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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memory Monday-----The First Time I Thought That I Was Going To Die

The summer after I turned five was a big one for me. I was excited to be going to Kindergarten in the fall, and feeling like a really big girl. I hadn't been to preschool, as back then no one really went to preschool----in fact I'm not sure that they even had preschools. We were just doing good to go to Kindergarten. I think that some kids didn't even start until first grade. Yeah, go figure, and we all managed to get this far in life without that early schooling.

But that summer was a huge deal, as I got sick. I guess that I probably got a sore throat first. I don't remember the particulars, but apparently my parents didn't think that I was sick enough for the doctor, so they didn't take me.

I eventually got a fever----a really high one, and they couldn't get it to go down.

So, they finally took me to the doctor. I do remember a bit about this time of my life. I never got sick, and we didn't go to the doctor hardly ever, so this was a big thing for us. I was scared, but I felt so bad, was tired all the time and my head and throat hurt.

At the doctors office, they checked me out, poked, prodded me and then they took blood. And they took more blood. Then we went home.

The next day, the doctor called my Mom and told her to bring me in. I still felt horrible, and it was an effort to get me ready to go, but we went back in. They talked to my Mom, took more blood, and then gave me a shot.

I didn't really understand at the time what I had. My parents told me that I had rheumatic fever, and that it was very dangerous, and that I had to get shots and take medicine or I could die. They told me that I HAD to stay in bed and sleep a lot and don't try to play, as I HAD to get better.

It was a very scary time for me. All I could think of was that I really wanted to be able to go to school in the fall, but maybe I would die and not be able to go to school! I was also supposed to be a flower girl for my Aunts wedding. My Mom had made a beautiful lavender dress, with a chiffon type material overlay----with lace on all the edges. It was an amazing dress and I remember crying when I was told that I couldn't be in the wedding. It just didn't seem fair.

I didn't understand how I could be so sick, and why wouldn't I get better by then?

I don't know if you know very much about rheumatic fever. It is basically a disease that starts when you have strep throat and you don't go on antibiotics----and after about two weeks, the bacteria starts to affect your heart, joints and muscles. The result is scarring of the heart valves, leaving you with a heart murmur.

But this all takes a while to go through. It isn't over in a week. It isn't over in a month. It isn't over in two months.

No, it takes about three months until one gets over rheumatic fever. And the effect that it has on your body is terrible during this time. The first few weeks aren't too bad, except you have a fever for quite a while and your joints feel a bit achy. But as the disease starts to affect your muscles, you are no longer able to use them. My parents used to carry me into their bed every morning for the day. This was where the TV was, so I could watch some TV shows during the day. I think that I watched a lot of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

And I had to go to the doctor every day. Well, I am not sure if it was every day, but it felt like it. So I would go get my shot each morning, but they had to get me dressed, and get me ready, as I eventually couldn't sit up or walk or anything----then for some reason----I don't know why---but I remember laying on the floor of the living room as I waited for everyone to get ready and out the door. And I remember crying. Crying because I couldn't move, and because I didn't understand what was happening to me and I didn't like to get the shots. I hated the shots. And the blood work. I hated the blood work. They would take blood each time and then give me a shot in the other arm. Then, in the afternoon, a nurse that lived across the street would come over and give me a shot in my bottom.

I still remember thinking that they were taking all of my blood out. I thought that this was the reason that I couldn't move, because they took too much blood out. It was traumatic, to say the least. And I also kept wondering if I was going to die. I don't believe that they explained it very well to me, as it was probably a bit of an unknown then, and......well,.....one just didn't talk about those things to young children. (To this day, I can't watch when someone takes my blood or gives me a shot, it really bothers me.)

So......you probably guessed what they were giving me, ladies and gentlemen------it was penicillin. It was the new wonder drug and they gave me a lot, as I feel that they weren't sure how much would get rid of this terrible disease. So, I basically got two shots of penicillin a day.


Now, one of the other traumatic things that have to do with not being able to move or walk is that I wasn't able to even go to the bathroom by myself. I remember being so embarrassed because my Dad would have to take me to the bathroom in the morning before he left, and then when he got home. I don't remember my Mom carrying me. I also don't remember having to be bathed, but I think that my Mom just gave me "sponge" baths.

I do remember my Mom having to wait on me, bringing me every meal, and trying to keep me entertained. My little brother, Jeff, was about two years old, so this couldn't have been easy for her----watching a toddler and taking care of me, as well as my older sister, Janene----who was only seven.

I know that I wasn't very happy at this time in my life. I cried quite a bit, (well, that's understandable) as I slowly began to heal. And by the third month, I was able to start moving my limbs, and slowly but surely, I got better. I did end up having to start school late, so I wasn't very happy about that.

Of course, I eventually returned to my normal self----and went back to having my usual adventures----of which I will continue to share with you. I had to take penicillin, two times a day, until I was about 16.


Here I am, getting my hair done for church, several months after I got better (yes, that is the old-fashioned way to dry your hair!)----note my parents bed behind me----
I spent a lot of time there.

Here I am at 5 years old, the Christmas after my illness. Don't you love the dress?


Now you can see how this incident was the first time that I thought that I was going to die.


You'll have to wait until the next installment to read about the second one.....

32 comments:

Kristina P. said...

How scary! Rheumatic fever isn't really around anymore, right?

The Stylish House said...

Shawn,
What an ordeal to go through at such a young age. It is amazing to think how far medicine has advanced, but still has so far to go. I often think how much money, time and resources we could be using in positive ways if we did not have war or crime. I think this was your best post I have read so far, but it is a close call with your last post. Well done. ~Cathy~

Mrs. Organic said...

Yes, you can still get it, but it's treated differently now.

Wow, Shawn what a scary experience for a 5 year old to go through (and I'll bet your mom was worried sick, too). Did your heart suffer any long-term damage?

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

What on earth did all that penniciliin do to you? You must have had thousands of shots.

SO said...

Wow how scary for you and your family! I can't even imagine. I'm glad you made it through.

Shawn said...

I had no clue it was so serious. I really knew nothing about R.Fever. You poor thing!

susette said...

I'm so impressed with your keen sense of memories, and the beautiful way you share your stories! I guess that's why we are told to write in our journals and write our history while we are young, before the memories fade.

That seems so crazy that you had to have medicine until age 16??

dapper kid said...

What a scary thing to go through. I am glad you managed to recover and cope even when things were bad. I think the only way you can look at an experience like that, is as something you went through to make you an even better and stronger person.

I was actually born with a disease which was left undiagnosed until my early teens, despite my mother continually taking me to the doctors and hospital. They would turn us back every time, until one year when I was hospitalised as a result. I missed a lot of school, and have been trying to recover ever since. I even had to drop out of university this year, after it flaired up badly at the beginning of last year. I am apparently a rare case, in that it has been years and I have not got it under control. But I guess it is just a test that will hopefully make me a better person!

Oh, and I gave you an award :)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

K that is REALLY scary... especially for a 5 year old. Or someone about to go into Kindergarten!

But for your parents also... I can't imagine!!!

BTW--that Dream song is ONE of my favorites!

Melissa said...

Okay, SO scary for a little girl! And now as a parent, I can only imagine how your mom and dad felt!

Thanks goodness for modern medicine.....

Great memory

Rachel said...

Oh snap! I'm glad you made it. :)

Days of Whine & Noses said...

that's awful!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I'm following yours now.

Planning to attend the Sitscation in Vegas, are you????

Kristin said...

What a scary thing for a little one to have to go through!

zelzee said...

You are right, back then they didn't talk to kids about these things. So, you were scared and no one would explain anything to you!!!

By the way.........
Is that how you got so gorgeous? Penicillin?

Courtney said...

Wow! That sounds scary! Especially for you to have been so young when it happened! I'm glad you got through it! Wondering what the second installment will bring... ???

carma said...

Not one, but two times- that's horrible! Glad to hear you didn't suffer any permanent damage from the illness. BTW, I left a note on my blog: I'm not really as superskinny as it looks in the video- my son had it set on wide angle by mistake-- very slimming!

Karen said...

That is so scary! I can't even imagine that!

The first time I thought I was going to die wasn't until after high school. I'll have to share that story sometime.

Angela said...

This is insane- I didn't even know people still got that....waiting patiently for the next install!

Avery Tales said...

Thanks for visiting my little corner of the blog world.

What a scary time and how amazing that you remember so many details. I'm glad you didn't die! I look forward to reading more.

Megg said...

I think I remember the second time. I will keep quiet though :)

Debbie said...

That must have been terrifying to you. My mom had it as a small child and her older sister blamed every illness my mother ever had on that!

Underdogs Unite said...

Now THAT is an interesting story. You poor thing - and your poor parents. That must have been terrifying.

Oh - and I finally made good on that Underdog Award. Check it out:

http://underdogsunite.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-underdog-shout-out-award-best-ex.html

carma said...

Thank you so much for voting! It means a lot to me :-)

Wifey said...

Wow. What an interesting story. I'm glad you are hear to share it! Your pictures are priceless.

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

wenderful said...

Wow! Very scary. A fellow friend and blogger of mine got that last year and it damaged her heart. Thankfully she made it through. Glad you did too.

Mormon Mommy Blogs said...

Hey you!

You have been nominated for the June Blog spotlight. Get your peeps over there to vote!

~motherboard, mmb

Andie said...

Hey, another shoe loving, Brimfield going, Mormon blogging mother in New England! Thanks for stopping by. Let's keep in touch!

KC Mom said...

I think you and I could relate well...I had a similar story in my life as a child.
I stopped by from MMB today...loved your blog and your music was so soothing....so I hung out for awhile...

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Hi, congrats from a fellow MMB nominee. It was fun to come over and look around. Looks like a very fun blogstop. :)

Jewels said...

Dude...that would be terrifying. You brave little thing! My heart just aches, especially hearing about you laying on the floor crying. My heart also goes out to your sweet Mother, I'm sure she was so scared, too. It's never easy to see your kids sick - and to be sick for 3 months!! I can't even imagine...what a scary thing to go through. Glad you made it through!

Mama Nut said...

I have always been pretty healthy, but it saddens me to hear about other children who aren't so lucky. I am so glad that you got over it and were able to grown into a beautiful woman.

Take care!

Coming from MMB

Anna See said...

Wow! What a terrifying time for such a little girl. My little girl got scarlet fever last year and i was shocked.

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