It’s now time to share a few facts about the illness that unexpectedly showed up that one December day twenty-eight years ago.
Technically, it’s a combination of two types.
1) Meningitis: infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord
2) Encephalomyelitis: infection of the brain and spinal cord
Put those two together and that’s what I had.
3) Meningoencephalitis: an infection of what surrounds my brain and the brain itself.
All of this occurs because something foreign or something abnormal has sparked the immune system into action. This action resulted in the inflammation.
The damage may cause long-term mental or physical problems, depending on the specific areas of the brain affected. Thankfully, I had viral meningitis, which was not contagious. However, since it was a virus, there was no pill to take for it. It had to run its course—one long course.
I’m sure you understand I am simplifying this immensely, but its effects can be:
Physical (muscle control)
Behavioral and emotional (personality changes)
Cognitive (memory, speech) This is what hit me the most
Sensory (vision, hearing, smelling, tasting)
On the day of its onset, it was not yet known to what extreme these symptoms would show. After my first three days in the hospital, things began getting worse, and that’s when the doctors come to the conclusion that I had this type of encephalitis. After a full eight days went by, after I ‘woke up,’ as explained in my blog called Tired of Thinking, (1*) the doctors could tell I was done with the worst and was, thankfully, in the recovery phase.
Before I ‘woke up,’ family had been in my room off and on, but I did not remember anything about that. After I ‘woke up,’ finally beginning to remember a few things happening, I got used to seeing different doctors coming in and out, keeping busy checking this and that about my health. Asking me this, telling me that, with the words ‘remember’ or ‘memory’ or ‘forget’ or ‘forgot’ said in almost every sentence. And as for me, my sentences often carried the words “What’s that?” or “I don’t remember” or “What’s that called?”
Since I couldn’t really picture any place or person outside of that room, I began to feel like it was my little home and all the people dressed the same were my family.
But finally, most likely the same day or perhaps the day after I ‘woke-up,’ in walked someone not dressed like the rest.
“Marianne,” one of the doctors said, “someone’s here whom you should remember from before you got sick.” In walked this man.
My thoughts took over. Who is he? He’s not dressed like everyone else here. He…he sort of looks familiar, whoever he is.
“Marianne, this is your husband, Chris.”
“A husband? What’s a husband?”
– To be continued.