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Alex H's story

28th February 2017

Sinead’s young son Alex was very sleepy and had a high temperature. The young mum, from Lisnaskea in Co. Fermanagh knew something was badly wrong and her doctor agreed. Alex was rushed straight away to hospital where it was touch and go for a while. Sinead recounts their experience here

Alex H's story

“It was a Sunday evening and my beautiful wee boy Alex had been born just two weeks earlier.

“He had slept nearly all night, which I did question as before he had been up every few hours like clockwork. He was lethargic most of the day and had to be woken up to be fed. Feeding him was a task in itself as he kept falling asleep on me. He had been drinking four ounces easily and now it was a struggle to get two into him.

“It was evening time when he started to feel warm. I stripped him down to his vest and waited to see if that would cool him, but he only seemed to get hotter. I knew then something was wrong - newborns aren't meant to have a temperature.

Eyes started to roll

“I phoned out of hours and they gave me an appointment for later that evening. When I made it down to the GP out of hours my son was turning red and was very hot to touch. I tried feeding him in the waiting area and his eyes started to roll back in his head.

“As soon as the doctor saw him he knew he was not right. He took his temperature and it was 39. We were sent straight away to the children's ward. The doctors had him hooked up to an iv almost straight away and decided there was obviously an infection of some sort. They wanted to get antibiotics into him straight away to treat the worst case scenario.

“We spent most of the night getting bloods done and then an x-ray to make sure it wasn't a chest infection, before he had the dreaded lumbar puncture. I remember clearly the doctor saying they wanted to do one on him and me nodding my head in agreement, not even knowing what that tested for.

Broke down crying

“I asked my mum and she said meningitis. That was the first time it entered my head and I broke down crying. How can my poor wee newborn at only a few weeks old have meningitis? It was the worst feeling I've ever felt in my life! His labs had to be sent to a hospital an hour and a half away to be tested, so it seemed like a lifetime before we got his results. Yes he had bacterial meningitis ... Hib meningitis.

“The first few days were rough. His temperature constantly went back and forth from 40 to 38. The doctors said after a few days it should be going down, so he had MRIs done to make sure it hadn't spread to his brain. Thank God it hadn't.

“We found out after a week of being in hospital that he also had viral meningitis. That explained the constant temperature. He recovered well though and I have no doubt the fast actions of the doctors saved his life.

Tough two years

“It’s been a tough two years dealing with the after-effects. He is now nonverbal and we are currently in the process of querying his hearing. He has lost some but we aren't sure if it's the meningitis that affected it or something simple such as glue ear.

“He was constantly sick during the first year of his life with colds and ear infections, which I imagine is because his immune system took a battering.

“But he survived and I count my lucky stars every day - he is my wee warrior. The emotional scars will last a lifetime and I'm definitely not that same person I was before. Any sign of a temperature and I'm panicking. I feel like I'm right back in that hospital waiting to see if my baby will make it through. It's such an awful disease and more and more people need to be made aware of the dangers.”