Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Crew Is Seriously Sick

Always on the cutting edge of breaking news, the local media reports today that there is a confirmed case of meningitis at a local high school. Here's the thing: the girl in question is home, out of the hospital and out of danger. I know this because the stricken teenager is a charter member of "my crew," the group of girls introduced to you by Daddy D a couple of weeks ago.
The young woman in question woke up in our house on a recent Sunday morning and was not herself. She was pale and lethargic. She was also hot to the touch. I took her temperature with a digital thermometer, and it registered 104! I don't know a lot, but I know that's dangerous at any age.
This disease can be fatal. We are closely associated with a family who lost a child to it several years ago. So, its presence at a local high school is legitimate news. This girl spent a few days in intensive care. The school sent out written notices and e-mails to parents explaining symptoms and offering advice. I consulted a physician who specializes in infectious diseases and took his recommendation. All the girls who were in our house that night immediately were prescribed antibiotics, and no one else has been stricken.
I really didn't see this coming. I knew her fever was alarmingly high, but I was kidding around with her. I remember saying, "gosh, we may have to pack you in ice." She didn't laugh. She has a tendency to be silly, so it became even more obvious that she just wasn't herself. Intensive care is just that. We'll spare the details, but let's just say she was uncomfortable for a while. We visited her several times and I can tell you that was a sick little girl. It was encouraging to hear that she expressed disappointment about missing the two major Mardi Gras parades in town. That tells me she's feeling much better. At least she's thinking about friends and parties again.
The friends are recovering emotionally. This hit some of them hard, and it wasn't in a teenage drama queen way. Given the fact that most of them know a child who lost a sibling to this same disease, they were legitimately concerned. Now that everything seems to be okay, it's nice to know they have a clear capacity for empathy. A lot of teens are self-centered by nature. I'm confident that they will become demanding and occasionally recalcitrant again soon. For a few days, they rallied around their friends' plight. They brought gifts, made cards and spent an extraordinary amount of time in her hospital room. They expressed love and showed true friendship. Naturally, her parents, sisters and other relatives rallied around her, as well.
Our ailing friend has a lot of work to do. She has missed a couple of weeks of school and she's still not fully recovered. She is out of danger, though, and she learned that she is surrounded by people who love her. Something positive will come out of this experience and she will perhaps be a stronger, more confident person because of it.

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