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Connor W's story

13th August 2021

First-time mum Claire, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, didn’t quite have the magical time she was hoping for when her son Connor was born and at four weeks he was admitted to hospital, where viral meningitis was finally diagnosed

Connor W's story

He was so ill that Claire’s partner was brought home from active service in Afghanistan to be there for the family.

Connor, though, bounced back well and is now a ‘bubbly, kind and crazy 8-year-old’.

“Being a first-time mum is meant to be magical but for me and my son Connor things were very different.

“Week One we had latching problems and Connor was admitted to my local hospital with dehydration and sepsis. After a week he got better and we were allowed home. Things started to look up but then the hot summer weather came, and Connor started with a high temperature.

“On the night of 9 July 2013 Connor, aged four weeks, woke up with a temperature of 39.5. I put it down to the weather at first and asked if anyone had a fan so I could cool the room down as Connor was already in just a nappy.

Not waking for feeds

“He began not wanting to wake up for his feeds and just wanted to sleep, so mother's intuition kicked in and I rang the out of hours doctors to be told to take him straight on to the hospital.

“When we arrived there in the early hours of 10 July 2013, the doctor said he thought it was just a viral infection or tonsillitis. I never knew babies could get tonsillitis.

“Connor’s temperature had got worse, so the doctors wanted to do more tests. I lost count of how many blood tests they did and he also had an ultrasound and MRI scan, which found a heart murmur. We were admitted for observation and Connor was immediately given antibiotics and Calpol. Whilst the doctors were doing their tests it was all a waiting game for the results!

Do a lumbar puncture

“A doctor came in and asked me if they could do a lumbar puncture, as all the blood tests came back clear. I was allowed to take him to the nursing station but was asked to leave whilst they did the lumbar puncture, so I didn't see Connor upset. As I stood outside the room I could hear his cry, which broke my heart.

“Whilst I was waiting for the results Connor’s heart rate kept dropping and he had to be put on oxygen and placed on a heart monitor in case he stopped breathing again. My husband Sam (partner at the time) was in Afghanistan, so the doctors told me to call the RAF to ask to get him home to be there for Connor.

“The results finally came back positive for viral meningitis. The doctors told me Connor had a bad form of viral meningitis and if I hadn't brought him in when I did then things would have been a lot worse. Connor was in hospital for six days getting treatment and my husband was allowed home to be with us.

Viral meningitis played down

“Connor never had any check-ups after his meningitis but did have a check-up for his murmur. I can’t help feeling viral meningitis is played down by doctors as just another viral infection. But seeing my baby fighting for his life, helpless and struggling to breathe, was the hardest time of my life.

“We're not told much about viral meningitis and it needs to be something everyone is made aware of. People get told to look for a rash but in Connor's case he just had a very high temperature and was severely fatigued.

“I count my blessings every day that my son beat viral meningitis.

“Connor is now a bubbly, kind and crazy 8-year-old. We're unaware if viral meningitis has left any long-lasting after-effects on his body as the doctors don't do any check-ups for viral meningitis patients, which I believe is wrong and all patients should receive a check-up. But we just count our blessings that he's here and happy and healthy.

“Knowing my son had viral meningitis made me more aware of this horrible disease. It made me more thankful but was very testing on my mental health, especially as a first-time mum.”