November 26, 1991 to October 28, 1998
Jacob Christmas 1997 First I want to tell you a little about my baby and only son. He touched so many lives the six short years he was here on earth with us. Jacob was a very loving, caring, giving, and selfless child. He loved life and people. He had many friends; and he got along well with children of all ages.
My nightmare started on Monday, October 26, 1998, and I had no idea. I woke up and got ready for work. I always woke Jake and his sister, Lacey up at 7:00am. When I went in to the bedroom and woke Jake up he told me that he didn’t feel well. I asked him where he felt bad. He said that his head and stomach hurt. I could tell by looking in his face that he wasn’t feeling well. I could always do that with him. I asked him if he thought he could go to school. He said that he wanted to try. Jake sat up in his bed, and said that his head was “swimming”. I told him that he was staying home.
He was afraid that I would get in trouble by my boss, and I told him not to worry about it because I was staying home with him, and I didn’t care what my boss thought.
I gave him Advil because of his headache throughout the day. I didn’t think too much of him not feeling well because Lacey and I had jut gotten over the Flu. I thought he had the flu too. He laid around most of the day, and slept a lot. He only vomited once. He woke up at 5:00pm and said that he really didn’t feel well. I touched his head, and he was really hot. I couldn’t find my thermometer anywhere, but I knew he was running a temperature. I gave him more Advil, and put him in a lukewarm bath. I stayed in there pouring water over him to cool him down, and talking to him until he told me he wanted to get out of the tub. I got him out, dried him off, and re-dressed him.
I held Jake on the couch, and called my mom to ask her to bring me over a thermometer. He was so hot while I was holding him that he was making me hot. When my mom got there and we took Jake’s temperature is was 104.5. I immediately called the family physician, and told him that I wanted to take Jacob out to the emergency room. He told me that he wasn’t concerned with his temperature being that high. He said that they see that a lot in children. My mom was pointing to Jake’s arm and telling me to “play that up”. See, Jake had been at his father’s over the weekend, and had fallen off his bike. He had a road-rash on his left arm. I told the doctor that I thought it was really infected, and that might be what was causing the high temperature. I was lying to the doctor, but Mom’s do what they have to do when it comes to their children. Anyway, it worked. He gave me the authorization to take Jacob in that I needed for the insurance company to pay for the visit. I was glad it worked, but I was taking Jake in whether the doctor approved it or not.
I took him to the hospital around the corner from our house. When we checked in, Jacob told the lady that his head, and stomach hurt, and that his neck and shoulders were stiff. The triage nurse came out and checked him. She said we would be called back in a little while. We were seen fairly quickly, to my surprise. The nurse came in and took all the information, and then left. She said the doctor would be with us soon.
As we waited for the doctor to come in I asked Jake if he wanted to sing while we were waiting. He said that he wanted to sing ‘Ol’ McDonald Had a Farm’; so we did. The doctor came in and asked us questions. Jacob told her the same thing he had told the lady that checked us in, and the nurse. I didn’t like the doctor at all. She wasn’t pleasant, and she didn’t have a very good bedside manner, but she was there to help my son, and that’s all that mattered.
The doctor had blood drawn on Jake, and the results came back that his white blood cell count (WBC) was 22,040. It should have been between 5,000 and 9,000. That meant there was an infection somewhere, so she ordered tests. She had them do a chest x-ray, urinalysis, strep test, and mono test. Every test came back negative. She diagnosed Jacob with having strep throat. My mom was in the room with me at this time. I asked the doctor how Jake could have strep throat when his throat didn’t hurt, it wasn’t red, and his tonsils weren’t enlarged. She said that his tonsils were enlarged. I told her that he has abnormally enlarged tonsils and that I had been told that since he was born. She gave us a prescription for Zithromax. The doctor said that it was a very strong antibiotic, and to give one teaspoon the first day, and a half a teaspoon for five days. My mom asked her to test for Meningitis, and Encephalitis. The doctor said that she wasn’t concerned about either one of them because Jacob wasn’t “talking out of his head”. The doctor said that Jake could go to school on Thursday. She said that if he wasn’t better by Wednesday to take him to our family doctor. She also said that I could give him Advil every 6 hours, and Ibuprofen every 4 hours to keep the temperature down.
We went to a pharmacy to get the prescription filled, and as we were waiting Jake vomited again. I took him home, gave him the medicine, and put him in my bed. That was something I never allowed, but I wanted him with me in case he started vomiting again. The night was a rough one. Jacob woke up several times, but no more vomiting.
He got up the next morning and said he felt better, but he still didn’t feel well. I gave him the medicine and started the Advil and Ibuprofen back and forth. We had the best day we have ever had together. I let him do things that I wouldn’t have ever let him do before. For example, he hadn’t been eating much of anything the day before, and he wanted lunchmeat for breakfast. I tried to get him to eat some dry cereal, but he wanted lunchmeat, so I let him have it. We played video games all day. He wanted this desert I make, so I made it. Later in the afternoon he said he wanted sloppy joe’s for dinner. As soon as my sister came over to watch him I went to the store and got the things to make it. He didn’t eat very much, but I didn’t care. He went out on the balcony in his little boxers and T-shirt and was showing all his friends the toys my mom had bought him from a garage sell. There were all kinds of gross men, a fake snake and just boy stuff. I told him that he knew the rules. He couldn’t be outside because he didn’t go to school. He put his little hand up and said, “Hold up mom, I’m talking to my buds.” For some odd reason I let him stay out on the balcony and talk to his friends.
At 6:30 he came in and told me that his skull was going to crack. I told him that it was time for another dose of medicine, and gave it to him. He laid in the chair with his blanket, and then moved to the couch. He started whinny, and really acting like his head hurt a lot. I told him to give it some time for the medicine to start working. It hadn’t been 20 minutes yet. I was on the phone talking to a friend of mine that I hadn’t talked to in a long time. She’s a nurse, and I was telling her what was going on. About that time Jake screamed, “Mommy!” I went running into the living room, and he was in the bathroom vomiting. I comforted him, and then cleaned up the mess. At that point I got out my medical assistant book, and looked up the symptoms of Meningitis. I told my friend that I was calling the family doctor even thou the ER doctor said to wait until Wednesday. She said it sounded like Meningitis to her too, and to let her know. I called and got the answering service for the doctor. As I waited for the doctor to call me back, I read up on Meningitis. Jacob 1997-1998 School Picture
When he called me back I told him that I wanted to take Jacob back out to the ER because I thought he had Meningitis. I told him the tests they had done, that everything came back negative, and what the WBC count was. Then I told him all the symptoms Jacob had. He had many of the symptoms of Meningitis now. The doctor said to take him right away.
As I was getting myself and Jake ready to go I made phone calls to my family telling them what was going on and where I was going. We got to the hospital and as we pulled in Jacob said, “I’m not very happy to be here again.” I told him I knew that, but they were going to make him better. Little did I know that I was lying to him. I carried him in the ER because he didn’t want to walk. We checked in with the same lady that we had checked in with the night before. I asked her what doctor was in. She told me the same one that was in last night. I remember telling her that if I knew that, then I would have taken Jacob somewhere else. I told her we were back because he was getting worse, and he wasn’t acting right. I also told her that I thought he had Meningitis. She told me that she had thought the same thing when we checked in the night before. She called back to the triage nurse and told them that she had the same little six-year-old boy that was seen last night, and that I thought he had Meningitis. No one came out this time to check him. We were just told to wait with everyone else to be seen. The waiting room was packed. We waited close to an hour. Poor Jake was vomiting by now every half an hour. I held him and then helped him stand and vomit into the trashcan. He was so embarrassed, and sorry for having to vomit in front of everyone. I just looked around and apologized to everyone. There was nothing we could do. The people waiting said it was okay, that it wasn’t his fault. That made him feel better about it.
After awhile as we waited, Jake didn’t want anyone, or even me to hold him anymore. His color was getting almost gray, and he was acting like he was really tired. They called people back as we waited. Then they called a lady that had checked in after us. So, I went up to the check in desk and told her that we were there first. She said that she knew that, and she was checking on it. About that time a nurse came out and called us back.
It was so busy, that they put us in the cast room, and a nurse came and checked Jake. His temperature was up, and they wanted to give him medicine for this. They ended up have to give him a suppository so he would keep it down. By this time Jake was acting like he was sleeping. I didn’t think anything about it because it was pass his bedtime.
His “real dad”, Gene, must have gotten my message because he showed up. It was my husband Bryan, Gene, and I in the room. My mom and dad were in and out. The room was really small. He was starting to get really hateful, and combative when they would try to do things to him. Jake was also sitting up in bed and making these really high-pitched screams, and then he would throw himself back down on the bed. It was really shocking to me, because he never was like that. When the doctor came in I told her that I thought he had Meningitis. The doctor ordered a CAT Scan. I went with Jake as they did it. He slept through the entire thing. The results came back good. The doctor had finally decided to do the spinal tap. I begged her to let me be in there with him so I could hold his hand while they did it, but she wouldn’t let me. She said that they were going to sedate him because he was so unhappy about them touching him, and we could come back in as soon as the tap was done.
As soon as they were done I went back in. The doctor said that she didn’t know for sure that it was Meningitis, but the spinal fluid did look cloudy, so it was probably Meningitis. We had to wait until the results came back before we would know for sure. I went out to tell my family in the waiting room what the doctor said, and then went back in. Jake said, “Mommy?” I touched his hand and told him that I was right there for him. Gene stayed at his left side. A little while later, Jake sat straight up in bed, and screamed, “Get my Daddy!” That was the last words my angel ever spoke. I went and got Bryan. Bryan touched him and said, “It’s okay Buddy; I’m right here!”
As we waited for the results of the spinal tap, Jake became really combative. To the point that my mom had the nurse put blankets on the bedrails so he didn’t hurt himself. For as sick as he was, and as little as he was, he was very strong. At times, it took me, Bryan, and Gene to hold him down so he wouldn’t hurt himself.
They had put Jake on oxygen, along with monitors and a blood pressure cuff. The doctor told us that she wanted to transport Jacob down to St. Vincent’s Pediatric ICU, and the head of the ICU, Dr. Williams would take care of him down there. She had been talking to Dr. Williams down there. She called for an ambulance, and prepared Jake for transport. He was fighting, kicking, slashing, and screaming that high-pitched scream. It seemed liked we waited forever for the ambulance to get there. Jake had pulled his oxygen mask off, and the doctor said he could leave it off because he had a good oxygen level. Right before the ambulance got there the spinal tap results came back that it was Meningitis. We wouldn’t know what type until some more tests came back. All we knew was it was Bacterial Meningitis. Doctor Williams gave the ER doctor instructions on what type of medicine to push through Jacob’s IV before she transferred Jake down to him.
I rode with Jacob in the ambulance. I kept talking to him, but he was asleep by now. I remember asking the medic in back with me if they had him restrained because he wasn’t fighting anymore. He said that they had him strapped in, but he wasn’t restrained. I thought this was a good thing. I looked down at Jacob, and he was pulling his arms up towards his body. I asked the medic if Jake was posturing. He looked at me and said that Jake wasn’t posturing, but I needed to help keep his right arm straight so the IV wasn’t cut off. Looking back on it, the medic lied to me, but I understand why he did. There wasn’t anything that he could do for Jacob, but get him down to the other hospital, and he didn’t need a hysterical mother in the back with him.
I was so glad we were going to St. Vincent. They could give him medicine, and make him better so we could go home. It’s a very good hospital and all the doctors and nurses know what they are doing. Everything was going to be just fine now; or so I thought.
When we got to St. Vincent, they rushed Jake into a room, and several people went in there with him. I meet up with my family. We were instructed to wait in the waiting room, and the doctor would come out and talk to us as soon as he could. I stood at the window and watched as they worked on Jacob, but they closed the blinds, and told me to go have a seat.
I waited in the hall instead of in the waiting room. I just couldn’t sit still. After awhile, the doctor came out, but he didn’t come to us. He made a phone call to a Pediatric Neurosurgeon. That’s when I got scared that things must be really bad, but I was sure they weren’t. They were just taking precautions, and who knew what their procedures were.
The doctor finally came out, and took Gene and me into a private room. He told us that Jacob was a very sick little boy. He was extremely unstable when he had gotten there, and that’s why it took him so long to talk to us. He apologized over and over for it taking so long to update us, but he said he had to stabilize Jake first. He told us that he had to put Jake on a respirator because his breathing was so bad. He said it was breathing for him now. He told us that Jake was posturing, and his pupils were dilated and fixed, and that Jake was in a coma. He said Jake was very sick, and he didn’t think that Jacob was going to make it. He told us that he had called a neurosurgeon in to look at Jake. He would keep us updated, but it didn’t look good, and the next 12 hours were the most crucial. I told Dr. Williams that Jacob wasn’t in a coma, it was the medicine they had given him at the other hospital. He said Jake would never be the same. I told him that was okay; I would take him anyway I could. I looked at the doctor and told him that he was wrong.
Jake was going to pull through this, and Jacob was going to be his miracle. He looked at me, and told me he hoped I was right, but it didn’t look good. He would know more once the neurosurgeon examined Jacob.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. He was just talking to me not too long ago. What was going on? They just needed to fix him so we could go home.
After the neurosurgeon examined Jake, he came out and told us basically the same things the Dr. Williams said. He added that they were going to put a probe in Jacob’s head to measure the pressure in his head. Once they got this done, then we could go in and see Jake. In fact, they encouraged us to talk to him, and stay as long as we wanted.
At 1:45am while I waited to be able to see Jacob, God told me he was going to take Jacob. This is something that I can’t really explain. All I can say is that it was this feeling that came over me, and my whole body warmed from my head to my feet. I just knew what was going to happen. I wanted so badly to be wrong. At this point I took Bryan and Gene into a room and closed the door. I told them that I hadn’t given up hope, but if something was to happen that Jake didn’t pull through that I wanted to make him a donor. Neither one of them said much, nor did they even question me. They just looked at me and said, “Okay.”
We all took turns going into Jake’s room to talk to him, and beg him to hold on and get better. There wasn’t a time that Jake didn’t have at least one person in his room with him.
At some point Dr. Williams’ shift was over, and Dr. Sichting took over. She was just as good as Dr. Williams. That was okay, now Jacob could be her miracle. Jacob also had his own nurse, Shelly.
She was wonderful too. The fight to save my angel’s life went on another 14 hours and 45 minutes.
Sometime in the afternoon Dr. Sichting told us that she thought Jacob was brain dead because he wasn’t responding to anything that he should be responding to. She had ordered another CAT scan, and when she had the results back she would tell us. The scan didn’t come back good. The swelling was causing the blood supply to be restricted to the brain.
The hospital staff was doing everything they could, but they couldn’t get the pressure to come down in Jake’s head. His pressure was running 90, and it should have been 10. I went in and talked to Jake. I said the hardest thing I have ever had to say to anyone. I told my baby angel that it was okay to let go. That was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. As badly as I wanted him to hang on and get better, I decided that it was time to stop being selfish and begging him to hold on and fight.
Sometime after 4:00pm, the doctor made Gene and me go in Jake’s room and watch as they did the tests to prove that my baby was legally brain dead. That was the worse thing I have ever had to watch, and I still have flash backs of that everyday. At 4:30pm, the doctor pronounced my baby angel brain dead.
After I pulled myself together a little bit, Dr. Sichting told me that it was time to take Jacob off the machines. I told her it wasn’t her choice, it was mine. She looked at me with such sympathy said, “No, it’s not.” I begged her and Shelly to please save him, but the fight was over.
I crawled in bed with him and hold him. I rocked him and sang to him my favorite song that I had sung to both of my children since they were babies. I sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’. I also got to hold him one more time after the surgery was done to remove the organs that they could use from Jake.
My nightmare will never end. Jacob is missed so badly by everyone. There’s so many questions that I will never have answered. Sometimes I have no idea how I am going to make it through the day. I fight a battle each and every day, and the worse part is there is no light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what anyone does, my baby is gone, and will be forever.
There are no words to describe the horror of standing there watching your baby dying, and there is nothing you can do. The only thing I could do was tell Jake that it was okay to let go, and go with God.
You are missed and loved very much Jacob. You are in all of our hearts, and always will be. You are still my sunshine.
With all our love,
Mommy, Daddy, Lacey, Mamo, Grandpa Bob, Jamie, Jody, Joanie, Jimmy