By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor
In this article, I would like to share my story of how an illness I suffered as a child affected me. Particularly with the climate of today, I hope this will help inform people of the consequences that can develop in young children who are at risk of getting certain illnesses.
It was the summer of 1958, and it seemed to have happened all at once, where I turned from an active six-year-old girl to a helpless baby overnight. At that time, my family was living in Lewistown, Montana, where my dad was a Presbyterian minister. Mom was at home with three children, aged seven to four. That summer, all three of us contracted measles. But while my siblings’ illnesses took a more benign course, I developed a life-threatening complication: measles encephalitis—a serious and potentially fatal inflammation of the brain that can occur either during the rash phase of measles or following the illness itself.
I have often contemplated my own battle with measles encephalitis…because it did indeed nearly kill me.