26 Days of Hell — Come to an End

18 Apr

Friday, April 20th, will be 14 years since my beautiful son, Evan, died from meningococcal disease. Fourteen years sounds like such a long time, like you should be over it by now.  But for the loss of a child, 14 years is just 14 seconds.  Every day of the 26 days he was in the hospital, every minute, is still so clear in my mind.   I remember the critical care unit doctor, so upset and angry that a healthy, young man, was fighting for his life, that he went into the supply closet and kicked the door.  Doctors have feelings, and when they see the devastation of this disease, it hits them in their heart.  I remember Evan watching a video that his baseball team had made him, to cheer him up.  Evan was intubated and couldn’t speak, but his eyes were big as saucers, as he watched his friends on the video.  I remember the horrible night he lifted himself up, saw his black hands and arms, and went into a panic attack, not being able to speak, but shaking  and spiking a high fever because he didn’t know what was happening to him.  No one could calm him down – not me, not his father, not his brother — until the neurologist came in and said, “Evan, look at me.  You have been very sick.  Just concentrate on getting better.”  Evan stared at the doctor (who, along with his wife, are now good friends of ours), trying to see through the doctor’s eyes, to see if he was telling the truth.  After that, they kept Evan completely intubated again.  No one realized he had the strength to lift his head up enough to see his arms.  And the stories just get worse.  After Evan was transferred to a burn unit via air ambulance (which the health insurance did not want to pay for, even though the doctors said it was Evan’s only chance of survival), I drove with my younger son to the burn unit hospital, about 3 hours away.  My husband called me to say that the burn unit only gave Evan a 1% chance of survival.  How can you drive with those words racing in your brain.  What do I say to my younger son, who is asking me about life after death, will Evan still be around.  My two sons were 12 ½ months apart, brothers and best friends.  The images and stories go on. We went through 26 days of hell and lost our son.  If even one family will make sure their children are vaccinated, then Evan, and all of the others we have lost too soon to this disease, we will be making a difference.

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