As I mentioned previously, I got the flu vaccine a few days ago. As of today, I do not have a fever, febrile seizures, Epstein-Barr, a reptilian tail growing out of my back, sudden desire to eat durians, or abrupt inclination to watch English Premier League soccer.
But I know I am protected against the flu, and that’s a good thing. I haven’t had the flu since the 1980s, not because I am a superior human being with the most powerful immune system in the world. It’s because I make sure I’m vaccinated against the disease every single year.
Part of the reason I got the flu jab was because my employers demanded it. They needed me healthy when I passed out bribes to physicians and surgeons–oops, I mean when I was visiting top physicians and surgeons to plan clinical trials.
Of course, my employers demanded I wear lead aprons when training physicians on imaging and diagnostic procedures in cardiac cath labs, so maybe they actually cared about me.
Madison “Madi” Allen was your typical active and healthy 12 year old girl in St. Louis, Missouri. She was in the 7th grade, playing basketball and soccer. Unfortunately, according to her family’s personal account, things went terribly wrong on a Monday morning back in February of 2011. On that day, Madison and her family’s lives were to be struck harshly.
On the Friday before, she was not feeling well, but decided to go to a friend’s birthday party. However, when she got to the party, she didn’t feel well, and texted her mother to come get her. Throughout the night, Madi was coughing badly, and had a high fever. her mother gave her some over-the-counter medications for the cough and fever. But by Monday morning, she was having trouble breathing, so her mother was going to take her to her doctor’s office as soon as they opened.
Apparently, her mother put Madi in the shower to cool her down before going to the physician, when her mother noticed that Madi’s face was sunken in and her lips were blue. At that point, Madi’s parents made the appropriate decision to bring her to the emergency room.
At the hospital, the doctors put her on oxygen, and determined that she had double pneumonia (both lungs). The treatments at the ER weren’t working, so the ER physicians decided to transfer Madi to a hospital that had more specialists and facilities for her illness. By the time she arrived at the new hospital, she was in respiratory distress, so she was intubated. The physicians then, after consulting with Madi’s parents, placed her into an artificial coma so that they could use powerful antibiotics in an attempt to treat her illness. She wouldn’t be able to speak or interact with her parents for the next 5 weeks.
By 10PM that evening, Madi had 14 different IV’s, her kidneys were failing, and she was on a ventilator. The ER at this second hospital decided she needed to be transferred to a hospital with a pediatric ICU better qualified to handle Madi’s illness, so after putting her on ECMO (essentially, life support for individuals whose heart and lungs can no longer support the patient), she was flown to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Immediately after arriving at the hospital, she went into surgery to begin attacking her disease.
She was on ECMO for two weeks. She was intubated and on dialysis for five weeks. Madi had other related issues and setbacks, spending 5 weeks in the PICU. After that, she spent another month in rehabilitation–eventually she was discharged after 93 days at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Madi went back to school and played basketball and soccer. She still has a chronic cough caused by the scar tissue that formed her lungs from the infections, which impacts her endurance. She is at risk from pneumonia. And she will likely have all of these issues for the rest of her life.