“We are a military family and on that awful day that changed all our lives we were packing up due to another posting.
“Oliver was born premature at 36 weeks and he was small at only five pounds in weight. Oliver was only three weeks of age on that day.
“It had been a normal day and I have a photograph of Oliver smiling for the first time. However, at 5pm I tried to feed him but he seemed irritated and let out a loud painful cry. He whimpered a while and then settled.
“At 11.00pm I tried to feed him again but his mouth appeared clamped shut and I could not get the bottle into his mouth. He was pale and floppy and his eyes appeared glazed.
“I was very concerned but thought the GP would think I was an over-anxious mother. Much to my shame, I decided to wait until his next feeds.
Strange moaning sounds
“I tried to wake Oliver at 2am. He was making strange moaning sounds. However, he would make purring sounds when sleeping. I tried to feed him again but everything was as before.
“We phoned the GP who insisted on coming out to us. He arrived at 2.45am, checked Oliver but could find no obvious cause for infection. He did stress that we had a very ill baby and must drive him straight away to hospital. He said we did not have time to wait for an ambulance.
“At the local hospital it was confirmed that Oliver had suspected meningitis and was being transferred to Aberdeen Children’s Hospital. We were told to touch him before he left with doctors and nurses in the ambulance. We were told that if the ambulance stopped on the journey we were to carry on driving.
“At the Children’s Hospital we were met by the ward sister and taken to the families’ room. A doctor came to us, saying our baby was critically ill and had neonatal E Coli bacterial meningitis.
“He was placed into intensive care with 24 hour one-to-one nursing. We were asked if we wanted a priest to baptise him as it was essential it be done quickly.
“Oliver went into seizure status for 36 hours. He developed a bleed on his brain and suffered a huge amount of damage to most of the right side of his brain.
“Oliver’s recovery was very slow and he spent ten weeks in hospital, eight in ITU.
The same strain again
“Sadly, when he was discharged, after two weeks he developed the same strain of meningitis again. This time we recognised it straight away and had to fight a new hospital in Swindon (we were posted whilst Oliver was in hospital) to take our concerns seriously.
“It took them over three hours to give him a lumbar puncture and start on antibiotics. They simply did not believe he had meningitis again and were shocked when his culture grew E Coli again.
“Oliver has been left with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, anxiety and learning problems. We were told he would not be able to walk or talk. However, how wrong those doctors were. Oliver has played football for the CP England development team, was ranked third best in the country for 200 metre CP athletics and achieved a grade G in GCSE maths.
“Life has been very challenging, with Oliver’s 17 years being filled with endless hospital appointments, but he is an inspiration to all of us.”