The year is 2014. Shannon Zwanziger is 17 years old. On Wednesday, says Gwen Zwanziger, (mother) Shannon came home after school and said a friend gave her the flu. Gwen treated her with the common remedy of early sickness: fluid, applesauce, and soup. Her dad also brought her throat lozenges, throat spray, and Tylenol. She then acquired a low grade fever, but it wasn’t high enough for a hospital visit. Later that week, she was feeling better, but it was not obvious to her parents whether she was faking it or not. This is a common experience with ill children. By Sunday, she was acting weak. She was using her phone, but not eating and was lethargic. Gwen made a diary of temperature degrees and drink intake, and sent it with her and her father Terry to the clinic.
After returning home from the visit, Shannon commented that the visit to the clinic was a waste of time. The doctor said it was in fact the flu, but that they should let it ‘run its course.’ The doctor didn’t get to spend much time with her, as he had a waiting room packed with other flu patients. Shannon’s high school also had about 150 kids out with the flu. A little over a day later, Shannon needed help with a shower. Gwen assisted her. This was very alarming as Shannon hadn’t needed help with bathing since she was little. “When she leaned back and I saw her eyes, I knew she was dying,” says Gwen. Gwen lifted her out of the tub and sat with Shannon on the toilet as Shannon died.
Gwen now promotes making sure children and teens are vaccinated, as Shannon chose no
t to get the flu vaccination. She also speaks about taking loved ones seriously when they say they are sick, talking to others about the deadliness of the flu, and keeping children home even if the severity of their illness is doubted. Shannon’s mother talked to CNN this year about their story, which will be included in CNN’s documentary ‘Unseen Enemy’, which will be aired Friday, April 7th at 9 pm on CNN.