Thankfully though, Lennon responded well to antibiotics and went on to make a good recovery. Laura, from Cockermouth in Cumbria, recounts their story here.
“It was 5am on what I thought was a normal Wednesday morning. Our baby boy Lennon, aged 4 months at the time, woke from his sleep and I assumed he had woken for his usual early morning feed.
“I lifted him from his cot and he felt red hot. His skin was like touching a hot water bottle! We had moved house just weeks before and I couldn’t find our thermometer, but I immediately stripped him off, gave him a dose of Calpol and his bottle and laid him next to me. I watched him closely until our GP surgery opened at 8am, when I rang to ask if he could be seen by a doctor. Luckily, they told me to bring him straight in.
“Lennon hadn’t been unwell in the slightest before this temperature, in fact quite the opposite. He had been really content and settled. Once I was in the doctors’ waiting room I noticed a change in him and my gut instinct told me there was something really wrong. He was groaning with each breath he took and his skin began to look a horrible pale shade I’ve never seen before.
Straight to hospital
“The doctor checked his temperature first of all and found it to be 39.9. That was after Calpol. He failed to find a reason for it such as an ear or throat infection and wanted me to take Lennon straight to our local hospital paediatrics to be assessed because his breathing and heart rate were fast. At this point I began to really worry, but also assumed that if the doctor was letting us make our own way to hospital, rather than in an ambulance, then it couldn’t be anything too major.
“We arrived at the children’s ward at around 9.15am and he was quickly assessed. It was initially assumed he had a kidney infection because there were dots of red blood in his wet nappy.
“By now he was really starting to dislike being held and handled and I felt totally helpless. My husband Daniel went with Lennon whilst he had a cannula fitted into his hand and antibiotic treatment was started by around 10am that day. At this point no-one had suggested meningitis to us but I later found out that the antibiotic they issued was a preventative measure as this was what they suspected.
“He quickly deteriorated. He was violently vomiting and his fontanelle had began to swell and felt very hard to touch. It was at this point we were told it was likely he had meningitis and that the following morning he would have to have a lumbar puncture. That night was probably the scariest night of our lives. We didn’t for a second leave his side. It felt like I watched his every breath; his every blink.
“The Thursday morning he was taken from us to have the lumbar puncture. We sat waiting for what felt like forever whilst we listened to him scream. The doctor who did the procedure came back in to tell us that unfortunately the spinal fluid they drew from Lennon looked cloudy to the naked eye and this was a fairly strong indication that he had meningitis. It would now be sent off to see what strain he had.
“My whole world came crashing down. I remember feeling like my heart was being ripped from my chest. The heartache and worry about what would happen to my baby boy physically hurt me.
Obsessing over any little changes
“The next few days were really tough. We were in a bubble of temperature spikes, cannulas collapsing and obsessing over any little changes.
“The Saturday night was a huge changing point in Lennon’s journey. Our local hospital informed us we would have to make the two-and-a-half hour journey via ambulance to the RVI in Newcastle, where he would have an operation to fit a midline because all of his cannulas had failed and they had no other sites left on his body to try to find a vein.
“I went with him in the ambulance and my husband followed on behind us in the car. Once we arrived at the RVI, Lennon’s temperature had risen again and was now 40.3. He was given paracetamol and ibuprofen to lower it and we were told to try and settle ourselves for the night ready for him to go to theatre on the Sunday morning.
Noticed Lennon twitching
“We were both exhausted. Almost a week of topping and tailing on a single camp bed in hospital had taken its toll and we both tried to get some rest. I woke at around 4.30am and noticed Lennon twitching. I watched him closely for a few minutes and then rang the buzzer for help. He went on to have a huge focal seizure, which lasted 15 minutes. He had doctors all around him and I couldn’t bear to watch.
“Once controlled with diazepam, he was cannulated and taken to have a CT scan of his brain to check for damage. Immediately after we had to hand him over to theatre staff for him to go under anaesthetic and have his midline fitted. It wasn’t even lunch time and my baby boy had been through more than some people do in a lifetime. I was a wreck and it felt like an eternity until he was back from theatre.
Started to improve
“Over the following days we started to see a big improvement. His temperature spiked less and less, he began to smile again at times and respond to our voices. It finally felt like we were getting over the worst.
“It was confirmed he had pneumococcal meningitis and sepsis and that he would need at least two weeks of IV antibiotic treatment. For the first time, a doctor was able to tell me he was going to get better. Until then, every time I had asked that question I was simply told, "We can’t say but he is in the best place". To know he was on the mend was a huge relief.
An amazing recovery
“During the most difficult days and nights of our journey we prayed like our lives depended on it, and we tried our best not to lose hope.
“We were transferred back to our local hospital and Lennon completed his two weeks of treatment. Bringing him home was nerve-racking. I felt scared to be at home with him without the security of nurses and two-hourly checks.
“Thankfully he has made an amazing recovery. It is now so important to me to raise awareness. So many people I have spoken to since have said they would have waited for a rash before suspecting anything serious and this perception of meningitis needs to change.
“We have been working hard for our fundraising event, Lennon’s Toddle Waddle, which we have just held, raising over £2,000 for Meningitis Now.”