October 17, 1996 to June 17, 1997
I would first like to tell you a little about Katlyn’s life, while she was here on earth before I explain the daily events of June 17, 1997.
Katlyn was born on October 17,1996 at 5:09am. She was a beautiful baby and was very healthy. When Katlyn was born, she was so popular with the nurses in the hospital that when we would go to the nursery to get her, she was always gone. Most of the time the nurses would have Katlyn in the break room, holding her all the time.
Over the next months as Katlyn grew she was a very popular baby girl. Her 19 year old sister would take her everywhere, to work, shopping and to many of her friends houses to show her off. My ex-wife Peggy, from my first marriage was just the same. She would come and pick Katlyn up and take her everywhere. In the 8 months Katlyn was with us she only stayed over night two times and that was with Peggy. I had three children with Peggy and they were calling all the time, wanting to come over and pick her up.
Her Godmother used to visit Katlyn at least 4 times a week. Just stopping by to spend some time with her. She used to sing to Katlyn all the time. She felt like many others that she could just not see her enough. Katlyn was like a little Angel here on Earth, reaching out and touching so many people. There were nights the phone would ring and someone wanted to stop over and pick Katlyn up for a while, but our reply was she is already out with someone else and you will have to try another time. When we were out all together we always had complete strangers coming up to us when we were with Katlyn, commenting on what a beautiful baby she was.
June 17, 1997 arrived just like every other day. Katlyn woke up around 7:00am just talking away in bed like she always did. She never cried in the mornings when she awoke, she would just lay there and make all kinds of sounds. She was her normal self that morning. Taking her bottle, crawling and playing around the house like she did everyday. At about 8:30am Maggie had a appointment and I was watching Katlyn till she got back. Around 9:00am I took her out of her swing and let her finish her bottle. Like normal she fell asleep in my arms around 9:40am for her morning nap.
I laid her down in her bed and around 10:25 am she woke up crying. As soon as I went to pick her up from her bed, I could feel how hot she was. I told Maggie to get the thermometer that Katlyn had a temperature. We took her temperature at 10:30am and it was 104. I called our doctors office right away and talked to a triage nurse. She explained to me to take off all of her clothes, run some tepid water and sponge it over her. She made an appointment with us for 11:30am. We gave Katlyn the bath and Maggie was at the doctors office at 11:00am with Katlyn.
The doctor who saw Katlyn was not her normal doctor, he was out of the office that day. The doctor checked Katlyn’s ears, throat and chest front and back. The doctor asked if Katlyn had been coughing or had a runny nose. Maggie told her she had none of those symptoms. The doctor could not find any type of infection in Katlyn’s ears or throat. She told Maggie that she thought Katlyn had an upper respiratory infection (a cold) and she would prescribe some Dimetap. That early afternoon between the Dimetap and Tylenol Katlyn’s fever had dropped down to around 100. Katlyn did not have much of an appetite. She would not eat solid foods. Katlyn laid on the blanket on the floor and Maggie either sat with her or held her most of the afternoon. She would doze off quite often for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and then wake up crying, which was unusual for her.
At about 3:30pm Katlyn vomited right after her bottle and felt very warm again. We took her temperature which was back up to 103.7 again. Maggie put Katlyn in her car and rushed her back to the doctors office around 4:00pm. She told the receptionist that she was in earlier with Katlyn and her fever was back up again and she wanted to see another doctor, that she did not agree with what the first doctor had told her. A nurse came out before Maggie could sit down and took her down on the first level of the office and got her right in. Katlyn got to see another doctor who had also seen Kaltyn before.
Over the next hour and thirty minutes this doctor checked Katlyn over. Checking her ears, throat chest and then drawing some blood for tests. During this time at the office Katlyn had vomited again, only this time it was a orangish type color. Katlyn only had clear Pedialite so this was very strange. This doctor called another doctor into the exam room to help figure out what was causing the fever. At this time they told Maggie that the blood test showed Katlyn’s white blood count was low, which would indicate a viral infection, according to the doctors. The first doctor even mentioned meningitis to the other, but the second doctor said “No I don’t think so”. Maggie also explained to the doctors that Katlyn would scream out a Ear Piercing scream whenever Maggie would cough. They gave Katlyn a Tylenol Suppository to bring down her temperature faster. At about 5:30pm the doctor made an appointment for the next morning at 10:30am, she thought Katlyn had some type of flu. The doctor told Maggie to switch between Advil and Tylenol and keep feeding her the Pedialite.
Katlyn’s fever did go down to around 100 again and that is where it stayed that evening. At around 9:30pm Katlyn seemed to be very listless. I was with Katlyn around 10:00pm when I noticed she had two small spots on her back like pin pricks. We called our doctors office again and talked to a triage nurse. Maggie explained what had happened that day and that Katlyn had what appeared to be a rash starting on her back and she was becoming listless. The nurse said “she thought it was Roseola”, and said to make sure we keep our appointment for the next morning. The nurse explained what Roseola was. Shortly after that call I looked up Roseola on the Internet. The information I found sounded like what Katlyn had, high fever followed by a rash.
At around 11:30pm Maggie said “I don’t think it is Roseola”, because it says a fever for 3-5 days and then the rash breaks out, also she wanted me to look at Katlyn. She said she thought Katlyn’s lips were turning dark and wanted to go to the Emergency Room at the Hospital. We did not even bother to get the car seat. Maggie held her all the way to the hospital, Katlyn had become very still and Maggie kept moving her to make sure she was still breathing. When we got to the hospital around 12:00am they rushed Katlyn right into the Emergency room and before we knew it there were about 25 people from the hospital working on her. They worked so hard, so many people were in the room. We stood outside the room all the time watching over our little baby and praying. We were told almost immediately that Katlyn most likely had meningitis, and as soon as she was stablelized she would be flown to Iowa City.
At about 1:30am Katlyn passed away. It was such a shock, there is no way to explain the feeling, even now it seems like it just did not happen. How could a viral infection take our baby’s life so suddenly. It was only 15 hours after she had shown any symptoms of being sick. On July 31, 1997 we finally received Katlyn’s Pathologists Report & Death Certificate. It stated in order (A) Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome, due to (B) Sepsis, due to (C) Neisseria Meningitidis. Since in the beginning meningitis was only suspected, we now know for sure this is what caused Katlyn’s death.
Our story was very well covered by the local media. Our local newspaper the Waterloo Courier put Katlyn’s story on the top of the front page with her picture. This paper covers most of northeast Iowa. Katlyn’s story was also aired 5 times on our local TV station KWWL and over 5 minutes of the six o’ clock news opening with her story and picture. We tried to let as many people know about this deadly disease, in hopes it may save another persons life. All I can say is, if you have any doubts when you go to your doctor, insist on an answer. Insist on tests being done. Katlyn had a rapid high fever, vomiting, headache, diarrhea and finally a rash. All symptoms of Meningitis.
We always said this prayer each night with Katlyn.
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my Soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my Soul to take. God Bless Everyone, Especially Little Kaltyn. We Love You, Mommy and Daddy.”
God Bless our little Angel Katlyn.