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Bonnie T's story

4th May 2017

Eleven-day-old Bonnie had a temperature, was lethargic and floppy, not eating and screamed when touched. But it was only weeks later during what she thought was a routine check-up that Donna, from Barrhead in Glasgow, discovered her daughter had contracted viral meningitis. She tells their story here

Bonnie T's story

“Bonnie's 11th day on this earth started with her crying, the usual sound of a newborn.

This cry was different though, and although she was only 11-days-old I knew something wasn't right. She was screaming, but her eyes were closed and she wasn't really awake.

“I felt her forehead and ran for the thermometer. It read 39 degrees. We agreed to wait 20 minutes until the doctors opened, thinking and hoping that she probably had a cold. I called the surgery the second it opened … it was Saturday! We were in that part of having a newborn where you don't know what day it is!

Screamed louder

“I called out of hours and explained what was happening. By now she screamed louder if we touched her and her temperature had risen to 41 degrees. She wouldn't feed and I was really beginning to panic. We were sent to the hospital. As soon as we arrived we were taken to the kids’ ward.

“I still had a hope that we were ‘wasting their time’. As soon as we got to the ward her temperature was taken, and then my head started spinning. The words lumbar puncture set me off into a horrendous panicked crying fit. They took her out of her car seat and took her away. They came back after 50 minutes to say they couldn't get a cannula in her tiny hand and was it okay to put it elsewhere?

“After another hour, they returned with Bonnie, who had a cannula in the side of her head, a shaved patch on each side of her head and was already hooked up to IV antibiotics. My world fell to pieces. We thought she had a cold.

Being kept in

“The doctor said she was being kept in for at least five days to continue with four different types of antibiotics, plus one oral. I was breastfeeding, so I stayed with her and my husband Chris came back and forth when he could, in between looking after our son Benjamin. His work was fantastic and gave him an extra week off - those guys are amazing!

“I spent a week in a hospital room with Bonnie. She didn't want to be fed and she couldn't bear to be touched by me. I haven't cried so much, or felt so useless in my whole life. It truly was the worst time of my life.

“I didn't allow myself to think the worst, how could I? Meningitis was mentioned a couple of times, but wasn't confirmed. No one seemed to know what the problem was. It took four days just to get her temperature down. She had paracetamol and ibuprofen, along with all the antibiotics. I was told to leave the window ajar at all times to allow some air in.

Special place in my heart

“Chris popped in and out with food and clean clothes and my mum was fab and took Benjamin as much as she could (we didn’t want him seeing his baby sister the way she was) and she came to visit Bonnie and me every day. Texts from friends, these things all kept me going, as much as they see it as nothing. I have a special place in my heart for those people who managed to make me laugh that week.

“Finally, on day four, Bonnie's temperature started to go down and she was awake more. She was happy to feed again, and even happier to cuddle. From there on she just got better and better, until on day seven we were told that we could take her home, with a five day course of oral antibiotics. We still had no answer to what had been wrong with her.

My jaw hit the floor

“A few weeks passed and I took Bonnie to hospital for a check-up. They wanted to keep a close eye on her. Chris didn't come as we figured ‘it was just a check-up’. The doctor called me in and told me that they had found the culprit after all ... so weeks later, we found out that it was viral meningitis after all. My jaw hit the floor.

“The doctor told me that due to it now being confirmed as meningitis, they wanted to keep an eye on her hearing for a couple of years as the effects on the inflammation of the brain lining can be massive. So far, so good on that front, Bonnie's hearing it fine. I'm so glad I trusted my instincts that morning. Sometimes you just know!

“I'm very cautious with Bonnie now. I've been to the GP and out of hours more times than I could probably count. The experience has definitely changed me, every time Bonnie gets a cold I'm terrified that there is something terrible wrong with her. She is 13 months now and thankfully just your normal cheeky baby with no after effects at all.”

Bonnie T viral meningitis