Aedan had quite the holiday celebration – viral meningitus.

July 4:

Rode in the work truck for the parade in town, dispensed candy and waved at friends.  Played and dined with cousins at our house, returned to the city park for bouncy houses and fireworks.

July 5:

Sluggish and tired, itchy from mosquito bites.  Eventually a fever, general discomfort, neck pain and hives.  While soothing Aedan and taking note of his symptoms, I asked Joel to google a couple things.  Joel was soon on his way out the door with Aedan (in his brand-new car to cheer Aedan up!) to our local ER.  They had his chart pulled up momentarily, discussed the symptoms, and wondered audibly with Joel if Aedan had another pulled neck muscle.  A quick review of his vitals suggested that the best course of action would be a spinal tap.  The doctor presented some options to Joel, and he decide it would be best for Aedan to be “out” during the procedure.  Joel gowned-up and the room was quickly made into a sterile work field.

Just ask Aedan how “out” he was during the procedure – he remembers no pain or discomfort or fear, but very clearly remembers other details from the procedure.  Yikes!

I have watched enough medical dramas on TV to know that clear spinal fluid = good, cloudy = bad.  Joel kept me informed via text of the game plan, and when he said spinal tap I prayed for clear.  Joel finally sent news that the doctor’s initial evaluation of the fluid was that it was clear, but they had started a round of powerful antibiotics in case it was bacterial meningitis.

The boys stayed in the ER while Aedan was hydrated and monitored.  When they received word from the lab that it was viral, they were allowed to return home.  We were warned about the side effects of a spinal tap, told that other lab results would be forthcoming, and sent with instructions for treating Aedan’s various symptoms.

Initial thoughts were that the virus that led to the meningitis may have been West Nile.  Tests later revealed that was not the case, and the exact virus was never pinpointed – just the general family of virus.

Recovery for Aedan was difficult; the spinal tap rendered him bedridden for the rest of the week.  He could tolerate very little activity or stimuli before returning to his bed.  I spent hours cradling him in the oddest of positions to make his body comfortable.  When Aedan finally felt well enough to move, he still tired very easily – even into September.


A couple days post-spinal tap, still mostly flat-on-back.

Another interesting facet of the virus was this recurring rash.  He actually experienced the rash and hives a couple times within two weeks leading up to the ER visit.  We had been traveling through Missouri, and assumed it was related to mosquitoes bites, exposure to extreme heat and humidity, or a chemical used in the cleaning our hotel sofa.


One version of the rash


Different day, different rash.

Still, though, long after he seemed to return to somewhat normal activity levels after the meningitis diagnosis, a rash would appear mysteriously every third day or so.  The rash had different characteristics on different days, as well, so that made life even more interesting.  We made several trips to our pediatrician’s clinic, saw a total of three doctors and one resident, and all were convinced it was just one super-nasty virus.  They all ended the appointments with “but come back if the rash appears again after 7-10 days.” It gradually started appearing once a week, in smaller areas, with less intensity, etc., until we realized one day that we couldn’t remember the last time he had a rash.

We have quite the album of rash photos on my phone that we kept to show the doctors on our visits.  Aedan enjoyed being in charge of scrolling, and managed to always take them through a random pictorial tour of our home-life as well.


What did we learn from our meningitis?

Life is so very fragile.
Trust your parenting instincts.
Be thankful and aware of the blessings we have – especially access to outstanding medical care and relatively healthy children.
Do not lick shopping cart handles or vacation in the Ozarks.

(just kidding on that last one.  mostly)