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Parker's story

29th October 2019

Penny and her husband feared the worst when nurses took them aside and prepared them to say goodbye to their daughter Parker. Their baby daughter was being induced into a coma and they had no idea what was ahead

Parker's story

Luckily, this story has a happy ending. Penny, from Weymouth in Dorset, tells us what happened.

“On the night of 23 June 2016 our daughter Parker was 10 weeks old and seemed to have a lot of wind, she could not get comfortable and she had a hard tummy making us believe she had a tummy ache.

“The following day, I took her to the doctors as she was refusing milk. The doctor did not check her heart rate or take her temperature. Looking back I wish I had pressed for everything to be checked because maybe just maybe something could have been picked up earlier. As a new mum I was sure I was worrying over nothing. I was told she had a diarrhoea bug and it should pass within 24 hours.

“The following day, I could not get her take any milk and she slept pretty much the whole day on and off. That evening her temp spiked at 38.6 degrees, she was asleep but had a moaning cry.

“I called 111 and was asked a number of questions - the main one being 'does she have a rash', which she did not. The nurse I spoke to on the phone commented that she could hear her and said I needed to go within the next hour to the local hospital. I explained my husband had gone out for the evening and that he was trying to come back. She said that I will have to drive and just accept she will cry in the back of the car and that it was NOT an emergency because she did not have a rash.

Panic set in

“Luckily my sister-in-law came to the rescue and drove us to the hospital and my husband met us there. We were seen very quickly - they checked her heart and said that must be wrong, her heart rate was up near 250. They gave her Calpol and she vomited it straight up. Before we knew it we were surrounded by doctors. My new baby was feeling limp and the panic set in.

“They struggled for so long trying to get a line in, even tried one on her head. Finally a consultant came in from home and got one in. I made the phone call to our parents and then we were told they needed to induce her into a coma, and that a team from Southampton hospital was on their way and we needed to move quickly.

“The thing that will always stick with me was when a member of staff took us into the room with Parker where they were inducing her into the coma and said, "It is time to say goodbye". This was obviously a wrong choice of words but it will always haunt me.

“We waited for what felt like forever before the consultant from Southampton PICU came into us and said she was safely in the coma and we would be leaving for Southampton very soon. He was wearing bright green chinos, amazing the things you remember! But I said to him, "Ok, I will just pop home and get some things"... I have no idea why I thought that was going to be ok and was clearly in shock.

"Is she going to die?"

“We went in to see Parker and she looked like the tiniest little dot on a huge bed filled with wires. We were blue lighted to Southampton - she was stable.

“The following hours, we just sat by her bed. She had a lumbar puncture and later that day we were told that she did have bacterial meningitis. I remember asking the nurse, "Is she going to die?" She had tears in her eyes and she said, "We are going to do everything we can".

“We were given a room at Ronald McDonald House, Southampton, just a short walk from Parker's ward. We were so grateful for the shower. The following night, they told us to try and get some sleep and they would call us if there was any change. I called every 30 minutes. Within a couple of hours they told us they were going to bring her out of the coma and to slowly walk back as it would take about half an hour for her to come round. We were there within 15 minutes and as we walked in, the first thing I saw was her beautiful blue eyes looking at me. The relief was overwhelming.

“After a couple of days we were home, going back to the hospital daily for antibiotics. The support we received from everyone at Dorchester Kingfisher ward and Southampton PICU was unbelievable and we cannot thank everyone enough for everything they did for our daughter.

Follow your instinct

“Parker is now three and a half years old, and apart from some high anxiety we are working on, she currently has no other after-effects and she is the most loving, funny little princess.

“My story is to tell any parent/guardian to follow your instinct, meningitis is not always shown as a rash and the moaning cry can be a symptom of meningitis. A doctor said to me after this had happened that a mother’s instinct or feeling is enough for any doctor to see them and to make sure they are ok.

“Meningitis Now have also been amazing when I have emailed them with my worries and have given me a lot of guidance on how to manage things and where to get further help - thank you!”