It was late Friday afternoon, and I was worried. Bob, my youngest child at 22 months, was sick. Earlier that day I noticed little spots all over his body. I thought they might be measles. I'd seen all of this before, since I had two older children. They'd had all the ordinary diseases, but even when they were sickest, they were livelier than Bob was that day. My other children still managed to play when they were sick, but Bob wasn't playing. And his spots had gotten larger, like the chicken pox, but they were still spreading.
We lived in the country with the closest doctor 30 miles away. A hospital was 50 miles in the other direction. I knew that our country doctor left early on Fridays to attend his son's basketball games, but I dialed his number just to be sure. The answering machine gave an emergency number. I didn't want to be a paranoid mother, but fear won out and I called. When his wife answered, I hoped she'd tell me something soothing to reassure me that Bob would be all right. She didn't.
"I want you to take him to the office immediately, and the doctor will meet you there."
Now I was scared.
"Pray these words"
Bob was unable to walk by the time we got to the office.
The doctor took one look at Bob and said, "He has spinal meningitis. I've never seen this kind before, but I'm sure that's what it is. He'll die before morning. No one ever lives more than 24 hours after they get it."
In spite of his dire prediction, the doctor gave Bob a shot so he wouldn't lose use of his legs. By this time, Bob was slipping into a coma because his fever was so high. As I sat helplessly by, the doctor called the ambulance driver.1