Since I have long since lost track of which information I sent to
whom, this is the general background on Christopher’s illness:
He first had what we thought was a summer flu the last week of school
in early July, but when it came back about ten days later, he was
admitted to the hospital on suspicion of meningitis, which a spinal
tap confirmed. Two weeks later he was back in the hospital with
exactly the same symptoms, same results from the spinal tap, so the
doctors thought he hadn’t completely gotten over it the time before.
About two weeks after another spinal tap had confirmed that the infection
was gone, he was back in the hospital again with exactly the same
symptoms, same results again from the spinal tap. The doctors did more
tests looking for an identifiable cause, but couldn’t find anything.
The diagnosis on his discharge papers said „Mollarets meningitis“,
which is a very rare form of recurrent meningitis without clearly
Links for Mollarets meningitis:
Christopher missed the first week of school, but then he was all right
again. We couldn’t let him go to North Carolina with his class for an
exchange program, though, because we were expecting the next „episode“
about that time, which was extremely disappointing for him –
especially since he didn’t get sick again the whole time his class was
gone. The next episode didn’t occur until the end of November, just as
we were beginning to hope it was really all over.
We had agreed on a „battle plan“ with the doctors beforehand, so we
took him in immediately and they went through all kinds of „exotic“
tests, but all with no results. As the doctors said, Mollarets
meningitis is the diagnosis they are left with, if they really can’t
find anything else. The good news is that it eventually stops, the
same way it started, with no permanent brain damage.
The bad news is that this may go on for several years.
From the end of summer until the episode in late November, there was a
period of six weeks that he was generally well, although with some
good days and some bad days (and some days of just normal obnoxious
adolescent behavior). Then it was another eight weeks until the
episode last week, which was much shorter and less dramatic than
previous episodes (sheer willpower motivated by a concert?!). We will
just have to see how things develop.
When a friend described to me her experience of meningitis and how
incredibly painful it is, it nearly made me ill imagining that
Christopher has been through that six times already and has to live
with the prospect of experiencing it again and again at any time.
Nevertheless, he is not just a „case“, a „chronically ill teenager“,
he is still Christopher with all his exuberance and all his
flightiness and everything else that makes him the unique and
wonderful (and sometimes thoroughly exasperating) person that he is.