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Ethan G's story

18th May 2018

Sarah’s 7-year-old son Ethan’s illness started with a funny squelching in his ear but it quickly developed into a high temperature and he became floppy and sensitive to light, with some sickness

Ethan G's story

Rather than an ear infection Ethan had Group A Streptococcus and meningitis but has fortunately gone on to make a good recovery.

Sarah, from Stone in Buckinghamshire, tells their story here.

“On Tuesday 18 July 2017 Ethan said he had a "funny sound in my ear". By Wednesday "it was squelching" and school called because he said it was hurting. Grandad popped in to give Ethan some Calpol and noticed that Ethan was hot. I figured it was the onset of an ear infection - this wasn't unusual for Ethan.

“He made it through the day but fell asleep at after school club. They expressed their concern because it was so out of character. We walked home together and he just wanted to go to bed. Ethan was a little sick and had a temperature but I really didn't have any additional concerns – it wasn't anything out of the ordinary if Ethan was getting either tonsillitis or an ear infection.

“Overnight, he was sick again and I sat up monitoring his temperature from about 3am. He made it to the sofa in the morning but he just wanted to sleep and not watch the film we chose.

No improvement

“Lunchtime was my benchmark for improvement but there was none, so I called our GP who immediately wanted to see Ethan. At this point Ethan was floppy and sleepy, but still talking. There was no rash and no further vomiting. By 3pm on 20 July Ethan was in the PDU at Stoke Mandeville Hospital instead of being at school enjoying the last days of term.

“Late afternoon, he was admitted with query ear infection/tonsillitis and there were concerns about an irregular heartbeat. I made arrangements for our dogs to be taken care of for the night, convinced we'd be home the next day.

“By midnight Ethan was starting to becoming delirious and the heart monitor was constantly beeping. All of a sudden we were being moved off the wing and into the high dependency room. By the early hours he was on IV antibiotics, nicknamed the 'Domestos of antibiotics' as a precaution. Ethan was slipping in and out of sleep, his little body was exhausted. At this point, there is no option to sleep because it was all so serious and frightening.

“By the morning, we were told that Ethan had Group A Streptococcus infection and we later learned that normal levels are around 30, Ethan's were at 173. The consultant also suspected bacterial meningitis as well.

Meningitis confirmed

“By the Sunday the lumbar puncture and MRI scans confirmed that he did have meningitis. The suspected source was thought to be a pocket of pus in Ethan’s left sinus. We later discovered this was an incidental find and it was more likely to be either an ear infection or the sores he had in his nostrils.

“Remarkably by late Sunday afternoon, Ethan finally started to wake from his ‘hibernation’ and demanded a ham sandwich – we all shed a tear at the beauty of the madness in the moment. He was still sensitive to light and very weak but talking and hungry.

“Ethan was kept in for a total of 11 days. Our small boy endured massive doses of antibiotics both IV and oral, two lumbar punctures, two MRI scans, ultrasound for his heart, constant heart monitoring and of course all the comings and goings of the staff caring for him. We lost count of the number of cannulas that he had in the end. His final IV antibiotics were delivered at home but for the final dose the cannula needed replacing, so we ended up back at hospital for a few hours.

Week of rest and adventure

“His dad Jason managed to take Ethan to Dorset within a few days of the IV line being removed and fed him with wonderfully good food and they had an amazing week packed with rest and adventure. Ethan attended a football course and was given the all clear to fly for our holiday to Portugal. He returned to school full time in September looking healthy and is absolutely thriving. He even grew a few inches over the summer!

“Thankfully Ethan has made an amazing recovery to date with no apparent after-effects other than a slight change to his sight (his left eye drooped noticeably and the vision was disturbed for a short period). He does tire easily as well but in the whole grand scheme of things he is fit and healthy.

“We have a fair few follow-up appointments including abdominal scans and blood tests, hearing tests etc but so far so good. The NHS saved our son’s life; he has walked away from two life threatening, life-changing infections unscathed. Ethan is a very lucky boy, we were in the right place at the right time and he has been given the very best care.

Confident, funny and life-loving

“He is now a confident, funny, life-loving 8-year-old and we couldn't be more grateful for the care he received, from our GP to all the staff involved in his care and recovery and the research into treating meningitis and our family and friends, even the dentist who made sure the enamel on Ethan's teeth is unaffected by the huge doses of antibiotics. School teachers and after school staff have all been incredibly supportive and prepared for any residual headaches etc.

“Ethan has now been signed off by two of three consultants and we are hopeful that he will be signed off completely as the year progresses.

“It was the most frightening experience for all of us and we are so grateful for all of the care and support Ethan continues to receive.”