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A Survivor's Story

July 9th 2005

Asian Tiger Mosquito
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 block.

A 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.

Related Story: West Nile Virus Symptoms 
                      Encephalitis Conference 2005


Wendy Station, President
Encephalitis Global, Inc.
www.encephalitisglobal.com

 

  Keywords and misspellings:  viris nill simptoms


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM