Football player wins fight against meningitis

Kaelia Neal, Editor-in-chief

After a weekend of partying with friends, Cody Oden woke up at 9 a.m. one Sunday morning with what he initially thought was just a case of food poisoning. But after falling back asleep, and not waking again until 2 p.m., he knew something was seriously wrong.

Yes, he was throwing up—the hallmark of food poisoning and stomach flu. But there was more.

What most stood out, Oden said, was “the pain in my ribs.” He said, “I literally couldn’t breathe. I would take half a breath and feel excruciating pain in my lungs.

“I knew it wasn’t normal. It was a pain I hadn’t felt before.”

What’s more, he began to develop a purplish rash on his hands, feet and legs.

Fellow Wildcat J.D. Lasswell, who has since become his roommate, drove him to McMinnville’s Willamette Valley Medical Center at 3 p.m April 10, 2016. He was admitted immediately, and Lasswell called Oden’s mom, Teresa, to let her know.

The doctor concluded he had a form of meningitis and put him on a powerful antibiotic.

This was the same year outbreaks erupted at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

OSU has logged five more this year, the most recent coming Nov. 22. Linfield has escaped so far, but that could change in a hurry.

“Bacterial meningitis goes from being a little bit of a problem to a big problem quickly,” said Patricia Haddeland, director of student health, wellness and counseling. “You can kind of go to bed thinking you have a cold or a cough and wake up with a significant, life-threatening illness.”

Oden underwent multiple procedures, including a spinal tap and catheterization.

After a shot of morphine rendered him unconscious, he was loaded into a Life Flight helicopter for transport to the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, a Class I trauma center.

“It ended up that the shot they gave me at McMinnville ended up saving my life,” he said. “Had they opted to wait, I would probably have died on the Life Flight.”

A 24-hour period of sedation was in order, but in the middle of it, he pulled his tubes out. The doctors had to start all over, so he didn’t wake again until Tuesday.

Then he faced another battle.

“About the fourth or fifth day, I ended up getting an ulcer in my
stomach,” Oden said.

“That set me back a little bit. They had to take me off some of the steroids, because that was what was causing it.”

He said he had to learn to walk all over again, which took about two days. Oden ended up spending 13 days in the hospital.

In the process, he lost 45 pounds.

“It was wild,” Oden said.

Oden has since made a full recovery. It has left him with a keener feeling for elements of everyday living.

“Overall, I have a more appreciative view on life,” he said. “It’s definitely something that makes me appreciate the people and the things I’m blessed with on a daily basis.”

Bacterial meningitis produces devastating effects. It can cause hearing loss, brain damage and sometimes death.

Any sort of exchange of respiratory secretions puts you at risk, Haddeland said.

It’s important to take care of the basics, such as not sharing food and water utensils, washing hands frequently, covering mouths after sneezing and coughing and staying home when feeling ill.

“If you have a very high fever, greater than 102 or 103 degrees, and a headache, you should go to the hospital,” she said.

Haddeland urged students go get all the vaccinations that are offered, including the one for the B strain of bacterial meningitis.

The Sav-On pharmacy, located inside the Albertsons store next to campus on Keck Drive, stocks a three-dose version, she said.

She encouraged students to call the 1-800 number on the back of their insurance cards to see if they’re covered.

Thanks to the recent outbreak, OSU students can receive the vaccine without a prescription from a physician.

Walgreens also has meningitis B vaccine in stock.

“All others need an order from a health care provider to receive the vaccine,” Haddeland said.

“The Albertsons staff said most insurance covers the cost.”