"There's something wrong. I don't know what it is."
That was all Erica Van Zuidam could tell her parents when she called from Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign, IL, in May 2005. She was then a freshman at the University of Illinois (U of I), studying to be a high-school math teacher. Earlier in the day she had thought she had the flu.
But Van Zuidam had bacterial meningitis. She remained in an induced coma for nearly 7 weeks, during which she was transferred to the University of Chicago Medical Center. There she was awakened from her coma to harsh realities. On July 11, Van Zuidam's right leg and part of her left leg were amputated. On July 18, both of her arms were amputated below the elbow; and on July 29 the remainder of her left leg below the knee was removed.
Van Zuidam is curretnlty in the graduate occupational therapy classes at Rush University in Chicago. She told ADVANCE she is looking forward to her clinicals and determining what area of OT she'd like to be her focus.
To read more about her story, click here.
Photos courtesy Leo Garcia - Rush Photo/Rush University Medical Center unless otherwise noted.