|In Loving Memory
Of Aaron Mart
Sept. 24 '96-Sept. 11 '99
|Like most of us I never thought it could happen to us. But it did!!
I thought I had some kind of magical protection. You see I knew all about Meningitis. I spent the last year '98-'99 in England. The awareness there is so much higher than here.
While there I became very good friends with a lady whose 6 year old daughter had died of meningitis. I vowed I would not let this happen to my children. When we moved to Florida in July of '99 the first thing to go on my fridge was my meningitis symptoms card. My protection!!!
Life was good, my husband returned from a year's military assignment to Korea. Our other son Daniel was enjoying his new school. We had bought a house and decided this would be our last move. I wanted the boys to have roots and a place to call "home". Weeks passed as we enjoyed being a family again. Aaron seemed so happy and settled. I loved being with him, we had survived the "terrible twos". We were planning a special trip to Sea World for Aaron's 3rd. birthday. A day we would never get to celebrate.
Saturday Sept., 11 started the same as any other. At around 9 a.m. I was on the phone when Aaron said his shoulder hurt and he had a headache. He climbed into his bed. Worried I went to check on him. Aaron getting in his bed and laying quietly was not normal. His temperature began to rise and he vomited. I laid with him, something he usually liked and he didn't want that. His temperature had risen to 103 F. I was getting very worried, so I got the symptoms card and with a sinking heart checked off symptoms. We called the local base hospital. As we hadn't yet transferred our insurance, they said to bring him in there.
Aaron was really lethargic, he was complaining that his shoulder and leg hurt, and his temperature was still high. I was trying to stay calm. At the hospital I told the admitting nurse each symptom and said I was worried that it was meningitis. When I told him about Aaron's joints aching he said general aches. I said, no his joints hurt!
We went in to see the doctor. Again, I said Meningitis. He did a general examination. I told him of my friends daughter, again telling him I was worried it might be meningitis. He had Aaron walk across the room, said something about it being a universal motor skill. He ordered blood tests and a chest x-ray, for pneumonia. Aaron just laid quietly throughout, he still did not want to be held. He was given an oral and suppository of Motrin.
The doctor kept calling the lab for the blood test results. I don't know why he was in such a hurry, the place wasn't busy. When the results came back he gave me a bottle of Motrin, told us it was a virus and to come back in three days. I was so relieved to hear it was not meningitis, I even asked the doc again to be sure. We later learned the white count had been elevated.
We left the hospital and got the boys something to eat. Aaron ate a little and seemed a bit perkier. On the way home he vomited again, a thick orange substance. I thought it was because of the Motrin and orange drink that he had. Once home, Aaron laid on the couch. Drifting in and out of sleep. I wasn't too worried as his temperature was still down. After all the doctor had said a virus- right!
As the evening wore on, I again started to worry. He was still vomiting occasionally but was able to drink water. The fear started to set in when he had a.b.m. and didn't seem to notice. I cleaned him up. Then I noticed a bruise on his neck, not a pinprick rash a bruise. It couldn't be, could it?
My husband called the base and they gave us another number to call. He called this and while we were waiting for the return call (which never came). Aaron again had a b.m. This time when I went to clean him there was the rash in his groin area.
That was it, we woke up our other son and went to the local E.R. Aaron whimpered quietly on the drive. I carried him in, so limp. All I had to do was move the sheet and show the bruise on his neck. We were rushed through immediately. I laid Aaron gently on the bed, keeping hold of his hand. That was the last time I saw him alive.
There was pandemonium as nurses and doctors surrounded the bed, swooping down on Aaron from every side. I was taken out then. I remember my legs almost gave way and my husband supporting me as they led us to a side room. We couldn't take it in. I just kept telling myself "Ok this is serious Aaron's going to be here awhile, as soon as they get him stable, I'll have Hank take Daniel back home, they can bring my things by in the morning."
The admitting nurse came in several times using such words as incubate and critical. Was there someone we wanted to call? I couldn't absorb what he was saying. No we don't know anyone here! Then he asked again and we started to realize just how bad things were. Hank called his Mum who lives 50 minutes away.
They wanted one of us to go to see Aaron, to show us that they were doing all they could I guess. I wish I had had the strength to go. My husband went, when he came back he was devastated. What he saw will always haunt him, tubes machines, people giving Aaron C.P.R.
It felt like an eternity sitting in that room, reassuring Daniel that it would all be ok. How wrong I was. Before Hank's Mum could get there, the doctor came in to tell us that Aaron had passed away. "No, of course he hadn't you're wrong". Then the screams from Daniel. Be strong, stay calm. I was in a daze, trying to comfort Daniel, calm him down, poor Daniel so much pain.
I was taken to see Aaron, there he lay wrapped in a white sheet, so quiet, he looked like he was sleeping until I touched him, so cold. They gave me a mask to wear, to protect me! I didn't need protecting from my child, I'd been kissing him, hugging him cleaning him all day. I took off the mask and kissed my baby, laid my head on his and told him how sorry I was. I'd failed my son, let him down when he needed me most.
The doctor came and talked with us, I have no idea what she said. I just remember asking over and over why the earlier doctor hadn't believed me, why didn't he know? I'd known it was meningitis, but I'd been so quick to accept the doctors words.
Hank's Mum arrived, seeing her pain, hearing her cry. How had this happened. Just this morning life was great.
We had to go home without our baby boy. As soon as I got in I called my Mum and best friend in England. I don't know what I said. I just remember their tears. Finally, the house was quiet, Mimi had gone home, Hank and Daniel slept. I could not close my eyes, I couldn't leave Aaron. Couldn't wake up to him not here.
It has been almost five months, and I now know it's true, he's not here. I truly believe that Aaron died not just from meningitis but also from ignorance. We have to get the message out. This is real, it is killing and maiming our children. I thought I was protected because I knew the symptoms. That only helps if the doctors know them too.
A Message from Tanja Theraiult
Many children have died because of doctors lack to to take parents seriously. Aaron's mom explained to the doctor that her son most likely had meningitis. All the doctor had to do was give Aaron a test for that certain illness and get him on IVs. Sadly Aaron was not given that chance and now a family has been ripped a part. Will they stick together and grieve? Of course they will, but that sunshine, that joy of their heart was taken away because of a miss diagnose. My deepest prayers go out to the familes that know the pain of Aaron's family. It brings me to tears. Aaron's mom took the strength she c ould to write this in hopes that this will not happen again. If a doctor see this, LISTEN to what the parents are saying, they know their children and how they react to a general virus. And to Aaron, keep running through Heaven's meadows, no more pain you bare. We know that your arms are forever wrapped around your family.