Passed Away April 6, 1998
Hi, my name is Pam and I am 44 years old. I have a 17-year-old daughter named Christina. A wonderful daughter I might add. I want to take a few minutes to share with everyone how drastically our lives have changed because of encephalitis
On March 11, 1998 my husband Randy (45 years old) came home from work with a headache. The following day, March 12th, he called his job and reported he would not be coming because of illness. All day long he just stayed in bed taking Tylenol every four hours for the bad headache he had. He would wake up and try to eat a little bit but he certainly wasn’t getting any better. The following morning, March 13th he woke up with full blown flu symptoms. I called the doctor and had Randy at the office at 12:00 p.m. The doctor looked at him, never touching him and said he had Influenza B. The doctor gave Randy a shot for vomiting and sent him home. Five hours later, Randy was worse, his headache was unreal, the fever was up and the vomiting did not stop. So, I took Randy to our local hospital.
The first doctor that saw Randy was waiting on a throat test to come back and was going to send him home. Thank god this doctor got off work before the test was done. Another doctor replaced the first doctor and discovered Randy could not put his chin to his chest. A spinal tap was done and showed Randy had viral meningitis. This was a Thursday night, and he was admitted into the hospital. They started him on acyclovir. The following day, which was a Friday (March 14th), Randy started talking incoherently and I would get lost trying to follow his conversation. I asked the doctor what was wrong with Randy and he said it was a side effect of the medicine. The following day (March 15th) Randy’s speech got worse but the doctor still insisted it was the medicine. So, as Randy’s wife and not having a medical background, I went along with the doctor’s diagnosis.
By Saturday (March 16th), Randy was to ill to be left alone. He thought he was back in the Marine Corps and I was to stay at his mom’s. After sixteen years of marriage he asked me if I had any brothers or sisters. I was very concerned as I saw his condition getting worse. Needless to say, I paged the doctor that night but he never returned my call.
The next day when the doctor came in and took a look at Randy he said “I don’t think this is the medicine.” I called my daughter’s neurologist. Our personal God, and she said “get him out of that hospital”. She had Randy transferred to George Washington University Hospital located in Washington, D.C. on March 17, 1998.
The next day, March 18th at 2:30a.m. the hospital called to ask if Randy could be put on a respirator. I of course said yes, anything to help him.
On March 19th Randy had a stroke. Through much testing, it was discovered that Randy had encephalitis. As bad has he looked the doctors said “people have survived in worse condition then this”.
On March 20th Randy went into a coma. From that point on, the following things happened to Randy:
He developed a blood clot on a lung.
Both lungs collapsed and could not be repaired.
A series of test were done which revealed the infection had attacked the part of his brain stem that controlled Randy’s breathing and the ability to wake up from his coma.
Randy stayed in the hospital from March 17 to April 6, 1998. After speaking to the doctors, and realizing that everything possible had been done for him, I had to finally agree to let him go. He had fought so long and so hard.
I told our daughter (Daddy’s little girl) what had to be done. This was on April fools day. As I entered the hospital, all the doctors approached me to say, this is not a good time because for some reason Randy had opened his eyes. A neurological test that was done to Randy’s foot (shock) turned out better then before. Yes, we thought our prayers had been answered but this was only for a day and all was back to were it was 2 days before. So, after another series of tests to confirm the condition of Randy, the doctors said word for word “this is what you get”. Our next step was a tracheotomy and I guess a nursing home.
I had to do the right thing , not for us who are left behind but for Randy. On April the 6th, 1998 the life support was removed from Randy and he went off to the other side peacefully with that precious grin on his face. Randy is deeply missed by Christina and I, as well as my family and his Mom and Dad and their family and many friends.
About our Family
Randy and I were married on Valentines Day in 1982. We had dated since 1980. And our daughter was born June 24, 1982. Things started off very hard. Christina was born with hydrocephalic (fluid on the brain). Christina had surgery at only 5 days old and again at 9 months old, then again at 10 years old. Randy was my backbone and strength and Christina’s courage in these hard times. Randy worked for the Department of Justice for 25 years. He designed space for the immigration department and a good job he did. Randy coached little league baseball for a local team for 5 years and one year he coached an all-star team. He loved his Family and Harley very much and was a lot of fun and laughter. Christina and I are doing okay, we have good days and bad ones. We do have each other and we do the things that we did with Randy knowing Randy would want us to do, just as though he were here. Randy is gone but will never be forgotten in our lives.
I need to add this to my letter.
I felt very confident with the doctors at George Washington Hospital but at the same time, all I heard was how rare this illness was. I believed them until I started reading on the internet. This is not rare, it is just un researched and rarely reported. I felt a lot of guessing was going on which is all the doctors can do until they learn more from research. I am convinced there is not enough research done on this disease, and the public needs to send their stories to their congressmen and senators and request that funds be provided for this research and all cases be reported to show this is not a RARE disease. We need to join together and attack them with letters the way this so called rare disease attacks people and drastically changes so many lives.
WE LOVE & MISS YOU DADDY
YOUR WIFE PAM AND YOUR LITTLE GIRL CHRISTINA ROSE