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Poppy P's story

23rd March 2016

All Poppy wanted was to be a big sister to her baby brother Noah, but shortly after her dream came true she was struck down with meningitis

Poppy P's story

Fortunately, her story has a happy ending. Mum Keeley, from East Leicestershire, tells it here.

“Five years ago everything changed. Poppy, our daughter, aged five, had just become a big sister and she was over the moon with her little brother, Noah. All she ever wanted was a little brother and he had arrived safely. November 2010 came and it was cold, wet and miserable. Noah was five-weeks-old and cried a lot!

“The normal evening routine began and both the children had been tucked up in bed. The next morning Poppy woke up and complained that she felt unwell. I remember she was sick which wasn't like her, but I thought she must just have a winter bug."

Kept a close eye on her

“We made her a bed on the sofa and she stayed there for the rest of the day. She was frequently being sick and every time she drank she was sick. We kept a close eye on her whilst trying to calm a five-week-old baby.

“That evening Poppy said that she needed the toilet but she didn't have the strength to move. Her dad Kieron carried her to the toilet and her whole body became limp. I saw a purple rash appearing on Poppy's neck.

“Everything was happening so fast I was so scared. I phoned the ambulance and the paramedics arrived.

“The first thing they asked me was to fetch a glass. I knew why they had asked, yet I couldn't accept it.

The paramedics worked fast

“The paramedics worked so fast. They injected her with antibiotics and made her stable. I couldn't believe what was happening. This stuff doesn't happen to me, this stuff happens in magazines!

“I grabbed Noah and anything I could and we all got in the back of the ambulance. Kieron followed in the car. I was numb. I just cried.

“Once at the hospital everything got worse. We tried to phone family but we couldn't get through.

“The hospital was in complete shock at Poppy's situation - they were looking through books!

“I was starting to lose all faith. She was wired up to machines and had medication being pumped into her little body. This was the first time someone said it. ‘Prepare yourself, your daughter is very ill and she might not be coming home. She has meningococcal septicaemia.’

Couldn’t believe it

“I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I had a baby in my arms. All Poppy ever wanted was a little brother and now she was fighting for her life at the age of five.

“Our world fell apart. We spoke to her and said she could have anything she wanted. All she needed to do was get better. Poppy asked if she could have a McDonalds. We made the promise. She was taken to theatre and a central line was put in.

“From that moment everything slowed down. In fact, I think it stopped. Poppy had been placed in a coma. This was to give her body the best chance of fighting the infection. The rash got a lot worse and started to take over her fingers and legs.

“We waited for another ambulance to arrive to take us to the QMC. Once there we spent four days in paediatric intensive care with the most amazing people. The nurses are the most amazing people. They helped us wash Poppy, they cared for her. They helped us but most of all they saved her life.

Counting the alarms

“Poppy was very ill. I remember counting the alarms that used to go off and listening to the machines and the breathing. Kieron and I stayed there by her bed just waiting for her. Noah had to stay with my sister who would drive him in every day so I could feed him and spend a few hours with him.

“It was a couple of days before I was 30 and I was sitting watching our beautiful girl fight. All I wanted to do was to swap places with her. I just wanted to fix her. As a mummy that's what we do. We heal our children. We make everything better. It was hard as I knew I couldn't, I couldn't help her.

“Poppy made amazing progress and fought hard. We woke up in the hospital two days before my birthday and the nurses decided it was time to wake Poppy up and remove her breathing tubes. We then prepared for the possibility of brain damage. It seemed this was never going to end!

Can I still have my McDonalds?

“Poppy woke up and couldn't talk. She just babbled. I was so happy she was still here but so scared what this disease had done to her. After a few minutes she started to make sense a little more, then she asked for a drink and then she said the best sentence ever. ‘Can I still have my McDonalds?’

“I couldn't believe it. After everything she had been through, after the massive trauma her body had been through and she had remembered about the promise. From that moment we knew we were still a family of four. Poppy has made a full recovery and only has very slight scarring on her upper thigh. These are her medals.

“A year after this I contracted meningitis, but that is another story!

“Today, we live life to the full. We enjoy every minute we have as a family but most of all we just appreciate everything we have.

“Our story has a very happy ending but others don't. Meningitis has had a massive impact on our lives and always will have. It has left physical and mental scars that don't heal. I know how ‘lucky’ we have been.”