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Max Y's story

20th October 2016

Bristol mum Rachel was used to her young son Max having the sniffles, but she knew straight away when he came down with something more serious. She tells their story here

Max Y's story

“Max had started nursery at 6-months-old, so by the time he was 9-months-old he had had more bugs, temperatures and snotty noses than we care to remember, but this one wasn’t like the others.

“Max wasn’t himself, he wouldn’t be put down and his temperature was soaring - I called my husband who was working away and, for the first time, I asked him to come home straight away.

“We called NHS Direct and the GP, monitored his temperature and were assured that as long as his temperature was below 40, not to worry too much, but I wasn’t convinced – so much so that I didn’t let my husband go to work the following day either.

“His grandparents came to visit and Max seemed to perk up slightly with a few smiles, but I couldn’t shake the worry. He still had a temperature, but his hands and feet were cold and he seemed vacant – as if his eyes were on me, but he was looking straight through me! I can only describe it as trance like!

Comfort and cradle him

“Again, as night approached, Max wouldn’t be put down. He would go mad crying if we even attempted it which was so unlike him, so my husband and I took it in one hour shifts to comfort and cradle him.

“At about 5am Max started to twitch on his left side. This escalated and his little body arched backwards and he began to violently fit, still isolated to his left side! His eyes were wide open and part of his fit was vocal. It was awful. We called an ambulance.

“The paramedics administered a muscle relaxant to try to curb the seizure, but it didn’t touch it and when a second dose still did nothing we were blue lighted into BCH (Bristol Children’s Hospital). They worked on Max for 1½ hours but they couldn’t stop his seizure and therefore were finding it impossible to help him.

We felt helpless

“His heart rate was dangerously high, he still had his eyes wide open and his little voice was still going. I sang him Postman Pat by his ear – no idea if he could hear me and he had dust or dirt on his eyes. We felt helpless.

“There was no choice but to put Max into an induced coma. They explained to us the possible risks this can carry for a baby, including the very real possibility that he may never be able to breathe for himself again, but this was the only option to stop the fitting so that they could conduct a brain scan.

“Max went for a CAT scan that showed fluid on the right side of his brain, hence the seizure on the left side of his body. A lumbar puncture was performed, which confirmed that Max had bacterial meningitis (pneumococcal). We heard ‘meningitis’ and expressed our confusion to the doctor – he had no rash! The doctors said to look closely and Max did have a pinprick rash, but nothing like the bright red spots we associated with the glass test for meningitis!

It had all happened so fast

“As Max was wheeled to intensive care, the nurse and porter were calling forward to people en-route telling them to cover the eyes of the children that we passed. I looked at our tiny boy, covered in wires, breathing apparatus and blood, surrounded by machines and felt totally devastated ... it had all happened so fast.

“We spent the next four weeks in hospital. It was a blur of doctors, nurses, visitors, tests, medication, good news, bad news, sleepless nights and heartache but all worth it because we got to bring our little fighter home with us.

“The doctors prepared us to expect some neurological damage as well as physical after-effects but we’re pleased to report that he has made an absolutely stunning recovery - back to full health.

Loving life and starting school

“He is 5 now and we couldn’t be prouder of him. He is loving life and has just started school. We, and our friends and family, feel so, so lucky, and because we know that the outcome could have been very different for us, we want to continue to help others when and where we can. So since Max’s recovery we have always championed Meningitis Now and given what we can, when we can – most notably:

  • Debbie Hudson completed a gruelling 100 mile bike ride: the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 on 10th August 2014, raising an amazing £1,161
  • Christina Watson completed the Bristol 10k 2015, raising an amazing £400
  • My lovely colleagues at Buck and Hickman, Bristol hosted a Christmas raffle 2015,raising an amazing £252

"We certainly intend to keep supporting Meningitis Now by fundraising towards the great work they do now and in the future."