Most people dream of sleeping for days on end, but for Belen this reality became a nightmare several years ago. She came home on a Thursday afternoon from work and went to bed. She didn’t wake up until Sunday, three days later.
Belen had also been suffering from a headache that wouldn’t go away. She felt intense pressure behind her eyes. “I felt like my eyes were going to pop out,” said Belen. “It was the most excruciating pain.”
The pain became so bad, Belen went to her family physician who referred her to an eye doctor. After various tests, the eye doctor told Belen to go to the nearest emergency room. More testing led to a diagnosis of a rare strand of meningitis, which causes inflammation surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can cause permanent brain damage or death, if not treated promptly.
Belen was hospitalized immediately. She quickly started to lose her peripheral vision, depth perception, balance, ability to walk, and her short-term memory.
After three weeks of treatment, Belen was starting to lose hope. Her family was what kept Belen fighting for her life. “At the time, my nine-year-old daughter would come lay in my hospital bed with me and watch television,” said Belen. “I just kept thinking I need to get better for my daughter, to be there for her.”
Belen slowly started to regain the motor skills she had lost, moving around with a walker for nearly three months. Patience and persistence allowed Belen to almost completely recover. Although she still suffers some memory loss and has a hard time balancing, she’s able to be there for her now 18-year-old daughter.
Reflecting on this near-death experience, Belen says to others, “you know your body best so if you feel like something is off, speak up.”
“I’m more inclined to tell people to get something checked out if they are complaining of a symptom,” said Belen. “If I hadn’t gotten that eye exam, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
An annual eye exam can help detect signs of serious diseases. Schedule your annual exam with an eye doctor to help take care of your overall health.
Belen is an employee of VSP Global.