PERU - When Danyell Dousharm thinks about her daughter, Nichelle, she remembers her as "an upbeat child" who was "always enjoying life."
"She was my tomboy. It was very seldom I could get her in a dress," recalled Dousharm.
She and her husband, Bryan, suffered a devastating loss when Nichelle unexpectedly passed away April 24. It was earlier that week when Nichelle developed a high-grade fever, which her mother treated at home with Tylenol and a cool bath. After a few days, the fever wasn't letting up, said Dousharm, leading her to bring Nichelle to the hospital.
However, tests were inconclusive. Nichelle's stomach was enlarged but conditions such as urinary tract and kidney infections were ruled out, said Dousharm.
"We couldn't figure out what was causing the fever," said Dousharm.
Nichelle was put on medication that was believed would correct the problem, said her mother, but the Dousharms soon found themselves back in the hospital a day later.
"Her stomach was even bigger than before," said Dousharm.
Ultimately, Nichelle was sent to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., where she was put through a battery of tests and X-rays.
"We went from her being okay, to being admitted into the hospital to having to go to Vermont," said Dousharm.
Nichelle's parents met with her following a colonoscopy she had to undergo, and, initially, Nichelle seemed fine, said her mother.
"We asked her if she was okay and she just said she was cold. The next thing we know, we were getting shipped out of the room because she crashed," said Dousharm.
The exact cause of Nichelle's death is still a mystery to the Dousharms at this point, as they await results of a full autopsy. It hasn't been easy for the family, living with the uncertainty. Yet, they manage.