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Sahib's story

18th November 2019

Mandip's son Sahib was just 11 months old when, for the first time in his life, he refused his milk. Mandip left it until the next day but then she noticed other symptoms – grunting, a glazed expression, an empty nappy...

Sahib's story

At this point, Mandip, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, knew something was very wrong and called the doctors. She told us what happened next.

“It was June 2018 and my son was 11 months old. The day before he was quite tired – no temperature but he refused his lunch. After a three hour nap he woke fine and ate all of his dinner, but for the first time ever he refused his milk before bed.

“In the night he had a low-grade fever of 38.1 and woke crying so I gave him Calpol - which he threw up. On changing his nappy, I noticed there was a bruise-like mark on his thigh and some very, very small pin prick size spots on his chest (approximately 5-6). I did a glass test and it was hard to know if they were fading or not. He was alert and breathing normally, so after few sips of water I put him down.

“The next morning, he didn’t wake at his usual time. I thought he must be tired so I checked on him after an hour as I could see he had his eyes open. I went in and noticed he had a glazed expression and was grunting when he breathed. I picked him up and it was like holding a newborn baby. I went to change his nappy and it was empty.

“I took him downstairs and lay him on the floor. He just looked up at me with a blank expression, so I quickly called the doctors and got an appointment straight away. I got someone to drop me at the surgery and as he was holding no weight, I carried him in my arms.

“I explained to the doctor that his breathing was very laboured and grunt like, that he had empty nappy and was refusing any water or food. I showed her the spots and the bruise and she didn't seem too concerned. She checked his chest and said there was a slight crackling. I kept saying, "This isn't like my son, this isn't my son, he's a bubbly little boy and this boy is just lifeless."

Called the hospital

“She called the hospital and sent us straight there. She didn't say what she thought was wrong but I later found out she suspected pneumonia from his breathing.

“We got to the hospital and I sat in the waiting area cradling my boy. We were called into a room, where I was bombarded with a million questions. I kept saying, “This isn't my boy, this isn't my Sahib," but I felt no one was listening. They said they didn't know what was wrong but that they would start antibiotics.

“It was only when they came to fit a cannula that they were stunned to find my boy didn't move a muscle or make a sound. The week before he had routine blood tests and he screamed the place down. But now he made not a squeak when they fitted the cannula. Even at this point I didn't realise the severity of what was wrong.

“My son's oxygen levels started to drop and he was taken into resuscitation and given oxygen through a mask. At this point I went into shock myself. I started trembling uncontrollably and couldn't stop shaking.

“Fortunately, his oxygen levels returned to normal and we were taken to the ward. He had intravenous antiviral and antibiotics continuously. We were told simply they didn't know what was wrong, but he was very, very ill and the poorliest child on the ward. He had a lumbar puncture and MRI and again he didn’t move at all during the procedures. His eyes stayed closed for two days.

His eyes opened

“On day three his eyes opened and he had a few sips of water and wanted to be held. It was on day three we were told he had meningitis and septicaemia and they were waiting to find out the strain.

“He was eventually diagnosed with meningococcal MenC and septicaemia. He stayed in hospital for ten days and continued antibiotics for a further five days.

“He has made a full recovery. His hearing is being monitored yearly but he has no visible signs of the after-effects. He is a normal healthy two-year-old now.

“My boy had NEVER been unwell before - not even a temperature, a cough or a cold. He was my first child and I didn't know what unwell looked like in a child. His condition deteriorated so fast, it was so scary. He went to bed fine and in the morning he was lifeless.

“I feel very emotional about the situation and I often feel guilty about feeling so down at times as he is a happy healthy child and we are so lucky. I feel life could have been so different. The hospital advised me that we had caught his illness early, but it scares me to think what he could have been like if I hadn't taken him to the doctors.

“I often think why did I take him to the doctors and not call an ambulance instead, but his eyes were open and he was breathing and I just didn't know what ill looked like. Even now he could have a temperature of 39.8 and he behaves like nothing is wrong.

“I fear my worries about the “what if's” will never leave me. I look at him every day and thank God he is ok, but I can't shift this guilty feeling that I could have done more.

“He will never remember it, but it will stay with me forever.”