On 23 July 2013, my 24 year old brother Tyler Parker died from meningitis. In the week leading up to this day he had been complaining about pain and stiffness in his neck, along with a headache and that he was feeling nauseas and vomiting. He was a stubborn guy and rarely went to the doctors but in the first part of that week he went to the doctors to get checked out.
The doctor said he had a cold and possibly strep throat, an infection in the throat and tonsils, because of how his throat and glands in his neck looked. They sent him home with medications and said if you’re not feeling better in a couple of days, you need to come back.
By the weekend, everything took a turn for the worse. His neck pain had worsened, he was still vomiting and he started to have a fever that spiked at 103F (39.4 degrees celsius). On Sunday we all told him he had to go back to the doctor in the morning because something wasn’t right. He even knew it too.
Ty was very active. He was also a Sargent in the Marine Corps and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For him to be this sick was very unusual.
On Monday morning at around 4am, his friend went to check up on Ty but he was unresponsive. By the time we got him to hospital the doctors told us to prepare ourselves but that they were going to do everything they could to save him, although they were still unsure what he had. His kidneys started to shut down, so they started dialysis. It wasn’t until the afternoon that they finally knew what was wrong with him. They told us he had meningitis.
Meningitis was something none of us really knew about. We hadn’t heard any stories about it and didn’t know anyone who had had it. We were all in shock and sitting there praying. The doctors did everything they could for him but by 10:28am Tuesday morning, Ty's heart stopped. They tried everything to bring him back but his heart couldn't take it anymore.
Losing Ty has been something that has impacted a bunch of people, mainly because he was the guy who could make friends with anyone. He was very friendly, and he treated everyone he met with respect and with no-judgement of their past. He saw the good in everybody. He was there for anybody, even if he barely knew you. It could be any time of any day and if you needed him, he would drop what he was doing, put his problems aside, and be there for you.
Losing him was a shock to everybody and not many people have handled it well because it happened out of nowhere. Meningitis is something people need to know about because it is often mistaken for other things but this is something that can do damage or even cause death.
Ty was one of a kind, and we know he would want us to share his story, just like many others have, to save other lives out there. Ty was a beloved friend, brother, father and boyfriend and his life was cut short due to not knowing more about meningitis.
To read another personal meningitis story from around the world, click here.