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Oscar P's story

20th April 2022

Baby Oscar had developed a strange cry and a high temperature, and stopped feeding. Rather than waiting to see, mum Vicky, from Worsley in Lancashire, trusted her instinct and took him immediately to A&E, a decision she’s certain saved the youngster’s life

Oscar P's story

Oscar had contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia, but now, seven years later, is a happy and healthy boy.

“Oscar was born a perfectly healthy little boy. He came on his due date and weighed 7lbs 8oz. For the first few weeks of his life we were in our happy little newborn bubble, helping his big sister adjust and trying to establish a routine with Oscar.

“He was a content and pretty easy baby. He fed and slept well. It was on 14 November when I left Oscar for the first time to go to the doctors. I was anxious to get back to my little boy and when I arrived he was asleep in his pram.

“It was on the drive home from his Nanna’s when we got stuck in traffic that Oscar let out this screech. I had never heard him do this before, and I put it down to him being due for a feed. For the rest of the journey home he cried like I had never heard him cry before.

Refused his feed

“We got in and the usual bedtime routine began. I made his bottle and ran his bath. The first thing I remember noticing is he completely refused his feed, and the crying didn’t stop. I laid him down on his changing mat and checked his temperature. It was high. He’d never been poorly before but I thought it was just the start of a cold.

“My partner told me to give him some medicine and get him back to sleep. But I just knew something wasn’t right; my gut was telling me this isn’t normal. I rang 111 and they advised I take Oscar to A&E. This saved his life 100%.

“We were sitting in the waiting room and I remember still just thinking he’s caught a bug. He was silent and slept the whole time, he didn’t budge. We were finally called in and from that moment on it was a rollercoaster, which would last a month.

Mottled skin

“The nurse took his observations and it was when she pinpricked his fingers and he didn’t even flinch that she picked up the telephone and rang the children’s unit. We were transferred to the children’s unit where we were taken into a room and I was asked to remove his clothing so they could take a better look at him. This was when the doctor noticed his mottled skin and asked me to hold an oxygen mask over his tiny little mouth.

“I was in shock. I remember still just thinking it’s a bad cold and we’ll be home to his big sister soon. That was until another four doctors and nurses walked into the room. A nurse took over the oxygen mask and the other doctors started getting him hooked up on wires and taking blood samples.

“We were pulled aside and it was explained to us that they were going to have to take Oscar to resuscitation as he was struggling to breathe and was becoming very poorly. This is when the tears came streaming down my face, I couldn’t be strong and I began to think the worst.

Felt like an eternity

“We helplessly followed Oscar to resus and were shown to the family room, where we would sit not knowing what was happening for what felt like an eternity. We had the occasional update, which was mainly that ‘your little boy is very sick, we are trying our best to stabilise him’.

“I was sitting with his car seat and changing bag and his little blue blanket which smelt like him. I wanted my baby back. We still had no idea what was causing him to be so poorly but we were told they were going to drill through his leg to get antibiotics into his bones.

“The door opened and finally we could go and see my baby. I don’t know what I was expecting but when I turned the corner I couldn’t see Oscar. He was in an incubator with wires coming out of his upper thighs and arms, his face was covered with a life support machine and I just broke down.

“A nurse sat me down and I just repeatedly asked her if he’s going to die. I told her I couldn’t lose him. We were blue lighted to Manchester Children’s Hospital, where again we faced an agonisingly long wait whilst they stabilised Oscar once again in intensive care.

Fighting for his life

“When we eventually got to see our tiny three weeks old baby it was heart-breaking. A machine was doing his breathing for him, his face was swollen because of all the fluids they were pumping into his body and our tiny baby boy was lying there fighting for his life.

“We stayed by his side day and night, watching doctors and nurses fight for his life. The first day in intensive care was the worst for me. I felt like the nurses were working on him all day, constantly needing stabilising. It was the worst experience of my life. A lumbar puncture revealed that Oscar had meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

“Day three in intensive care was another tough day, it’s when he began having seizures, which showed that his brain was under pressure. We felt helpless when we had to stand and watch him having seizures, but there was nothing we could do to stop them. The seizures stayed for a few weeks and he was put on medicine to help control them.

“By day eight he was brought off his life support machine. My baby could breathe for himself and this was when I felt ready to take my first photo of Oscar. At the time he was connected to his life support and I just couldn’t stand there taking pictures, it didn’t feel right, but looking back I wish I had so that I can show him what a little fighter he was.

Able to feed my baby

“As the days went by we were moved to a high dependency unit and this is where for the first time I was able to feed my baby, he was no longer on a feeding tube. I could hold my baby and feed him. It was amazing but so scary.

“In his third week at hospital we found out that Oscar had been left with brain damage in his left frontal lobe. I was devastated. I felt like I should just be grateful he was still with me but at the time I did not know what this meant for Oscar. Would this be something that would impair the rest of his life? Google searches told me the left frontal lobe is responsible for controlling emotions and language, the future for Oscar was unknown for us.

“We were also told that because he is so small and his body is still developing the damage will always be there but the brain could grow around the damage and he could lead a perfectly healthy life.

Coming home

“After another week on a ward we were allowed to come home. My baby was coming home!

‘He was still on seizure medicine but he would eventually be weaned off this. We had development check-ups every few months and other than a few vacant episodes we have never had many major concerns.

“I am a natural worrier and still to this day I over analyse everything with Oscar. I always wonder if the brain did outgrow the damage or whether aspects of him are because of what he experienced. I realise now he is just a typical little boy, boisterous, happy and adventurous! He is extremely intelligent – at 4 years old he knew his 12 times tables! He teaches me new things every day.

“This experience has changed me as a person. I am scared of losing anyone I love, I google every symptom and I always worry I am going to still lose him. We nearly lost our little boy many times in those early days but he was strong and he stayed with us and we are unbelievably thankful.

Follow your instincts

“My advice to anyone is to follow your instincts where your child is concerned. Had we put Oscar to bed that night we would have lost him in the night.

“I used to sit and scroll through all the stories on the Meningitis Now website. I needed to know my little boy was going to be okay in the end. Knowing there was somewhere where I could turn to with my concerns about Oscar was important.

“I believe I was left traumatised from my experience even though it has a happy ending. I constantly believe I am going to lose Oscar even though I have two other children. Every single cold or bug in my household I have the urge to rush them to A&E. I have controlled this now but in those early days Oscar had a lot of visits to hospital for things that could have been treated at home.

“Oscar is now 7 years old and is an amazing little boy, happy, intelligent, quirky and healthy!”