On Thursday, August 30, 2018, Sue was rushed to the Emergency Room after having symptoms of headache, stiff neck, and temperatures over 103.5. The doctor’s in the ER ran blood and urine tests but everything came back negative. Sue was sent home and prescribed a regular dose of Tylenol with temperature checks. Over the next two days, Sue’s motor functions began to decline and she became increasingly confused. Upon her second visit to the ER, doctors ran the same tests as before with the same negative results. As a last resort the doctors performed a spinal tap. The test results showed she had meningitis. Sue was immediately admitted to the ICU, given multiple antibiotics, and her test samples were sent to the lab to specify the type of meningitis. She would remain asleep for five days.
All bacterial, viral, and fungal meningitis tests came back negative, and she was said to have had aseptic meningitis. After two weeks, test samples for insect borne illness came back and it was confirmed Sue had West Nile Meningoencephalitis
. There is no cure or vaccine for West Nile.
Most people who become infected with West Nile Virus through mosquitos have few or no symptoms. About 20% of people have symptoms such as high fever, rash, vomiting, and headache. Only about 1% of people have severe symptoms such as severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, and encephalitis or meningitis which is swelling and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Many people can go through their days without having to worry about being infected. However, if an individual has a suppressed immune system, they may have a more serious reaction.
Sue is a talented seamstress who until recently owned John’s Shoe Service and Tailoring with her late husband Joe, who suddenly passed away at home this past February. Sue was still grieving for the loss when she became ill. She spent her days active at work, tending to her garden, sewing, walking her German Shepherd, and spending time with her beloved grandson and family.
Sue has now moved from the hospital to inpatient traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. Since West Nile affects motor skills she will need extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy. She will need to relearn things most people take for granted like brushing her teeth and hair, doing the dishes, writing, and walking. When recovering from a traumatic brain injury small tasks tire you out easily, even practicing swallowing.
Sue is making progress every day, but even the smallest progressions take time. Even when Sue is finally discharged, which could take several months, the real test of her rehabilitation happens at home. This could mean more outpatient physical therapy, or even refurnishing the house or bathroom to better accommodate long term disability. Many have heard about cases of West Nile virus, but never would expect to see how a mosquito bite could turn someone’s life upside down.
Sue has relied on God to get her through and we know that he will not give her or her family more than they can handle and all things will workout for the best. We, her family, would love to see Sue once again harvesting her garden, taking Caesar for long walks, and hemming slacks and dresses again. All this can be accomplished with time, resources, your donations, and many prayers. We would appreciate any donation you could put forth to ease the burden.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
Thank you in advance for the prayers and donations,
Sue and family