Every once and a while, you hear about a meningitis outbreak somewhere in the country, but most cases are actually isolated, and often have devastating consequences. It is a story that Jamie Schanbaum knows all too well.
"I got meningitis when I was 20 years old and 7 months later I finally got out of the hospital, but as an amputee,” she says.
Schanbaum was a student at the University of Texas at Austin. She got sick on November 12 of 2008.
The next day, she was near death and diagnosed with meningitis, an inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes, typically caused by an infection. Most at risk are babies who have not been vaccinated and college students living in dorms, where infectious diseases can spread quickly.
"I was very nauseous and would have to use the bathroom all the time to vomit,” Schanbaum says. “The next morning was worse. I felt my body collapsing, I could not retain any warmth. I remember burying myself under blankets and shivering to my bones and had no idea what was happening."
She and everyone around her realized how serious it was when the doctor asked where her mother was and said, “She needs to be here.”
“And that moment we knew it was serious,” Schanbaum says. “I swear everything went quiet around me because I was officially scared."
Jamie was in a medically induced coma for weeks.
"I would wake up for the next couple weeks looking at my limbs go from red, to purple to black," Schanbaum says.
Daily hyperbaric treatments helped save some of her limbs, but Jamie's legs below the knee and her fingers had to be amputated.
"I remember waking up, one, being in a lot of pain without moving whatsoever and two, I just remember knowing that I'm waking up to a new life and it's weird to look at the bed and you don't see your feet there anymore," Schanbaum says.
From despair to triumph, and how healthy living is often a state of mind, how you decide to deal with a difficult or tragic situation, we’ll tell you that part of Jamie's story in the next Healthy Living report, and how she is using her platform to make sure others know how to prevent what happened to her.