We lost our precious little Malcolm on October 17, 1998. He was 21 months old. He was a beautiful, always happy and smiling little boy. He has a huge dimple on his left cheek that was always showing. He brought so much joy to so many people’s lives. He was an angel when he was alive so I know that in death a wonderful little angel he remains.
It all started when my husband was transferred from California to Florida. We decided to drive the van & visit grandparents along the way. We put Malcolm and his brother Max was 3 years old in their car seats and headed out. Along the way, I got the flu. It was awful. I ended up in the hospital over night. Next, my 3-year-old got it. He looked horrible, his eyes were sunken and he vomited all night. We took him to the hospital in Arkansas.
They gave him medicine for the nausea and sent him home with extra medicine in case Malcolm got sick. My husband was sick in Tennessee, then Malcolm caught it in Georgia. We gave him the medicine right away and he did not vomit again, in fact, he seemed fine.
We finally arrived at our new home in Florida on Thursday, October 8th. We stayed there and slept on the floor because our furniture hadn’t arrived yet. Malcolm was fine and happy, they both loved having a yard to play in. On Sunday, October 11th , Malcolm threw up again, he was still happy and playful, but by night, he was very hot and still vomiting. I still had some medicine so I gave it to him. We thought he had a relapse of the flu. I should add that the couple of nights before this he was cranky and woke up a lot. I assumed it was because he wasn’t used to sleeping on the floor with his whole family.
By the next morning, Malcolm was very hot again. We decided to take him to the Doctor. We didn’t have phone books yet but I knew I saw a few walk-in clinics on the way to our house. At 8:00 Monday morning I drove to a clinic, it wasn’t open ‘til 9:00 and didn’t take walk-ins so I drove to another one. I waited until it opened at 9:00. I went in and waited. Someone came over and told me they didn’t take children that young. They sent me across the street to a family practitioner, they wouldn’t take him either. They sent me to a pediatrician next door. By this time I was crying and starting to panic. Malcolm had vomited a few times and he was just in his diaper because he was a mess. He still was very alert and was showing flu symptoms. I arrived at the pediatricians crying please take my baby, no one else will see him. After waiting a while, a doctor saw him. Malcolm checked out fine. No ear infection, no soar throat, nothing in the lungs. After waiting a couple hours until Malcolm could hold down fluid, we were sent home. I picked up Advil and Gatorade and went home. He still vomited until late that night and ran a very high fever. Once we had to put Malcolm in the bathtub until the Advil took effect and the fever went down.
He slept through the night but when my husband checked on him in the morning, he called for me. Malcolm was very lethargic and was asking for juice. The juice was right next to him but he wouldn’t reach out for it. His lips were so dry. He drank 5 ounces of Gatorade and kept it down. I called the pediatrician. They said he was just tired from fighting the flu and as long as he held down fluids that he was ok. By 4:00 that afternoon he could barely move and he wouldn’t drink. My heart aches when I know how much pain he felt on this day. I had enough. I took him back to the pediatrician, on the way there he went into “the zone”. I knew this was very wrong. I had to clap my hands to get his attention. At this time I thought he was just dehydrated. I got to the Dr’s office and went to the counter and told them “I think I’m losing him”. They took him back right away. They brought his temp down, it was 102°. They also thought he was dehydrated. They told me he needed to go to the hospital. They knew I was in no condition to drive. I told them to send an ambulance, they said it wasn’t necessary and to call my husband. So he packed up our other son and drove us all to the hospital.
It all went downhill from there. The nurse looked into Malcolm’s eyes and saw one pupil was dilated and took him right back. They started him on antibiotics right away. He had been having seizures and we didn’t even know it. He just got worse and worse. They gave him medicine for the pain so we never saw him conscious again. He went to three hospitals. He went to the second hospital that night and the infectious disease doctor came and asked me how long he had the rash. I asked, “what rash”? He did not have a rash at the first hospital. The disease moved so fast. They sent him to the third hospital in Miami that afternoon. They were afraid his kidneys would fail. The doctors were the best here. I thought there was a chance, but the next day his other pupil dilated and they knew his brain was worse. They inserted a tube to drain the fluid from his brain but the tissue was too swollen and they couldn’t get the tube where it needed to be. There was nothing else they could do. Malcolm was declared brain dead at 3:50pm on October 17th.
I never got to hold him without the tubes because we decided to donate his organs and they had to keep him on the respirator to do the operation, but I did hold him. He was so heavy with all the tubes. My husband held him too. We sang to him and read him stories. The nurses cried. Later the Dr. wrote us a letter and said he held Malcolm’s hand all the way to the operating room and that he reminded him of his own son who is two. He was very distraught. We are comforted to know that Malcolm’s liver went into a 3-year-old girl and she is doing well. His kidneys went into a 39-year-old man. He is also well. It is hard to see my other son so sad. He has told me he wants Malcolm back. In only 1 week, he lost his brother and with the move, he lost all his friends. He is yearning for a friend. Hopefully, soon, we will have another baby, we will love him or her as much as our bubbly, beautiful Malcolm.
I have bad thoughts. Mainly that I never took Malcolm’s temperature because the ear thermometer was packed and I couldn’t find it. Maybe if I had and saw how high it was I would have taken him to the hospital that first night. However, I have good thoughts too; Malcolm got to see his grandma and granny and papa who he loved so much a week before he got sick.
May you rest in peace my love. I love you.