Hello Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or even good Evening!!
Thanks for checking in back with me! Life can be truly amazing – filled with ups and downs, hurdles where you least expect it, and when we’re lucky, we make it out without a scratch. I recently did an interview with a news correspondent from San Antonio, and they were able to broadcast the interview all over the country. I looked at my email and Boom! There was a good handful of emails sending me Thank You’s for all the good work, and sharing heart breaking stories of their loved ones that didn’t survive. I don’t know why I was so lucky to have survived. To think about the life I have experienced since surviving meningitis, I feel grateful and also hurt that the ones who didn’t survive are not experiencing their life as it was meant to be. No one can really comprehend why this happened to them. What a hard reality to face! During my 7-month hospital stay, it didn’t really hit me until my 5th month mark. In the beginning, I was highly medicated to minimalize the pain but was very optimistic. They would say “Oh it looks like some of your feet will be amputated.” “Now it looks like your whole foot.” “Now both of your feet, and some of your fingers.” The news got worse and worse. “Your organs are failing.” “We don’t know how you’re going to survive Jamie but we’re giving you medicine so you’re not in as much pain.”
This was my reality.
Doctors were telling me that they don’t know how my wounds are going to heal, they weren’t sure if my organs would function again. There was so much worry put on top of whatever little hope we had. But somehow during this overbearing information, I was optimistic! I don’t know how and I don’t know why! During my first few weeks of my hospital stay, my limbs were decaying and the necrosis skin was taking over my legs and my arms but I knew I needed to get out and get on with my life. I was half alive and half dead, but I was eager to move on. The doctor would come in and say “we’re going to amputate officially,” and my response was “let’s do it! I have school to get back to and tests to take!” I wanted to keep pushing. At a different point, the doctor took a knife and dug into my leg and cut off the side of my hand. He did this to show me that it was dead tissue. The inside was yellow and there was absolutely no blood. The bizarre fact was that it didn’t even hurt when it was happening.
This was my reality.
I went from dancing my face off at Austin City Music Festival and then a month later, I was in the hospital not knowing what my future would be like or if I would survive. Life is filled with hurdles. It’s how you survive and strive to move forward that makes the difference. Easier said than done, I know.
It was a long battle of denial but at my 5-month mark, it hit me. It was a month or two after my amputations, and I was completely bandaged up. My hands were covered, my new legs were wrapped all the way up to my underwear. I haven’t scratched anything, I hadn’t been able to move (couldn’t even roll to my side on my own), I was completely dependent on others, I was starting to lose my hair due to my lack in protein levels, and it all hit me. I was defeated. I was throwing my blanket and pillows around with what little energy I had, and started to cry/scream, saying “Why me!?!! God, why did this happen to me!!” I didn’t deserve this. I was a good person (still am), never caused harm, hated bullies but now I sit in a room where I had been for months and when I thought things would have already progressed, it was only getting worse. When I had, other amputees come to meet me, they would say, “it will get better.” Very hard information to take in after so many months of frustration. However, they were right. It did get better. Due time, my protein levels came back, my organs gained full function, I was gaining strength and could sit up in my bed for the first in my entire 7-month hospital stay… finally without anyone’s help pushing me up. It was a long battle and as I was leaving the hospital, I thought “it’s finally over,” but it was only the beginning.
Life can be a beautiful thing but it can also be complicated within it's beauty. Life needs to be filled with learned mistakes, and heartache. Life can’t be all daisies and sunshine, otherwise we don’t become the strong people we are today. When you’re at an impasse, take a breath, accept it and learn to get around it. Accepting the challenge is the hardest part. It’s our job as individuals to take hold of what life we have and make it better for ourselves. Make the decision today to make a difference and seek greater opportunities for yourself. Do it, because you can.
This month is immunization awareness month so I thought I would share the facts on meningitis. There are two different vaccines that work together to fight against meningitis. The first vaccine fights off strains A,C,W, &Y and you’re supposed to get that primary dose at ages 11-12 and the booster at ages 16-18. However, only 30% of people who are receiving their primary vaccine, are getting that booster. Very scary info! Please call your doctor to make sure you received the booster because once you go to college, you’re at the greatest risk for catching meningitis so please make sure you’re protected prior to enrolling. I was that person. Please learn from my mistake. The strain of meningitis that I caught was “C,” and it could have been prevented if I got that shot before going to college. This vaccine has been available since 2005. The second and newest vaccine protects against meningitis “B” and a third of meningitis cases are B strains. This second vaccine was made recently in 2014. ACIP(Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) says for you to take the meningitis B vaccine before college but if you have a child going to camp, I highly encouraged that your child gets both vaccines (A,C,W,Y & B) before your child is in an environment where germs are being spread rapidly. Don’t risk your life or your child’s life by not receiving the vaccines. It’s not about the individual receiving the vaccine, it’s about how they’re now protected and that they’re providing a healthier community. If your child isn’t vaccinated, your child is at risk of catching a disease and is also at risk of spreading the disease to other people. This can be vital in a scenario where a child is immune compromised and can’t receive vaccines because of their delicate state. And if the unvaccinated child plays around with someone who is immune compromised, you’re putting that child’s health at risk. Vaccinating isn’t a self-choice, it’s a community choice. Please prevent what’s preventable, create a stronger and healthier community, and please, get vaccinated.