Given adolescents’ increasingly busy schedules, there’s never a convenient time for them to come down with a sinus infection.
The sniffling, the sneezing, the never-ending headaches — all of these symptoms and more combine to wreck havoc on a family’s plans.
For the Tidwell family, though, a sinus infection was signaling something far more life threatening.
When 13-year-old Hunter came down with the dreaded ailment in July 2017, his parents wisely took him to the doctor and thought that was the end of it.
However, not long after, Hunter started suffering from seizures, a rather terrifying development.
“He had a seizure in the floor of the kitchen, so he ended up coming to the hospital in an ambulance,” his father, Bill Tidwell, told WFTS.
“When he was laying in the floor having a seizure, I’ve never been so scared. I’ve never felt so helpless.”
Hunter was promptly admitted to Florida Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. But the worst part of the entire ordeal was that doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.
Over the space of three weeks, they subjected him to 10 MRIs. Only when the results of that final scan came back did they understand what was going on.
After that 10th scan, Dr. Jayson Sack finally explained that Hunter had a rare condition called subdural empyema.
First reported in medical about a century ago, the condition occurs when a pus-filled pocket develops around the lining of the brain.
Prior to the discover of penicillin, the mortality rate for such infections was basically 100 percent. But even the use of strong antibiotics didn’t help Hunter.
Surgery was the physicians’ only option. “The infection was actually outside and inside the lining of the brain, so you have to open up the lining then wash everything out,” Sack explained.
Fortunately, the procedure was successful and Hunter’s headaches and seizures vanished in no time.
The only thing that remained from his illness was a dramatic story about how he survived it — a story his classmates still don’t quite believe.
“I tell them I was in the hospital and I had brain surgery and the part that really gets them confused is when I tell them I had a subdural empyema,” Hunter said. “I don’t take anything for granted anymore.”