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A Piece of My Mind
August 25, 2020

Growing Pains

Author Affiliations
  • 1Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA. 2020;324(8):745-746. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.13442

It started as a blue spot in the crease of my arm. My grandma pointed it out. She’s a hypochondriac, so no one was inclined to believe it was serious. I was a fussy 20-month-old baby at baseline, but fussier than normal that day, so my parents brought me to the pediatrician. Not long after, I was in an ambulance headed for the hospital.

I had meningococcal meningitis, complicated by septic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and purpura fulminans. My organs were failing: I was intubated, was placed on hemodialysis, and had 2 episodes of cardiac arrest, becoming unresponsive for almost a month. The purpura turned to necrosis, erupting in bursts onto my skin, burrowing into my bones, and forcing a below-knee amputation of my right leg. Debridement and dressing changes were too painful to be performed awake, so I was taken to surgery every day for weeks.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Betsy Pepper, MD | Retired, emergency medicine, migraine specialist
    You are my hero. I had but to diastase my daughter's too narrow maxillary bones by screws for two years. Nothing to compare to what you had to do. What strength of character and resilience. Any patient will be lucky to have you as their empathetic and caring physician. A beautiful and moving history - which I sense has yielded a beautiful and moving young woman. Brava.