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Family Stories

The Byerman Family

FFF Advocate:
Mikalee Byerman (mother)
Place of Residence:
Reno, Nevada
Survivor:
4-years-old, 2017
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Bryerlee Byerman

Bryerlee was just 4 years old when she was rushed to the emergency room on October 16, 2017. She had been home sick from school with a fever all day. Her mother, Mikalee, brought her to the doctor earlier that afternoon, fearing it might be flu. The doctor assured her that he hadn’t seen flu yet that year. He didn’t test for flu, but he did see signs of an ear infection, so he sent them home with antibiotics. 

About eight hours later, Bryerlee suddenly started having difficulty breathing. She was experiencing spasms that rocked her entire body as she struggled for air. Noting how lethargic she was and how much effort it took for her to simply breathe, her mother quickly grew concerned. She knew she couldn’t wait until morning to get medical attention, so she headed to the ER.

By the time they arrived at the hospital, Bryerlee was hypoxic, which is a dangerous condition that results when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen. Without oxygen, the brain, liver, and other organs can be damaged just minutes after symptoms begin. Mikalee was told that if she had waited any longer to take her daughter to the hospital, that she very well could have lost her.

At the hospital, Bryerlee was finally tested, and the doctors confirmed that her condition was brought on by flu. While Mikalee held bedside vigil for her hospitalized toddler, she came down with the flu herself. She suffered a high fever, chills, body aches and a severe sore throat.  Bryerlee was released from the hospital after 3 days and quarantined at home for two weeks until she was completely recovered. It was at least eight days before Mikalee recovered herself.

Prior to this incident, Mikalee — a single mom — was overscheduled with commitments and quite simply felt she had “ample time” before it was critical to get her three children flu shots. However, all the things that kept her busy seem so trivial to her now. Luckily, Bryerlee hasn’t suffered any long-term medical issues, but this experience did have a very big financial and emotional impact for the family. The hospital bill was over $11,000, and Mikalee will never forget the dangers of something she consistently hears others referring to as “just the flu.” 

She explains that “Life gets in the way. But it can’t. I didn’t realize that every day I waited, I was putting her life at risk. I’ll never be late again.” 

After surviving this ordeal, Mikalee now ensures that she and her three children receive their annual flu vaccines every year, on or before October 1st. 

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