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Aimee R’s story

24th June 2017

Aimee’s mum Angel, from Exeter in Devon, assumed her 2-year-old had caught the norovirus bug that was going around. But when she changed her nappy she found purple blood spots and knew it was something more serious. She tells their story here

Aimee R’s story

“We had just celebrated Aimee's second birthday and, as it was the Easter bank holiday weekend, I was off work and decided to have a few lazy days with my baby girl and catch up on rest.

“I woke up as usual, ready to start the day like any other. Aimee was still asleep which was unlike her as she's an early bird. I went in to check on her, which was when I noticed that she had vomited. I scooped her up, popped her into our bed and we started watching Peppa Pig, her favourite TV show at that time.

“I went back into her room to strip her bed and air out the bedroom. I assumed she had caught the norovirus that was going around, so I left her to rest. She didn't want to drink anything. I checked her nappy but it wasn't very wet at all, so I decided rather than disturbing her to leave her for some time.

Shivers down my spine

“About ten minutes later I changed my mind, and went to get her some fresh clothes and nappy. I lifted up her top and undid her nappy. The sight I saw next sent shivers down my spine and I immediately burst into tears. She had purple blood spots, which I knew were an indicator of meningitis. I texted my partner Dean prior to calling 111.

“The operator asked the questions they usually do and then advised me that we had to be in touch with a primary care advisor immediately. They put me on hold and connected me to my local out of hours doctors.

“The doctor asked me the same questions again. They told me they needed to see Aimee within the hour. ‘As you know, she has symptoms of meningitis, it may not be that, but we need to rule it out. Are you able to bring her in?’

“‘Yes’, I answered - my stomach churning.

“‘Do you have transport or would you like me to send an ambulance?’

“‘No, I'll ask a family member.’

“‘Okay, only if you're sure. If you can't get transport then ring me back straight away and I will send an ambulance out to you. This is a medical emergency.’ That's pretty much how the call ended. I hung up and cried my heart out. I had hoped in my heart that it wasn't meningitis, but a part of me already knew before I called.

Rushed through to resus

“We got to the hospital and were called straight in by the duty doctor. She took one, very quick glance at the rash, before rushing us through to resus.

“There were three or four medical professionals waiting for us. They had needles and medication ready for Aimee. She was stripped down, monitors attached immediately to her, and a cannula put in her hand to administer antibiotics.

“We were in resus for about an hour before being wheeled around to the paediatric high dependency unit where she had a cubicle. Aimee's dad and my other half, Dean, had arrived by this point. And it was then that it started to sink in just how serious this was. Seeing our poor baby hooked up to monitors and IV meds and fluids was absolutely heart-breaking.

So many questions

“We had so many questions we wanted to ask. The main one of course was ‘is she going to die?’ The doctor couldn't answer such questions as they just didn't know how serious Aimee's illness was and how she would react to treatment. All we were told was ‘the next few days are critical.’

“I spent the next three days crying. Aimee was at her weakest point in life, and there was nothing we could do for her. We watched her vomit, we saw her prodded with needles several times a day, and we watched her cry in discomfort. I felt weak and utterly useless – I was supposed to protect my baby and I failed at the one thing I shouldn't have. Of course, I don't feel this now, but at the time everything goes through your head.

Smiling and laughing again

“Aimee perked up bit by bit each day. By day four she was smiling and laughing again. She even managed to sit up in her bed to enjoy a story with her nanny. That evening the doctors decided to move her out of high dependency. She responded amazingly to treatment and they were really pleased with how she was looking. She was sent down for a hearing test, which came back clear.

“Day five came and that's when Aimee was well enough to come home. She was eating and drinking again, and starting to act more like herself again. We had to go back for a further five days for her antibiotics, but it was such a wonderful feeling to be able to take her home where she belonged and to be a family again.

“Aimee had to go for regular hearing tests for 18 months, which have been all fine and she's now been discharged. I feel that her development is slightly slower because of the illness; however she hasn't any long-term effects.

Happy and starting school

“She is 4 now. She's had a serious illness since the meningitis, but now seems to be a healthy, happy child who is due to start primary school in September.

“We thank our lucky stars above that we get to watch our little miracle grow up. The outcome of her illness could have been devastating. There are still times where I sit and think about her meningitis and I don't think that will ever leave us. We know how lucky we are. We have since had another baby, Charlotte, and Aimee absolutely adores her baby sister.

“I often check the Meningitis Now website for updates of treatments, and it has given me the guidance I need to get past this. I am always anxious of every rash my children show signs of but I now know the warning signs and symptoms to look for.”