“I have a swimming pool in my backyard. I go swimming in that as much as I can,” Kali Hardig told ABC News’ “20/20.” “In fact I was in it yesterday for I don't know how long.”
Hardig was swimming at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, last summer, when she became sick with a fever, nausea and severe headaches.
“I started with a real bad headache, and all of the sudden the headache just started getting worse, so I told momma,” Hardig said.
“And I knew when her eyes rolled back in her head, I knew something bad was wrong,” Traci Hardig, Kali’s mother, told “20/20.”
“Naegleria is an infection that you can’t get by just swallowing some water. The water actually has to get splashed up your nose,” said Dr. Matthew Linam, who treated Kali at the time. “The amoeba, when it’s out in the environment, uses bacteria as a food source. Once it gets in the brain, it doesn’t have those bacteria for food so it starts attacking nerve cells as food.”
After her ordeal, Hardig said she was scared to come in contact with water, even to take showers, at first.
“I was afraid to take a shower because I know that I got it from water, and I was thinking that it could be from all kinds of water, that it could be in the shower,” she said.
When asked about whether she wishes to forget the ordeal, Hardig said, “Actually I hope I never forget it because it's something that I've got to experience but never want to experience again."