China Marie Ray

china_3July 23, 1997 to January 12, 1999

Words can not do justice to China’s contagious spirit. She loved life and brought a smile to everyone who met her. She changed our lives forever. China was a healthy baby with 5 episodes of ear infections and no other illnesses. We spoke of tubes in her ears but her infection cleared up.

On Friday, January 8, 1999 I picked China up at my mom’s house after work. She was playing with everyone but looked tired and not herself. When I picked her up she felt warm. I decided to take her to “Urgent Care” so that she would not have to go through the weekend feeling bad. She had a fever of 102 degrees and an ear infection in her right ear only.

We were given Zithromax and Histex and told to rotate Tylenol and Advil for fever. China never complained or cried all weekend. On Saturday, she was her old self; running, playing, laughing and smiling. When we woke up Sunday, China just wanted to sleep all day and I took advantage of snuggling and holding her all day. She would wake up for a few minutes and go right back to sleep. She woke up once, walked around the coffee table and put her arms up for me to take her.

My sister and parents came over for dinner that night and China slept most of the time they were there. When she did wake up she looked very distant. I called the emergency room and the doctor on call said she needed the extra sleep. I made her a bottle of chicken noodle soup broth. She drank most of it. It was the only things she had eaten all day. We went to bed. She woke up 2 times that night for a few minutes.

Monday morning I got dressed and tried to wake China. She opened her eyes and had a “blank” look in her eyes.

Her face and lips were twitching. I knew something was very wrong. We went to the emergency room and took her straight in. Her doctor was in the room in minutes. We were questioned about possible drug intake. They soon diagnosed meningitis after a spinal tap and CAT scan. She was air lifted to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

Watching her take off without me was awful. When we arrived at Children’s Hospital, she had been settled in and her medication continued. I was asked to go downstairs to register her so that she could be treated. She was given Phenobarbital to control seizures, which she responded well to. Her eyes stayed open most of the day but where very distant.

She did not respond to our voice or other stimulants. The doctors sounded concerned but very hopeful and said we would have to wait and watch to see how she responded to antibiotics. That night the doctor came by and told us the chance of China being deaf was great and we should prepare for a long hospital stay. I knew China would adapt well to her deafness and I pictured her as the next Heather Whitestone.

I could not leave her so I stared at her and her monitors all night. China had to be intubated with a breathing tube that night which the doctors felt would happen much sooner because of the Phenobarbital. It was the longest day of my life. The wonderful nurse on duty that night let me give China a sponge bath and hold her for a few minutes. I will cherish that moment forever.

The next morning was devastating. China’s EEG showed that she had suffered a stroke sometime during the night and her brain was not responding to any type of stimuli. Her test confirmed Streptococcus Pneumonia Meningitis.

Our baby was gone. As fast as she came into this world, she had now left. I thought it was all a bad dream and I was going to wake up and China would be calling “A-Mama”. We had to make the hardest decision of our lives. China needed to be removed from life support. They let me hold her while the tubes were removed. She never moved or made a noise. She looked like an angel; peaceful and smiling, always smiling.

China loved everything and everybody. I miss many things about her but most of all her unconditional love. I pray that the vaccine for streptococcus pneumonia will be available for all children by the year 2000 regardless of cost. If it saves one life, it is worth more than any price. We have survived the last year due to an unending amount of love and support form our friends at work and in the community. Thank you to everyone for your continued love and prayers.

And to my China: We will see you soon and thanks for “the dance”.

Love Mommy