Kelly L. Madison

KellyMadisonPhoenix, Arizona
Past MFA National President
1998 was a year I don’t think I will ever forget. I had recently changed jobs and was settling into my new position when I started to notice I was experiencing a ‘head rush’ when I would stand up after sitting for awhile. It was a rush that made my head pound and the rush of blood in my ears was scarily loud. I would sit back down and in about five minutes, it would subside. I thought at first that the new stress of the new job was affecting me and I started watching how much soda & iced tea I drank, thinking it was maybe the caffeine affecting me.

Then, one morning, I woke up and I had numbness on the right side of my face and neck. I had a friend of my family who had Bells Palsy before so I went to the bathroom to see if my face was drooping and it was not but the numbness was very strange. Then, a huge wave of nausea enveloped me and I threw up like I had never done before. The numbness stopped but my fiancée told me to call my doctor and we went that morning to visit them. They did an EKG and after the visit, I was sent home. They were concerned but unsure what was the matter with me. They were not the only ones who were unsure what was the matter with me.

My ordeal continued with being in and out of emergency rooms and urgent care facilities over the next 30 days. I was forced to quit working, as I was too ill to function. I was given tests for many different things. What no one could understand was that I could no longer function. All I could do was lay in agony as my head felt like it was in a vice and it came to the point where eating was no longer enjoyable because the nausea was so awful, I would vomit at least 2-3 times a day.

On the morning of March 14, 1998, my fiancé tried to wake me up and he had a difficult time doing so. I only have small segments of this day in my memory so this portion has come from my husband’s recollection of the series of events. My husband said that I was not lucid and extremely lethargic. Being scared I had a stroke, he called 911 and I was transported to Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa.

After signing all of the releases, my fiancé allowed the hospital staff to conduct the spinal tap to determine why I was in the shape I was in. The results of this tap was not disclosed to my husband nor myself when I was discharged from the hospital later that afternoon without a diagnosis. I was told to make an appointment with a Neurologist. I did and was to meet him four days later. This was Monday.

On Friday, at 5pm, I met my Neurologist who reviewed my file and re-examined me only to determine the ER team was on the wrong track and that I had viral meningitis and was still quite sick. So, that Friday night, I was checked back into Desert Samaritan Hospital (yes, the same hospital where I had been four days earlier) and stayed until the following Monday having many tests run and to undergo hydration therapy. After the hospitalization, my ordeal was far from over but at that point, I was so grateful it was not cancer or terminal, I hoped that with time I’d get better. I found I had a new lease on life and one of the first things I did once out of the hospital, I married my husband Ron.

Ron stood by me at a time when I needed him most and his complete support told me that we were right together. We married in Las Vegas on April 1, 1998. After close to four months of recovery, I did get better but it was a long, frustrating road. I had good days & I had bad days. One of my good days was the day I found the Meningitis Foundation of America’s web site and spoke with people who understood what I was going through. It was very important to me to repay that kindness and to become part of MFA as a volunteer.
I have learned a great deal about how quick the things you take for granted can be taken away and since then have tried to do as much as possible to live my life to the fullest. My hope is that one day I can say I had a hand in making this terrible illness disappear. At least while I am around, I am certainly going to do everything in my power to make that happen. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be the National President of the Meningitis Foundation of America until November 2012. The people I have encountered while doing this work has brought something to my life that I could never replace.

Sherry White commented 1 year ago
17 days ago I got what I thought was a bad migraine. I had never had nausua before with them but I did this time. The sick stomach is gone but over the 17 days I have had the same blood rushing headache which lasted 9 hours. I couldnt move. Slept with my, bra on, makeup on that night. Because one inch of movement and I felt like my head would explode. Ive had numbness in my face and scalp. Also extreme pins and needles in the heels of my feet. Very dizzy, lightheaded, tiredand stiff neck. Er did a cat scan and it cake back ok. I dont want to be a.hypochondriac but I have 2 little boys to take care of and need to be here for.them. I pray that you read this and offer me some friendly guidance.