My nightmare began on Saturday, March 9, 1997. Jaime and Jessica (my younger daughter) and I were going to take my mother shopping. Jaime (who would rather shop than eat) decided to stay home because she wasn’t feeling well. When she got out of bed that morning, she complained of being nauseated, having a headache and stiff neck. She said she was going to stay home and rest because she had a date with her boyfriend, Todd for later that day. Later in the day Jessica called Jaime to check on her and Jaime stated that she was feeling better and for us to stop and pick her up a pizza on our way home. I remember smiling when I heard Jessica say “I love you sissy” as she hung up the phone. There were only 15 months difference in their age and they were close but they had their disagreements like any two sisters.
When we returned home, Jaime was lying on the couch and seemed to be feeling better. I ask if she wanted her pizza now and she told me she would eat it later. I took her temperature and it was about 101 degrees. I gave her some over the counter pain reliever and told her if she wasn’t feeling better soon I was going to take her to the Emergency Room. She assured me she was feeling much better and said she was going to get some sleep before it was time for Todd. Todd was everything to Jaime and he felt the same about her. They were always together. Todd arrived about a hour later and Jaime was still sleeping on the couch, so Todd just sat down in the living room and began watch T.V. I heard Jaime later, waking up and telling Jessica not to walk “so hard” through the house because it was causing her head to hurt more. Jaime started making these weird noises and I came in the living room to check on her and as a nurse I could tell she was having seizures. I went to her and kept yelling her name trying to get her to respond to me. I started screaming at someone to call an ambulance. Jessica and Todd just stood there in complete shock and I had to make the call myself. It seemed forever before they arrived. They tried to start an IV on her after they did their initial assessment and were having a difficult time because she kept drawing her arms up due to the seizures.
When we arrived at the emergency room, I had to do the paper work with admitting and then they told me to wait in the waiting room and the doctor would come out and talk to me. All the time I was waiting I kept telling myself they would make her better. I remember calling my husband, Steve (Jaime’s Step-father) at work and telling him that he needed to come to the hospital that it wasn’t just the flu, like we thought it was.
Jessica called her and Jaime’s father and other family members. Finally the E.R. doctor comes out and tells us that he has her on a ventilator to help her breathe and they were transporting her to the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, because they did not know what was wrong with her. They transported her by ambulance and we followed in our cars.
When we arrived at U.K. hospital they took her immediately for a test and I had to answer what seemed like a million questions. Finally they transferred her to Pediatric ICU and we were told that someone would talk to us soon. I was sure that the doctors would come out and tell us that they knew what was wrong with and she would be fine. There was a nurse that rode in the ambulance with Jaime to the hospital and she came out and hugged me. She did not say anything, but you could see she was upset. I still continued to assure myself that Jaime would be just fine. Later when the doctor came out to talk to us, instead of telling us she would be fine, he tells us that she is “brain dead.” I just kept asking him how she could go from talking to me just a few hours earlier to being brain dead. I also kept telling him it was my fault because I should have brought her to the emergency room earlier.
The Doctor kept telling me it was not my fault that Jaime had a type of meningitis that got in her blood stream and caused swelling in her brain and that it happens really fast. At that time it was around 3a.m. and he informs us that they are going to wait until 8a.m. to do another test to make sure there was not brain activity.
Being a nurse, I knew that there was no hope. They let us visit with Jaime as much as we wanted. I could only stay a few minutes at a time, because she was just lying there like she was sleeping. She was so beautiful and her long hair was flowing over the pillow. I just kept begging her to please do not leave me and I kept telling her how much I loved and needed her. The pain was so unbearable and I would have to walk out for awhile. I look back on that time now and wish that I had never left her for a second.
Around 5a.m. they called us in this room and as I walked in and seen the doctors sitting there and I could not believe when they ask me for permission to do an autopsy on Jaime to confirm their diagnosis. I just looked at them in horror. How could they ask that of me. I could not take anymore and I walked out of the room. Later, thinking about it I knew that I had to know exactly what happened to her and agreed for the autopsy. Weeks later when I received the autopsy report; it confirmed that she had died from Bacterial Meningitis.
The funeral was so hard. It was like I was living someone else’s life. This was not mine. Nothing like this could never happen to me. I must have been in a daze throughout the funeral because looking back it is so hard to remember the people that were there. Todd, Jaime’s boyfriend was so devastated and I wanted to comfort him, but it was hard for me to do. Todd and Jaime were so close and were always together and seeing Todd alone reminded me that Jaime was not with us anymore. I tried to give him his class ring that Jaime had on her hand and he would not take it. He wanted it to stay with her. Also, I noticed that Jessica had placed a watch on Jaime’s wrist. Later I had found out that they had an argument the day that Jaime got sick, because she had borrowed it without asking Jessica’s permission. I could only imagine what Jessica was feeling because of a normal little “sister spat.”
It was so hard for Jessica to even mention Jaime’s name. During Jessica’s senior year she wrote a paper for class about Jaime’s death. When I read the story she had written I understood what Jessica was going through dealing with Jaime’s death. Jessica had always been excellent student and was salutatorian of the 8th grade class and now we were lucky if she even stayed the whole day in school. We did not know until the day of graduation if they were going to even allow her to graduate due to her failing grades and absenteeism. I was told by several of her teachers they were only allowing this to happen because of Jaime. She would not talk to me about Jaime and this was her way of dealing with it. Only now, years later will she talk about Jaime and I know that she is truly sorry for what she put me through so soon after Jaime’s death.
Jaime died just 6 days before her 17th birthday. I miss her so much and the pain is unbearable at times, but I know some day I will see her beautiful face again and I know that is what helps me make it through the days without her. I have had several dreams about Jaime and she comes back in our lives, but in the end of the dream she always has to leave again, but the dream of her always makes me feel better.