Lauren recognised her daughter was declining rapidly and fortunately she was in the right place to get her daughter the treatment she urgently needed when her meningitis was diagnosed. Lauren tells their story here.
“Megan had just celebrated her 3rd birthday. Around two weeks later she came down with a common cold, which lasted a few days. As she was getting over this, on 29 November, she woke up as normal and seemed fine, with just a little cough that had stuck around.
“Around 11am that day Megan wanted to go back to sleep, so we allowed her to have a little nap for an hour. We then tried to wake her and kept prompting her to drink as we noticed her temperature had gone up. Megan didn't want to be bothered and just kept wanting to go back to sleep.
“It was around 2pm when we noticed Megan's first twitch. This is what raised the alarm for us. Megan's whole body just did a twitch which raised both her arms in sync. Megan then did this again within 10 minutes of the first twitch, so I contacted the GPs’ surgery immediately. An appointment was made for an hour later. Whilst at the appointment a purple bruise mark was found on Megan's nipple. This was discarded as a possible trauma to the skin.
“After attempting to gain a urine sample at the surgery Megan twitched again in the toilet as I tried to make her stand. I ran back into the doctors’ room and told them Megan twitched again. At this stage I felt extremely worried by all Megan's symptoms.
“The GPs advised that it could be a UTI but as they were unable to get a urine sample they would refer Megan to the hospital to be seen that afternoon. However, they didn't seem at all worried like I was by Megan's rapid decline that day. At this point Megan couldn't stand and just wanted to be asleep. She was extremely lethargic and her temperature was 39.6.
Asleep on my lap
“We arrived at Royal Gwent Paediatrics A&E at 5pm and had to wait for half an hour to be seen. Megan was still asleep on my lap. When Megan’s name was called our worst nightmare began. As I carried Megan to be seen she had a seizure in my arms. I had to run with her through to the beds where nurses instantly tried to control the seizure.
“They then took off Megan's top to reveal a red blotchy rash that was starting to cover her little body. My whole body became limp. No one could talk, there was chaos around us trying to get lines into Megan as soon as possible.
“Megan was then rushed through to resus, where the doctors and nurses spent what felt like a lifetime saving her life. I was there singing to her and helping to hold an oxygen mask over her face as she was crying in pain. At every point of Megan's body there were nurses and doctors with syringes trying to get into her little veins, until they then had to act urgently and drill holes into her shin bones to administer all the drugs she needed.
Put on life support
“We were then told that they will need to sedate Megan and put her on a life support machine as she is critically ill. I was then informed that they suspected meningitis and septicaemia and had administered the correct drugs to deal with this, but the next 48 hours would be critical.
“I remember the hours we spent in resus trying to get Megan stable. It was like being trapped in some horrendous nightmare. We felt helpless and empty as parents and seeing our little girl in that amount of distress will haunt us forever. Megan was transferred by the Bristol WATCH Team to Cardiff’s Noah’s Ark Intensive Care Unit that night.
“The next morning when we walked back onto the intensive care ward we were numb; this did not seem real. You looked around you and saw the room filled with other children fighting for their lives, it was devastating. There was our Megan in the end bed, number 12. She looked so peaceful I was scared to hold her hand; there were so many wires and I was scared to hurt her.
“Each day felt like a month. The doctors and nurses were amazed by Megan's consistent recovery. They were able to reduce her medications and she was responding incredibly to this. They then started to introduce liquid food to see how she would cope with it and again Megan battled through like a princess warrior. The nurses who cared for Megan on the PICU ward are truly amazing - they helped Megan to fight and they gave us strength.
“She continued to improve day by day and stunned doctors with her recovery. After five days in intensive care they took Megan off all her medication and were ready to wake her. It was 3 December when I saw the nurse walk back up the corridor to find us. Jenny her name was and as I looked at her face and she beamed with a smile and said "she's awake".
Shaking with fear
“I remember shaking with fear and running into the ward to see Megan. There she was, very sleepy, but we sang to her and she started to lip sync to it. As the nurse tried to prop her up on the pillow Megan said 'ouch'. This was overwhelming, I had forgotten what she sounded like; I had forgotten my little girl!
“We were then transferred to a ward. I remember feeling incredibly scared at this. Megan had been so ill I was scared to be anywhere else. She continued to improve each day but was traumatised to be in hospital. When doctors and nurses walked in our room Megan would cry with fear and tuck herself into me; she was petrified. It was decided that Megan would benefit by recovering further at home in her normal surroundings. The doctors and nurses at the Royal Gwent and Cardiff Noah’s Ark are incredible and without them Megan would not be here today.
“On 7 December we came back home with Megan although she was not walking. It was extremely hard as she was emotional and still in a lot of pain, especially in her legs and groin where she had the lines in. However, with the help of her 15-month-old brother Jaxon she gained her confidence and within three weeks had started to walk again and gain some strength back in her legs and body.
Incredibly brave little girl
“Megan has been an incredibly brave little girl and has made a full recovery from this awful, devastating infection. We have been so lucky to have survived this but we know first-hand how deadly meningitis can be. We have been told by numerous doctors that if we hadn’t been at the hospital at that time then Megan's chances of survival would have been minimal. We understand how speed is crucial when facing any suspected meningitis cases.
“I would like to help raise awareness in any way possible to help in tackling meningitis. My 15-month-old boy had the MenB vaccination but Megan didn’t, as she was born before it was introduced. I can't help but feel things would have been different for Megan if she had had the vaccination.
“Some people don't get to tell our story of survival and this is truly devastating. I feel I need to help in any way I can to raise awareness of this horrendous infection. I feel compelled to share my story of how our little Megan nearly died from this infection and luckily survived.“