A Survivor's Story
July 9th 2005
Source: US Dept Agriculture
On a sunny April morning back in
1999, I sat down at my desk for the last time in the local Engineering
Department. I had been trying to shake a minor headache all morning.
Finally, I told my co-workers that I’d have to go home. That’s the last
thing I remember for the next four weeks. I don’t recall driving home.
I don’t recall being miserable to my family for the following two days.
And I don’t recall my own husband taking me to our local hospital’s
emergency room, and telling them, “something isn’t right about Wendy.”
I was diagnosed with encephalitis… inflammation of the brain. I was
whisked into treatment, and my life was saved.
Once I came home, my parents were
babysitting me daily, as my husband went to work and our children went
to school. On that first morning home, I was seeking a spoon to stir my
coffee. I went searching through a pile of newspapers, asked the dog,
and then looked in the freezer. No spoon. As I was heading outdoors in
the rain to search the backyard for a spoon, my mother had to show me
where the spoons were kept… in my own kitchen drawer. Another time, I
found a plastic box on the coffee table. It had flexible buttons with
words and numbers, and a tiny red light. I was fascinated… I’d never
SEEN such a toy! I asked my Dad, “What IS this thing?” He responded,
“That’s your television’s remote control, sweetie.” These were each
just pieces of knowledge that I had to re-learn.
And now? Six years post encephalitis? Now, I am a 50 year old woman,
with the brain of a 90 year old woman. I am now legally disabled. I
forget things. I get flustered. I get confused. I tire easily. My
life is typical of any encephalitis survivor.
For so very long, society has been looking at the fatality count of
West Nile virus, and pooh-poohing. Some media shouted that ‘even
influenza has a higher annual fatality count than that!’ Now, we’re
taking notice of the details. In October 2004, a United States CDC
status report stated, "So far in 2004, there
have been a total of 1,951 cases of West Nile disease overall,
including 720 cases or about 37 percent with neuroinvasive disease”.
That’s 720 people, who’s lives have now been changed, forever.
And that’s just in 2004! Now, let’s not forget about the other
mosquito-borne types of encephalitis, including eastern equine, western
equine, St. Louis encephalitis, La Crosse. They’ve been happening,
quietly, for a long, long time. West Nile’s only the new kid on the
parent in Menifee California sent me the following story… Lauren
was 13 yrs old when she became sick, last August 2004. She was
complaining of a headache and within hours her speech slurred and she
had left sided weakness. It took a week for the diagnosis of E to come
back, and then another 2 weeks for positive on West Nile. It has been
almost 9 months and she still can't talk, swallow or walk. She is like a
newborn baby. Can't even hold her own head up. Her neurologist pretty
much says she won't get much better from here on.
This past October, Congress paid for all expenses for myself and my
husband to visit Washington DC, where I testified on the topic of West
Nile. I did also speak at the annual general meeting of the American
Mosquito Control Association. The key to raising awareness is to share
information. Society must
focus on reducing the mosquito population, and
recognize the impact of mosquito borne encephalitis
such as West Nile.
Like a seatbelt in a car, these are not steps to be taken with loud and
dramatic panic, but with education, self respect and motivation to
protect our loved ones and ourselves.
Encephalitis Conference 2005
Wendy Station, President
Encephalitis Global, Inc.
Keywords and misspellings: viris nill simptoms