Rapides Parish teen’s death shows danger of flu

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The best protection, Holcombe said, is vaccination. The local Office of Public Health ran through its supply of vaccine months ago, but the shot is available at many other places, including pharmacies. Washing your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap is not available, also helps.

Tyler Wood first developed a cough on New Year’s Eve, a Tuesday. His mother took him to the emergency room Friday. He was diagnosed with acute bronchitis, given shots, a prescription and an IV, and sent home.

He didn’t seem to be getting better. The family went back to the ER Monday morning.

Despite oxygen and antibiotics, his breathing was so labored that doctors got permission to put him on a ventilator.

“He just kept going downhill,” Wood said. “It all happened so fast.”

Over five days in the hospital, the infection in his lungs kept spreading. Doctors told Wood they needed a miracle. Finally, they told her it was time to say goodbye.

“I told him he didn’t have to fight anymore,” she said. “I told him I was behind whatever decision he made. That was between him and God, and I would honor it.”

When family and friends buried him on Jan. 13, the funeral procession seemed to stretch forever. Nearly 1,000 people signed the guest book at his wake and funeral.

“I’m grateful for everybody’s prayers and thoughts,” Wood said. “That’s the only way I’m going to make it through this.”

Those who Tyler left behind remember him as wild but big-hearted - the kind of kid who could drive you crazy one minute and make you love him the next.

He was babied by his mother and not immune to trouble, his family said, but was never selfish or mean-spirited. If he knew a kid needed something to eat or a place to stay, he brought the kid home.

“He was the jokester, the one who kept everybody laughing,” Cedus said. “He loved his friends and family. He was just pure boy - rippin’ and roarin’ and living his life. He had a wild side, but in all the years of knowing him, I can’t remember one disrespectful thing he said or did to me.”

Tyler lived every day like it was his last,” Wood said. “He used to say, ‘Mama, no disrespect, but I’m gonna do what I want to do,’ and he did. I have no regrets about that now. I’m glad he lived life the way he wanted to live life.”



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