Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Day After Halloween

Anyone who knows me intimately knows my favorite holiday is Groundhog Day. I plan to make the pilgrimage to Punxsutawney some day. That being said Halloween comes in a close second.

I had a friend in 4th grade that was an only child. He was a loner and a little on the nerdy side. His parents overindulged him. He owned everything I wanted. Not the least of which was his 8mm projector and an 8mm print of every Castle and Hammer Films monster movie ever made.

He had all the Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula, Wolf man, and Creature From The Black Lagoon films. Or as Whoopi Goldberg said, “The Creature From The African American Lagoon.”

I had a subscription to Famous Monsters of Filmland. I remember subscribing to Eerie and being disappointed that it was just a comic book in a mag format. I did get turned on to a lot of the great comic artists through it though. Here’s a link to give you an idea --

Halloween of 1999 was the last day I shot a deposition for Mudge Legal Video. I was in the process of getting my Microsoft computer cert and needed to focus on classes. Kim would be supporting us until I got a job. That actually happened pretty quickly.

I spent that week taping monster movies to watch with my kids. Dylan would have been almost 6 and Chloe would have been almost 4. I was still new to the suburbs but already got into the  Halloween tradition of dads pulling a wagon of beer, hanging at a corner while the kids canvassed the neighborhood for candy.

Dylan had said he wasn’t feeling well at the beginning of the night. By the end we were pulling him in the wagon.

In retrospect it was pure dumb luck I wasn’t working at the time. That next day Dylan was worse. He was disoriented and couldn’t walk.

At first I thought he was just trying to stay home with me. After relentless complaints I got scared enough to take him to the doctor. The doctor had him walk down a hall and Dylan couldn’t make it all the way. He became very concerned and sent us to a neurologist.

Before I knew what was going on we were in an emergency room and Dylan was getting a spinal tap. From there we were rushed by ambulance to Children’s hospital in the city. He was put in a quarantined room on the cancer ward floor. The room was designed to suck atmosphere in so nothing could get out.

Dylan had both meningitis and encephalitis. His immune system was attacking the white matter of his brain. There was a team of doctors that couldn’t determine whether it was viral or bacterial. They gave him antibiotics just in case.

Kim and I took turns sleeping in the window for a week and a half. When Dylan was conscious he was screaming. It was the worst experience of my life. I was falling apart and taking it out on the doctors.

When he finally got out they gave him steroids to bring the brain swelling down. He was so pumped he looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I remember watching Gore lose the presidential race and all the monster movies in Dylan’s room.

Dylan’s soccer coach visited and brought a ball signed by all the kids on his team. His coach was a huge, macho man but left almost immediately in tears. He couldn’t bear to see Dylan in so much pain.

They put Dylan in huge scanning machines. They were worried he’d panic with claustrophobia but he was great.

It would be years before he could even get into a car comfortably. The only thing he seems to remember from his stay are the monster movies.

The staff at Children’s Hospital really are incredible. They live with constant heart break and just keep going.

I thought the whole experience had created a bond between Kim and me that could never die. I guess all things pass.

Photos are from that Holloween. Chloe is Snow White


...Sharon said...

It's incredible how our bodies take care of us - as removing the memories of that horror and pain from Dylan's mind. So, did you ever figure out how he contracted this?

And what do you mean by the atmosphere in the room being sucked in - was it some sort of clean room environment?

Doggie said...

We never did learn how he got it. Atmosphere could come into the room but it could not escape. I guess it was somehow filtered or the room would have exploded!

...Sharon said...

So they controlled the atmosphere in case he was contagious?

Doggie said...

Yup. Encephalitis is extremely contagious and kids die from it. At one point the doctors were worried Dylan would die. They weren't communicating with us very well. I exploded. I yelled at everyone. It was obvious there was a problem.

Anonymous said...

what a time of horror!

I sat beside his bed as he moaned and cried out. When I stroked his cheek and sang the little songs that were special between us, he grew silent and listened until I finished then would resume his moaning and crying out.

How I love that boy!

Dylan's Mommo (David's Mom)

Anonymous said...

Nothing but the movies eh? As a matter of fact, I can remember every bit of the experience. And as for "handled it great" they had to put on the audio for Inspector Gadget the movie the next few times because the first time I actually did have a panic attack.