Samuel was suffering with tonsillitis when he began showing symptoms of meningitis, including loss of appetite, aversion to light, vomiting and an unusual cry.
He soon became very clingy and unsteady on his feet. Anita suspected meningitis and sought help immediately.
“When Samuel was 18 months old he had tonsillitis. It was early January 2015 and he was given a 10 day course of penicillin for it. He didn't seem to improve much so I returned to the GP and they said it was just another virus because he was a bit run down.
“Three days later I returned again as by this time he was avoiding light, throwing up any food and water, clingy and wobbly on his feet. His complexion had gone grey and he wasn't sleeping. He really was not well.
“The GP I saw told me to get him straight to A & E and said she would phone ahead to get Samuel straight in.
I suspected meningitis
“At this point I suspected meningitis but hoped it wasn’t...it couldn't be.
“The children’s A & E department got a line of fluids into him and took bloods which they said didn't show much. A consultant came down and everyone suddenly started moving very quickly. They rushed him to the children's ward and performed a lumbar puncture which confirmed my worst fears...meningitis.
“Samuel’s temperature would not stabilise so he was under very close observation and in the early morning of 31 January he finally dropped off to sleep. When he awoke at lunchtime his eyes were bulging and the left side of his face was sloping.
“His temperature had dropped to 32 degrees and he had suffered a mini stroke. The consultant rushed him down for a CT scan and everything seemed to stop around me. They had found a large abscess on the right-hand side of his brain - a very rare and a life-threatening side-effect of bacterial meningitis.
He took a turn for the worse
“His body could not cope so he was put into an induced coma and rushed by ambulance to Oxford John Radcliffe, where a fantastic neurosurgeon met us and immediately took Samuel to theatre where he endured three and a half hours of surgery to drain the abscess. They drained 75ml of pus and the abscess was half the size of his head.
“Samuel spent four days in intensive care before being taken to the children’s neuro ward. His infection blood count was 50,000 - they said this was the highest they had ever seen.
“He stayed in the Robins ward for four weeks but he developed hydrocephalus and ventriculitis. He needed an external ventricular drain surgically implanted and a PICC line for medicine. He had intrathecal antibiotics fed directly to his brain via the drain and two others via the PICC line. At this stage it was thought he may need a VP shunt.
“We eventually made it home in early March. We were only home for three weeks when we went for Samuel’s third CT scan. It was discovered he had hydrocephalus again and another abscess.
“Samuel was booked in for a VP shunt on 24th March (three days later) but he didn't manage to wait that long. He took a turn for the worse so was sent by ambulance to Oxford for emergency surgery the same day.
“He had the shunt for just one day before it became infected and was removed so he had an EVD drain attached again for another four weeks. All the same medication was administered as before and he had two more PICC lines. He was a very ill little boy again.
Samuel turned a corner – it was a miracle
“We finally turned a corner - the meningitis and abscess were under control. Samuel’s infection count came down to 164 at around Easter time, although he was still quite ill.
“The bacteria was identified as streptococcus intermedius, which is part of the milleri group of bacteria, and known to be aggressive and hard to treat.
“Samuel finally reached a stage at the end of April where he could be released home but had to have another 12 week of medicine via his PICC line, so I was trained by community nurses to administer this.
“He has only just been discharged by the hospital as an outpatient. Luckily he has no after-effects and has made a full recovery, which his surgeons said was a miracle.
“We are forever in debt to the amazing neuro surgical team at Oxford - they said he was just hours away from not making it.
"Within four months at the start of his year, Samuel endured six surgeries, seven CT scans, another six months of antibiotics and countless follow ups. The doctors say he is simply a miracle and I agree.
“He is almost two and a half now and like any other little boy. I look at him and every day and am so grateful.
“It has been a great comfort reading other meningitis stories and knowing that you are not alone. It really takes its toll on families and, although Samuel is oblivious at his age of the severity of what happened to him, I am still very aware and I know that feeling takes a while to go.”