“Evie was a healthy and happy 4-month-old baby, but on Friday 15 April 2016 she just wasn't her happy little self at all.
She kept spiking a high temperature and had a viral rash around her arms, legs and tummy.
“Around teatime she was still spiking a temperature of 40 degrees so I decided I would get her checked over at our out of hours GP service as our practice was now shut. We were sent home with a diagnosis of hand, foot and mouth and advised to give Calpol and ibuprofen.
“She went in her crib when I got home with her and she slept until around 3am. When she woke her temperature had rocketed to 40 degrees again. I tried for hours throughout the night to get it down and settle her but her temperature wasn't budging and she was so irritable. She just cried, but cried even more if I tried to comfort her. It's the worst feeling in the world not being able to settle a poorly baby.
“At that point I started to think something is really not right with her. By 9am I decided to take her back to the out of hours GP. We were seen at around 10am and, by this point, Evie was red hot. Her skin was pale, she had cold hands and feet and a droning cry. She was irritable and hadn't fed for 17 hours and had a bulging soft spot on her head.
Happy for her to go home again!
“The GP agreed with the diagnoses from the night before and he was happy for her to go home again! The way I looked at him, probably in desperation, must have been noticeable, because he then offered for us to have a second opinion from a paediatrician in the children's ward if I wanted to.
“The decision was left to me and to be honest I was still thinking well he must be right surely? He's a doctor! But my instinct kicked in and I knew something wasn't right. Evie is my fourth child and I have never seen a baby look so poorly before. Never did I even suspect meningitis but I knew it was serious.
“By the time we got to the children's ward Evie was unresponsive and just sleeping in my arms. The paediatrician checked her over and the atmosphere suddenly changed. I could tell something was wrong. Then he said ‘I’m pretty sure she has meningitis; I'm taking her straight away for a lumbar puncture.’ My whole world fell apart right there in that room. She was so poorly, so flat and I just couldn't take it in.
“She was back with me after a little while with intravenous antibiotics running into her tiny veins. The blood tests and lumbar puncture results came back a short while later - she had meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.
We stayed so strong for her
“I have never felt so scared in my whole life, but as a family we stayed so strong for her. It was heart-breaking to see her in the cot crying and not be able to handle her or comfort her. The most natural thing to do with your crying baby is to pick them up but her tiny body was so sore we just couldn't. She couldn't even take a feed from me so she was tube fed to keep her comfortable.
“Evie was in hospital for 10 days and responded brilliantly to the antibiotic treatment. She is making a fantastic recovery although there are still lots of milestones to reach and check-ups to go through. But she is an absolute little star and we are so proud of her every day. I cannot thank the paediatrician enough - he saved my baby's life and I will be forever grateful for that.
Want to raise awareness
“I want to raise awareness of this awful disease and remind people that there isn't always a rash. The rash is usually the last symptom so never wait for it and always trust your instinct if you feel something’s just not right - get a second opinion. I count my lucky stars every day that I did. If I’d taken the first doctor’s advice and taken Evie home she wouldn't be here today and that breaks my heart. We put our trust in these people. Thank you for reading Evie’s story. I hope it helps somebody else.”