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Eliza's story

11th November 2014

Eliza brought tears to her consultants’ eyes when she walked out of hospital after battling pneumococcal meningitis. Her mum Pauline tells her story

Eliza's story

"Our nightmare began on Remembrance Day in November 2007. Eliza was a little unwell during the night and had been up since 4am.

When I got home from working an overtime shift at our local hospital I found her to be hot, sleepy and not at all well. I gave her some Calpol and ibuprofen, presuming that she had a stomach bug that was going around.

By tea time she was not improving and I called our out of hours doctors service. Upon seeing her, she was admitted to hospital with dehydration. She was put on a drip to give her fluids. The next day she was getting worse - she was hallucinating and fighting, slipping in and out of consciousness."

Suspected meningitis

"Just after lunch a consultant said: "I suspect either meningitis or encephalitis. Of the two I'd rather it was meningitis, but not if it's pneumococcal. I'm going to order some IV antibiotics straight away."

Not long after this, Eliza complained of a sore neck. A little while later, we went to the treatment room to have a new cannula fitted for the antibiotics to be administered through, and that is when she went blue, was staring and not breathing. The emergency cord was pulled and doctors and anaesthetists were running in to resuscitate her. I was taken to a side room and the hospital chaplain was called in.

A while later, I was told that she had had a massive fit but was now stable. We then awaited our transfer to the paediatric intensive care unit at Stoke on Trent. A lumbar puncture was performed the following day and it came back positive, confirming meningitis.

We were told that she only had an 8% chance of survival and to say our goodbyes to her. Then the strain was confirmed as pneumococcal and we were told to expect that, if she did survive, she would be brain dead.

On the Thursday, we returned to Shrewsbury, with Eliza still in a coma, but now breathing for herself. She remained like this for another few days, and slowly came round, though unable to move. She was like a four-year-old newborn baby."

Getting better

"After a few more days, she slowly got some movement back and the hard slog of rehabilitating her began. We were now being told that she wouldn't walk again, but Eliza is a very determined young lady, and was set to prove them wrong. With the help of physios, occupational therapists, play leaders and everyone else’s efforts, she started to do a bit more, day by day.

A month after she was admitted, she walked (although unsteadily) out of hospital, bringing tears of joy to the consultants’ eyes. A year on, Eliza does have some mobility problems, amongst other things, but she's a very bright little girl in a mainstream school, with her whole life and opportunities in front of her."