staph and they were finally able to give him the specific antibiotic for that and he started improving very quickly. He came out of ICU after 6 days. He came home from the hospital yesterday, Sept. 8th.

The meningitus has left him with some motor skill problems and mental confusion. He has a weakness on his left side that has caused him to have problems using his left hand and moving his left leg. He is improving daily and the doctor tells me that he should make a complete recovery. His recovery may takes many weeks.

The kicker to this is that it all started with a scratch on his arm. My son does HVAC work and crawls into some pretty dirty attics, etc. The scratch got infected and he went to the doctor and got antibiotics. Unfortunately, they made him sick at his stomack and he got busy and he just stopped taking them. His arm was better, so he didn't need them! The staph infection came raging back and quickly progressed into bacterial meningitus.

Lessons learned are always follow the doctors orders about finishing all your antibiotic treatment, treat all scratches and ouchees seriously, and know the signs of meningitus. If you have a stiff neck, headaches, sensitivity to light, mental confusion, and problems with your ears, get to the emergency room ASAP. This stuff is deadly and time is important. They say if we had delayed a few more hours it may have been to late.

My son came home from the hospital yesterday. I am administering antibiotics thru a pic line for the next two weeks. They make him sick at his stomack, but he isn't going to quite taking them.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:12 AM   #2
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Wow, what an experience for all of you. Thank goodness you got him to the ER quickly.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:18 AM   #3
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Wow! Glad your son is home again after such a serious illness.

My brother got bacterial (meningococcal) meningitis in 1951 and almost died, when he was in third grade. His symptoms were that he passed out and fell face first in the snow in our front yard, after walking home from school. He had complained that he felt sick, and was allowed to walk home early. My mother found him there and carried him inside. My father was a doctor, and detected the stiff neck right away so he got him to a hospital emergency room swiftly, and made sure that the doctors there treated him with the latest "miracle drugs" (I don't remember what antibiotic was used but I remember hearing that it was pretty new, as were many antibiotics back then, and either experimental or nearly so at the time).

Meanwhile, the entire elementary school he attended was shut down as a precaution! That certainly impressed all of his friends. Nobody else got it, though. Nobody else in the family got it, either.

His recovery was also lengthy, but he did fully recover. I hope your son's recovery is as complete.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:42 AM   #4
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Horrible experience, though with an outcome that could have been worse. Good for you for taking things under control, to the hospital for prompt recognition and treatment. All the best for his full recovery.

Acute bacterial meningitis is the scourge of both pediatricians and internists. It is easy to delay diagnosis because the early symptoms are flu-like, yet delay can be deadly; it can kill in hours. Viral is most common and the least dangerous, but it takes a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to be sure of the diagnosis.

Glad he got through it.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:56 AM   #5
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My newborn niece unfortunately got this. Luckily quick intervention and tons of antibiotics saved her. I think she is fully recovered now. Same comments from the doc - if they would have waited a few hours longer it would have probably been too late.
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:35 AM   #6
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Best wishes for your son's full recovery. He is lucky to have you to take care of him now.

Thank you for sharing this with us. Most of us non-doctors would probably ignore the symptoms and delay going to the ER.
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Horrible experience, though with an outcome that could have been worse. Good for you for taking things under control, to the hospital for prompt recognition and treatment. All the best for his full recovery.

Acute bacterial meningitis is the scourge of both pediatricians and internists. It is easy to delay diagnosis because the early symptoms are flu-like, yet delay can be deadly; it can kill in hours. Viral is most common and the least dangerous, but it takes a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to be sure of the diagnosis.

Glad he got through it.
yep, I had the viral version of it... not fun.. stiff neck, splitting headache, fever, and most noticeable was how much it severely hurt every time my eyes moved... and they moved a lot... ouch,ouch,ouch...
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Old 09-09-2009, 05:05 PM   #8
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I ,too, am glad your son is recovered Cruisinthru. I also wish to thank you for sharing his(and your) ordeal as it serves as a reminder to the rest of us to beware of these symptoms.
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Old 09-09-2009, 05:15 PM   #9
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Thank you for sharing this. DH blows off scratches, etc. despite my warnings to use antibiotic cream, etc. I will now have a story to add which should get his attention.

So glad your son pulled through this ordeal. Wow, pretty scary.
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Old 09-09-2009, 07:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Cruisinthru View Post
On Monday, Sept. 1, my son's girlfriend called me and said he was complaining of a stiff neck. I had seen him the night before and he was fine so I didn't think much of it. He is a healthy and very active young man. At 7 PM that night girlfriend calls back and says he has a splitting headache. I then remembered hearing about meningitus years ago when someone I knew lost her son with it and alarm bells went off in my head. I said get him to the emergency room.
Your son owes his life to your actions. You are one great mom!

He had the typical symptoms: stiff neck and headache. If this was staph aureus (there are several kinds of staph) he is lucky to be alive even with prompt treatment. I hope he will make a complete recovery.

And now the pediatrician's lesson: if you are the parent of an infant, and he or she gets meningitis, the symptoms may be much more vague. For one thing, small infants may have a serious infection without a fever. Also, the skull bones have not united (they have to be flexible at birth to squeeze through the birth canal) and therefore there may be less pressure inside the skull even when the meninges (membranes around the brain) are very inflamed. So if an infant looks "septic" we always feel the soft spot to detect bulging. We do a spinal tap at the drop of a hat.

One of the most serious forms of bacterial meningitis is meningococcal. This bacterium also causes blockage of blood vessels with infected gobs of bacteria, often leading to gangrene and loss of limbs. There is a vaccine available to prevent this infection. There is also a vaccine available to prevent pneumococcal meningitis. But there is no vaccine that would have prevented your son's infection. Only a change of occupation, gloves, or finishing the course of antibiotics, could do that.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:52 PM   #11
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I am so glad your story has had a positive outcome . It is always scary when your children get seriously ill .
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:18 PM   #12
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Very scary indeed but it sounds like prompt action has saved a life - very well done.

At 36 I had a similar experience, with stiff neck, sore back, vomiting, headaches and a temperature that was so high DW didn't believe our thermometer and she promptly loaded me in the car and took me to the Doc. Before I'd had the lumbar puncture I was asked if I'd been bitten by any mosquitoes lately to which I replied "I'm a soccer referee in South Louisiana, I get bitten all the time". The docs thought it might be enchephalitis but the tests showed "only" viral meningitis. (The admitting nurse at the ER took my temperature with 3 different thermometers to verify the reading ).

Mine was a horrible experience but nothing compared to what your son has gone through. I wish him a full recovery.
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:06 PM   #13
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That story is frightening. A stiff neck (I must have slept funny) and headache (who doesn't get headaches occasionally) are such common symptoms. Your son is a lucky lucky man.
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:34 AM   #14
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Glad to hear he's doing alright now, Cruisinthru. Wonderful that you have a good relationship with him and his girlfriend.
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:37 AM   #15
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My son has now been home from the hospital for two days. I say home, he is staying with me so I can administer the antibiotics he needs three times a day and take care of his other needs! His girlfriend needed to return to work after taking off for a week. Every day he seems to improve some. His mental condition seems to be clearing and he is walking without the use of a walker. He still has limited use of his left hand and arm. He is battling a bit of a pity party. I can't imagine how it must feel to be healthy and active and then wake up to what seems to be mountains of issues. And how he feels back in Mom's extra bedroom!

He doesn't even remember getting to the hospital or any of his time in ICU. The meningitus came on so fast, it is hard to comprehend the speed in which he declined. I feel very blessed that his girlfriend was with him and that she called. Had he been alone I don't know if he would have realized what was happening to him. In truth, she called me second, after calling her own Mom. Her Mom also knew the signs of meningitus and told her to get him to the emergency room. She then called me, and I reacted with the same response and told her I would meet them at the hospital.. His girlfriend did not know about the signs of meningitus. She only knew that he doesn't complain much, has very few headaches, and something was very wrong. I have told my son I really liked his girlfriend before this, I love her now.

Thanks for all the good wishes. Please keep my son in your prayers.
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:06 PM   #16
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His mental condition seems to be clearing and he is walking without the use of a walker. He still has limited use of his left hand and arm. He is battling a bit of a pity party. I can't imagine how it must feel to be healthy and active and then wake up to what seems to be mountains of issues. And how he feels back in Mom's extra bedroom!
Cruisinthru, is he getting therapy? It might help hasten his recovery of motor function and brighten his spirits. Just a thought.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:44 PM   #17
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He received some physical therapy in the hospital. His doctor wanted him on antibiotics for another week and then they will decide if he needs more therapy. As his brain recovers from the infection he will improve. Each day I see improvement. When he first came out of ICU he couldn't walk. He couldn't control his left leg at all. The next day he could stand and move somewhat with the add of a walker. He has gone from struggling with a walker, to walking without it (a little drunkenly but walking), and now he is walking pretty good. His arm and hand have improved but not as much as his leg. I think that is because he hasn't used it as much. Today I got him some small hand weights and a squeeze ball to build his strength.
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:40 AM   #18
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Glad he is doing better. If I remember correctly, my daughter received a vaccine when she was a freshman at the university for meningitis. Also, if I remember correctly, it was quite new at the time.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:14 AM   #19
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They do have vaccine for viral meningitus. One particular strain of viral is very contagious and passes easily where people live in tight quarters such as college dorms.

A question for those of you who have had menigitus, how long did it take you to recover completely?
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Old 09-11-2009, 10:58 AM   #20
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I'm glad to hear your son survived and is recovering.

The vaccine is for meningococcal meningitis, another form of bacterial meningitis which used to be a devastating disease in otherwise healthy adolescents and young adults. For more info see: CDC - Meningitis: Questions and Answers

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