Swollen Meninges

Just as the boys and I were boarding the plane on December 26th I thought, “Wow, that was relatively painless!  What will I ever blog about if I don’t have a crazy airport story to tell?”

Apparently, God took me seriously and gave me an even bigger story to tell.

I delivered my three cherubs to my parents and Aunt Elli in San Antonio before I jetted to Austin.  I had the honor of staying with Christina and Tyler for the week as Super Aunt.  I got to help take care of my sweet 2 week old nephew Cayden, and help Chritina and Tyler in any way I could.  It was wonderful.  I got to cuddle all day with the sweet little jellyBin, but not have to do any nighttime feedings. :)  It was bliss!  I had so much fun being on the other side of the newborn care= not the weepy new mom. :)  Christina was a pro right from the beginning though- she far surpassed me in my first days as a mom.  She is easygoing and worry free, none of which describe me.

Towards the end of my stay I woke up in the middle of the night with a throbbing headache. Like a bowling ball was sitting on top of my head.  All day I tried different kinds of medicine, but nothing would even touch it.  I thought maybe I was having a migraine and I just needed to sleep it off.  But when the pain continued into the next day, I was getting nervous.  Christina and I drove back to San Antonio on New Years Eve.  When we arrived at my parents’ house I still didn’t feel right. Then the vomiting started.  I was in so much pain and very fearful.  My mom convinced me I needed to go to the hospital (I was still worried they would just laugh at me because it was just a migraine).  The car ride was terrible and I could barely make it in the front doors.

When they got me in the stretcher and pumped Morphine and Zofran through my IV it was bliss.  Finally some relief!  The Doctor said she wanted to do a CT scan of my brain to check for tumors or an aneurysm.  Not sure if it was the drugs or my emotional heart, but I was convinced I was on my death bed.  I started pouring out tearful soliloquies to my mom about life lessons I’ve learned.  When I got to the part about how I wanted her to make sure my boys always remember me and how much I love them, she took my head in her hands and said something to the effect of , “Jen, you are not dying.  God is not finished with you yet-your boys need you still and the Lord knows that.  But I promise you, whatever happens, I will make sure everyday that your boys know how much you love them.”

After the CT scan the Doctor came in and said my sinus cavities were inflamed.  I told my mom to please not tell that to Michael yet- I didn’t want him to get the expensive ER bill because I had a sinus infection!  I felt so dumb that I went to the emergency room for a sinus infection.  The Doctor said she was going to do a spinal tap because of my neck pain, but it was probably nothing because of the sinus infection.  I remember her exact words, “I guess I’ll go ahead and do the spinal tap to be on the safe side, but I wouldn’t get too worried.”

After the spinal tap, (which, ladies, if you have had an epidural- you can do a spinal tap relatively painlessly) my mom and I talked about what we were going to do when we got home.  It was nearly 3 am, and we knew Simon would be up in two hours, so we discussed who would get up with him, etc.  We had to wait an hour for the results, but thought they’d be clear and we would be heading home.  My tears were gone, I was embarrassed I just had a boring sinus infection that ruined New Years Eve.

At 4 am the Doctor walked in and said, “Well I’m so glad I did the spinal tap because you tested positive for meningitis.”

Well, back to my death bed.  Hysterical tears ensued. I had only heard of (bacterial) meningitis- the one you can get in college dorms that you die from. “I was just with my two week old nephew all week, and I have 3 young boys- what do we do to keep them safe?  Do they need to come in?  Are they going to survive?”  I really was not worried about me- I had made my peace with death a few hours earlier.  I was only concerned about Cayden, Trevor, Elliott, and Simon.

Immediately they put a mask on me and whisked me on my stretcher to the third floor.  It felt very Grey’s Anatomy.  Everyone that came into my room had to wear a mask, gown and gloves.  Definitely added to the frightfulness of this deadly disease I thought I was dying from.

A new Doctor, my favorite the whole stay, came in and asked me if I had questions.  My tears increased and I said all I wanted to know was if my two week old nephew was going to be okay.  She bent down near my face and looked me in my eyes.  I will not forget her compassion.  She explained to me that there are two kinds of meningitis- viral and bacterial.  She said my cultures were presenting as viral.  She told me 98% of my cells were the viral kind, with only 2% of the dangerous bacterial kind.  She said viral meningitis was not contagious, so all 4 boys would be fine.  I felt a flood of relief when I heard those words.  She even said worse case scenario, if my cultures started to say bacterial, that everyone I came in contact with would get antibiotics and would be fine. It was now 4 am and I was feeling a little less on my death bed, but more uncomfortable.  With some fresh morphine and zofran I was able to rest.

That was 25 days ago.  I didn’t even know what meninges were before this excitement.  Now I feel well educated on all things brain and spine.  Viral Meningitis can last 7-10 days for some, 3-4 months for others.  Two of my friends that have had told me it took months to feel like themselves again.  Sometimes I say, Lord- meningitis, seriously?!  Seriously.

I’m not good at resting.  I’m not good at letting other people care for me.  I’m not good at not being in control.  But I know God has purpose in everything.  I must be that stubborn that I had to get meningitis to learn to REST.

Lamentations 2:5

My Lord has become like an enemy.
He devoured Israel;
he devoured all her palaces; he made ruins of her city walls.
In Daughter Judah
he multiplied mourning
along with more mourning!

“Notice that God started to be like Israel’s enemy. The writer knows that, in fact, God wants the best for his people. He does not say, “My Lord has become an enemy,” but “My Lord has become like an enemy.” Thus, Lamentations 2:5 models, on the one hand, the kind of stunning bluntness that we have already seen in this biblical book. Yet, on the other hand, this verse gives evidence of faith, embattled faith, struggling faith, but faith that God is not really the enemy. Most Christians will go through seasons of life when God feels like anything but a friend. Perhaps we’ll wonder if God has simply turned his back on us. Maybe we’ll suffer so much that we’ll begin to feel as if God were our enemy. Lamentations urges us not to hide these feelings or pretend that they don’t exist. At the same time, this book encourages us to hang onto the truth about God, to trust that he is who he has revealed himself to be, even if we can’t make sense of his actions or inactions.”  -Mark Roberts

I refuse to give up.  I refuse to let these circumstances swallow me up.  My hope is in the Lord, and I trust Him even in my sickness. I am thankful for the rest (that I usually fight), and all the people that have surrounded us with prayer, meals, groceries, cards, childcare, and encouragement. I am learning what it is to be part of the body of Christ, and to truly carry one another’s heavy load in life. So here I am lying in my bed, which I’m pretty certain is not my death bed, trying to soak in all these lessons.  I get it Lord, thank you for the meningitis, but I’m ready for you to take it away now. :)

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalm 100:1-5

9 thoughts on “Swollen Meninges”

  1. Wow, Jen, what a powerful story! You are so strong in God! We will continue praying and look forward to seeing your beautiful face at the Orchard, and being able to hug you and love on you in person. xo!

  2. Jenny, I couldnt help but cry when I was reading this. I know that I havent seen you in quite some time (been MIA from the Orchard) but I care deeply for you and your boys. You are 1 of the happiest people that I have ever met and so are your boys! I’ve been following everything online and praying for you all the time. This is quite a lesson to be learned but boy are you going to grow from this one!!! LOL Huge hugs and lots of love to you and your family!

  3. Dearest Jen,
    You are precious and loved and my favorite LIVING author!!!
    Let the record reflect that you DID let others take care of you well!
    I know you do not miss the ceiling fan x+x+x+x+. :)
    “Aunt” Mar

  4. Dear Sweet Jenni,
    Like you, sometimes God has to know me flat to make me rest. I am learning…I find resting especially hard when I want to help others with their needs. God lets me go, to a point and then I feel the pain and hear His voice (as well as Pastor Don’s) “Listen to your body”. I’d rather listen to my heart that wants to serve others. My head knows I am no use to others if I make myself sick but my “helping heart” wants to ignore that message. Some lessons are easier to apply than others. I pray you learn God’s lessons faster than I have! I think it will save much suffering. I am so grateful God doesn’t give up on us when we are slow to learn or apply. He just keeps carving away all the places that don’t look anything like Jesus! We are in process and I find that comforting.

    I will keep on, keeping on praying for you and all your family!! I hope this recent “tutoring from God” wont prevent you from returning to Texas.

    I love you sooooo much! I love your heart that focusses on Jesus and your desire to learn and apply all of God’s lessons for you! Keep resting and keep us up to speed on your progress, physically as well as spiritually!

    Nana Nu

  5. My beautiful daughter,
    The Lord Jesus in you and His living word poured out…magnifies Him and touches my heart in the deepest places. To see light in the dark, good in the really REALLY hard…only Jesus in you. To relive this through your words almost brings humor to some of the hardest scariest moments. All I know most is…it was a privilege to walk each step of this with you (and your sweet sweet boys!!) and cling to God together; everytime, every moment we sought the Lord, He was there; and the Body of Christ and the love of Christ through praying family/friends and helping family/friends near and far was humbling and overwhelming testimony of His love and goodness. The depth of the love dad and I have for you can never be expressed. The coolest part…it doesn’t even touch the love our Father has for you, Michael, Trevor, Elliott and Simon. I love you with ALL my heart, Mom

  6. Jenni!
    I laughed and cried while reading this… I’m so happy that you and all the boys are going to be ok. What a story! I’m praying for you and hope to see you soon.
    XOXO

  7. Sweet Jenni,

    I know there is a nevel between each line! These comment boxes allow all of us who love each of you like our own family burst in thanksgiving for your journey thus far. I am not an expert in anything “brain or spine” but your journey cut deep into my heart–just from being a mom who knows Jesus is in charge of our moment by moment journey—I cannot put into words how thankful I am you are growing toward being healthy again. I know it will be a long road with lots of tears and laughter and joy in being alive–even though that is sometimes easier said than done when you lack control, strength and a routine you are used to. I am thankful your desire to write has not been diminished! I thank God for delivering you safely back into the arms of your husband and the bundle of your family. I pray you will take as much time as you need to recover and to adjust your “life” to whatever becomes your new normal–then just remind me that I said those words to you someday when (any of us lollies) must do the same. I do love you, your family, your precious sisters, all of your children, and of course mom and dad! Hugs to you Jenni and thank you for allowing us to pray and watch God give you Himself along the way. Norma Kay

  8. Jen – I had high hopes of reading this earlier – but just couldn’t doing anything long enough before falling asleep – early pregnancy and three kids can do that along with my mom passing recently!! So, I saved and finally am reading now!!
    You write beautifully and had quite a dramatic holiday – so sorry this all happened but God does have His ways . . . so greatful in the end!! God is bigger than meningitis – and really anything!!! So glad to see your face shining on Tuesday – hope that you continue to make a full recovery, being refined in the fire, shining as gold, using it all for His glory, stronger!!

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