David’s Story

Site created on August 28, 2018

At the tail end of our annual trip to a family camp near Charlottesville VA David became sick. On the way home we decided to stop at an urgent care center in Charlottesville because he had a distinct tremor in his hands. The urgent care center recommended David go to an emergency room. The emergency room evaluated him and admitted him. He got excellent care at Martha Jefferson hospital.


They believe that he has menegitis and/or encephalitis  (infection of different areas of the brain). The tremor is a rare side effect of the infection's activation of the immune system. It is not know what the infection is. It probably is viral, but until a test has confirmed that it is viral, he must get a set of 4 antibiotics by IV. He is also getting an antiviral, but that will not cover many viruses including the likely culprit: West Nile. We had been at camp long enough and the CDC reports a cluster of cases in VA.



David is in the middle of the 3-5 day window for the worst swelling and symptoms of the swelling. Hopefully tomorrow or the next day we will see some improvement. Although his tremors are rare there are treatments, and the doctors have chosen three to do.


This evening he was transferred to UVA's teaching hospital to weather the worst of the infection.


We have been blessed by the help of many people already. Here in Charlottesville friends drove the kids up to DC to catch the MARC train. Another friend did some shopping for me. Two families are washing a week's worth of dirty camp clothing and bedding. Best of all a couple came and helped me with the hospital transition and invited me to stay at their house for the evening.


The kids are with school friend's families and well cared for.


I hope this site makes it possible to keep so many wonderful people informed. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Karla Peterson

A note of gratitude on the second anniversary of David falling ill with West Nile encephalopathy. Last year at this time I wrote in detail about all the people we visited last year to thank for their support. Over the course of the next eight months David set aside time every evening to read that day's Caring Bridge posts, look at the cards, pictures and videos, review notes, and/or puzzle over medical reports. He was glad to have so much documentation to understand the six week hole in his memory.

People still ask from time to time if David is *really* all better. Amazingly he is. The brain is amazing and while he had a very severe injury it was to the part of his brain that holds short term memories. Life could not have gone back to normal without short term memory. It is the "white board" where you hold incoming information and process it. You can't add numbers or reason something out or even create new long term memories without it. But luckily with time and practice he was able to recruit other brain cells to do this work. Let's hear it for "cognitive reserve"!

When our son Owen came home from Carnegie Mellon in the Spring he marveled at the fact that a little virus had upended our lives once again. (Of course this time it upended everyone's lives instead of just ours!) We have been very fortunate to be able to work and study at home, but we have all been missing working with people directly. Owen missed people enough that he went to work as an EMT here in Baltimore on an emergency contract. (That was quite an education!) And this Fall he will begin a paramedic certification in the evenings (since there will be no evening plays to work on at CMU).

This past week we took a break from our work and spent time together even though we could not go to Family Camp at Camp Friendship. A friend of ours took this picture of us in our CF T-shirts. So glad this is the second anniversary and not the first. We really treasure the opportunity we had last year to travel and visit with everyone who helped us.

Sending love to you and your family today. Hoping you are able to avoid all serious viruses. Remember your bug spray when you are enjoying the great outdoors. Remember your mask when you are enjoying people's company. It's often the simple things that matter the most.
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