Almost me

Remember how I told you Dumb and Dumber were neglectful idiots?

Two weeks ago I was browsing through my Facebook news feed when the picture of this little boy popped up.  Super cute.  But then my heart sank to my stomach as I kept reading.

He was a 19-months old who didn't get proper medical attention and died due to complications from meningitis.

Reading the story triggered so much anger for this sweet little boy.  A life that was taken too soon.  A life cut short because his parents failed to get him medical treatment.  The article stirred up a lot of anger about my childhood because...I was almost that little boy.

Soon after my adoption was finalized, Dumb got orders to relocate to Ft. Meade, Maryland.  Before we could move Stateside we had to get tested for Tuberculosis.  Dumber and I both tested positive but due to time constraints we were unable to start and complete treatment.  The doctor let Dumber and me board a plane with ACTIVE TUBERCULOSIS.  

He instructed Dumb to get us to the hospital for treatment immediately upon landing.  Looking at my shot record and then looking at my medical record, I determined it had been three months from the time I tested positive before I had been admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center.  THREE MONTHS. And Dumb probably would have never taken me to get treatment.  However, Dumber has told me in the past that one day she was holding me and my leg started 'twirling'.  She didn't know what was going on so she just held my leg to make it stop moving.  Then my arm started moving.  Dumb's stepmother, who was visiting at the time, saw it all and told Dumber that she thought I was having a seizure and thought I needed to go the hospital.  That's when the whole ordeal began.  That's when it was discovered the Tuberculosis had moved morphed and mutated into Tuberculosis Meningitis.  For the next month we lived at Walter Reed.

This next part is what lead me to the office at our house.  That made me pick up my medical file.  The records that that I have had in my possession for more than a decade, that ultimately resulted in me finding out about my adoption   Dumb has always been in denial that his negligence resulted in me being sick for a third of a year.  That resulted in a 19 month therapy program once I was finally discharged from the hospital.  That resulted in PERMANENT brain damage.  Don't get me wrong. The alternatives, as we can see from the article above, of what meningitis is capable of is scary and I am lucky to still be alive but I credit my survival to the doctors at Walter Reed for that.  Not Dumb or Dumber.

To this day, when asked why he didn't seek treatment for me, he likes to tell the story that back then it was very common for false positives.  Oh really?  Bullshit. We lived and came from a region of the world where tuberculosis is rampant.  The possibility of running into somebody that didn't have it were more unlikely than somebody that did.  The fact that BOTH Dumber and myself tested positive for tuberculosis should have been a red flag.  The fact that the doctor told him to get us treatment should have been a red flag.  But no.  Dumb thought he was smarter than all the statistics and the doctors and decided against it.  Now do you understand the reasoning behind my nicknames for them?

If that wasn't bad enough, to make himself feel better about the whole situation he likes to wrap it all up with a nice bow and say I was a miracle of modern medicine.  After a month of treatment and no hope in sight, the doctors had only given me a 20% chance of survival.  As a last resort they proposed a cocktail of meds.  Well what do you know?  They worked.  Dumb said that at the time, there really was no cure for Tuberculosis.  So I was a medical miracle.  I was a frequent visitor at the teaching hospital (I might as well be since I was up there for subsequent therapy for 19 months) and I was in medical journals.  But the thing I find funny about his story?  He didn't keep a single medical journal article about me.  J and I have speculated that he just never wanted to admit that he was neglectful and this was just the story he liked to tell me and others about why it got so bad.  But if you think about it, had he just listened to the doctor's orders I wouldn't have had to go through any of that.  My brain wouldn't be damaged.

If those parents had sought PROFESSIONAL medical help for their little boy, he would still be alive. So no, no, I don't feel a bit sorry that they were convicted for his death.  I do feel sorry that the little boy is gone.  My heart breaks for his siblings that are left behind and missing him.  They deserved so much better. When people hear about me and J rushing Nathan to the doctor over a runny nose, they kind of look at us like we're nuts.  But after going through what I went through, I'd rather be overly paranoid, a hypochondriac, if it means Nathan never has to deal with what I went through.  J and I often wonder what would have happened had my illness progressed.  What if I had died?  Would the chuckleheads have gone to jail?  Would there have even been an investigation?  Judging by the fact that the doctors didn't really seem concerned that the meningitis stemmed from the non-treatment of my Tuberculosis, probably not.  I'm not even sure if a social worker was even contacted in my case. It was the 80s after all.  Child welfare wasn't as much of a hot button topic as it is today.  So who knows.  What I do know is that medical science has come a long way.  Whether I played a small part in it or not I still don't know but I do know there is no excuse for not taking your child in if you think they may be sick.  I managed to Google the doctor who's name is throughout my medical file.  He has retired from the Army and is no longer practicing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  He is however, now a professor at the Uniformed Service University and I have sent him a letter to thank him for possibly saving my life.  We'll see if he responds but I'm not expecting anything.  I'm not sure what the purpose of me writing him is.  Maybe to get further confirmation that Dumb and Dumber are full of shit.  I'm not holding my breath for a response.  But it did feel good to send out the letter to at least thank the doctor.  So now I wait.

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I'm a 35 year old working, running and shopping (not necessarily in that order) mom living in the burbs surrounding the beautiful city of Austin with my husband, our very active 5 year old and our rescue dog Buddy. This blog is my little space of the internet where I let my ADD run loose and I blog about...anything.


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