In honor of today, World Meningitis Day, and tomorrow, Texas Meningitis Awareness Day, The Immunization Partnership is honored to welcome guest blogger Patsy Schanbaum. Patsy is the President of The J.A.M.I.E. Group, an organization whose mission is to help Jamie Schanbaum, meningitis survivor, share her experiences and knowledge so that all can avoid this vaccine-preventable disease. Please join us on these important days of awareness and education. Let’s all join hands in the fight against meningitis! Read on to hear a mother’s story that no parent should miss and learn what you can do to protect your children and loved ones against this disease. Thank you Patsy for all that you do!
On April 24- 25 we will be recognizing and advocating for Meningitis Awareness with World Meningitis Day and Texas Meningitis Awareness Day. You ask – Why and who am I to be writing about this horrible, but yet vaccine preventable disease? I am the mother of a child who survived Meningitis, unfortunately most people who are stricken with Meningitis are not so lucky and do not survive. My daughter Jamie survived but at a cost.
On November 13th 2008, my daughter Jamie Schanbaum, who by the way was a second year student at the University of Texas Austin, was rushed to the Hospital just not feeling good – at all. Two days later, Jamie and our family learned she had contracted meningococcal septicemia. This disease is similar to meningitis. Instead of infiltrating the brain and spinal cord, the bacterium infects the blood. Meningococcal septicemia has a higher fatality rate than typical meningitis. The state health department informed us that one in ten people is a carrier of this particular bacterium which resides in the nose or throat. You can have it and not be affected by it, but something as simple as a cold or a stomach virus can cause this bacteria to work its way into your blood system, which is what happened to Jamie. Jamie survived, though sadly she lost both legs below the knee and all her fingers. They had to be amputated as a direct result of her infection.
As the mother of 4 children (Jamie is my youngest) I had followed the advice of my pediatrician and had my children vaccinated with all recommended vaccines. I’m educated, I’m smart and I know it all – or so I thought – but more importantly I assumed my pediatrician knew it all. Not only was I not educated about the meningitis vaccine but I definitely knew nothing of the horrific causes of this disease. It’s very important as parents that we become knowledgeable on all the vaccines, diseases and recommendations. Make an educated decision on protecting your children.
It’s been a little over 4 years since Jamie was stricken with meningitis and life as we once knew has changed but in most causes for the best. We have passed a law in Texas requiring all entering students to have the meningitis vaccine – The Jamie Schanbaum/Nicolis Williams Act. Jamie is a gold and silver medalist on the US Paralympic Cycling Team and she is back in school at UT (Hook em’) and living life fully as a 24 year old. Jamie and I do our part to inform and educate to insure that parents also make an informed and educated decision on vaccination. My hope is that every prevent illness by protecting your loved ones with vaccine preventable diseases.