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Arran J's story

20th January 2018

Lisa was away on a training course when her baby son Arran became ill but her partner Graeme’s parental instincts kicked in

Arran J's story

Thanks to great support from the local hospital Arran got the treatment he needed in time to pull through – but it was touch and go.

Lisa, from Balloch in West Dunbartonshire, tells their story here.

“I left on the Sunday to go away to Leeds for a week on a training course for work. We live in Scotland and it was the first time I’d left my baby Arran. I was missing my baby boy but knew he would be well looked after by his daddy, Graeme.

“We FaceTimed each night and on the Wednesday night I noticed Arran looked very pale and not himself. I remember saying to Graeme that I thought Arran looked unwell. He said they had walked home from nursery that day as it had been a nice night and he was fine; probably just tired out from the walk, in fact too tired to eat his dinner.

“I called later that night to check how Arran was doing. Mothers’ instinct perhaps but I just wasn’t comfortable. His daddy said he was tired and not himself so he put him to sleep in our bed so he could keep an eye on him. When I asked if he had a temperature I got the typical dad response of ‘he feels okay’. That’s when I said to get the thermometer and keep a check.

Not himself

“I went to bed sad that my wee boy appeared to be not himself and I wasn’t there to help out but with no concerns that it was anything more than a bug. I called early the next morning and Graeme confirmed that Arran had a spiking temperature through the night and was looking paler and was lethargic.

“I went to work with the agreement that Graeme would call and make an appointment with the GP for that day to get him checked over. Graeme called his mum to come round for a second opinion and decided to bath Arran to try and take his temperature down.

“When he took him out of the bath Graeme’s own parental instincts really kicked in and it was when Arran’s legs flopped open uncontrollably when he laid him on the bed to dry him that told him there was something seriously wrong. Graeme and his mum decided to take Arran immediately to the local hospital, which has a minor injuries unit.

Knew he was critical

“It was there a doctor took one look at him and read his vitals and knew he was critical. They called an ambulance immediately to take Arran to the nearest A&E, which was about 45 minutes away.

“The doctor, who we can never thank enough, then took the call that unless he acted Arran might not make the ambulance ride. He spoke to the specialists at the Glasgow Children’s Hospital and they talked him through what to do to keep him alive for the journey. His brave actions and judgement call meant Arran arrived at the hospital in Glasgow with a team of doctors awaiting his arrival.

“He was put into an induced coma as they worked to keep him alive and that was when I got the call to tell me the words that no parent ever wants to hear - Arran had suspected bacterial meningitis and septicaemia.

Worst hours of my life

“I managed to get on a train to Scotland and spent the worst four hours of my life trapped like a caged animal, desperate and helpless and praying for a miracle. When I arrived Arran had been put in PICU in isolation. He had lines and tubes and wires coming out of every part of his tiny body and he looked grey. The only colour he had was the dark purple patches of the rash that had started to emerge in the ambulance

“The doctor explained that they were doing everything they could to keep Arran alive but that it might be at the expense of his hands / arms or feet and legs. I felt numb. The next 48 hours were critical and there was nothing we could do but wait and see how he would respond.

“His dad and I somehow found the strength to get through those days and after three days they said Arran was showing signs of improvement. When they extubated him and told me the first thing he said was "Mummy", I broke down in tears properly for the first time. I felt such relief that he could talk and remembered my name.

Gradually building strength

“Our baby boy fought the disease and kept his arms and legs. He was in hospital for another 10 days gradually building strength, learning to walk again as he was so weak and coping with pain that was clearly all over his tiny body and in particular his head.

“We are just over two years down the line and I am so grateful that our baby boy appears to have come though this ordeal unscathed. He has just been discharged from regular hearing tests as all appears fine.

“We are conscious that his wee easy-going personality changed as a result of this. He became less tolerant and a much grumpier baby after the ordeal he went through. It’s hard to say if this is the result of a brain injury or purely the trauma and pain of what he went through.

Blessed and grateful

“We are blessed and grateful that there was no permanent physical damage to Arran and that he survived where others tragically don’t. However, I often wonder what psychological or emotional impact this has had on him and how it might manifest.

“The same goes for myself and his daddy. I feel overwhelmingly grateful that Arran got through his battle seemingly unscathed but I also feel at times tremendous guilt when I hear of other babies and parents who are not so fortunate. I try to be positive and thankful for all the good in our story.

“The specialists told us that undoubtedly the actions of the doctor at the local hospital were what saved Arran’s life. He held the ambulance back to ensure he did what was necessary to get him to the hospital alive. We are forever grateful to him and all those in the NHS who do the job of superheroes day in and day out.

Share his story

“The speed at which Arran deteriorated was incredible and on the anniversary of his illness I share his story on social media as a reminder to others to know the signs and to act fast and trust their instincts as parents. That’s what we did and it is the reason we were able to enrol our baby boy today for school this August.

“These landmark events are all the more special as we are acutely aware that things could have been very different for our family.

“We are all physically and emotionally scarred by the after-effects of meningitis but we use our experience now to educate and inform others as best we can."