Charlie N’s story

16th July 2021

Baby Charlie was irritable, unsettled and screaming when he was picked up. Fortunately, mum Chelsea had to pick up some test results for him the next day so took the opportunity to ask about his condition

Charlie N's viral meningitis story

A series of tests later and it was confirmed that Charlie had contracted viral meningitis. It was a worrying time for the family but a short stay in hospital soon put Charlie right and had him smiling again, as Chelsea, from Yeovil in Somerset, tells us here.

“When Charlie was born on 22 October 2015, he had a lump on his head. They did a scan before we were discharged and we had to wait for results. We were due to go to the doctors on the 16th of November to get these. 

“The evening before that Charlie was really irritated and unsettled. He had been suffering with constipation, which is what I thought was wrong. When it came to bedtime he just kept screaming throughout the night and not feeding. Again, I thought it was constipation related. Every time I picked him up he would really scream in pain.

Scan results okay

“The following morning I dropped my eldest at nursery and headed to the doctors to get the scan results. Thankfully they were all okay and it was put down to his delivery. The doctor asked if everything else was okay. I said ‘no’ and explained what he had been like overnight. 

“He then asked me to remove Charlie from his car seat and when I did he screamed. So, the doctor laid him on the bed and moved his legs around etc and said he’d like a paediatrician to look at him. 

“He rang through to the hospital and we went straight there. The paediatrician looked at him, thought it was constipation as well and put something up his bum to help him go toilet. Within 10 minutes he did go, but not a lot so he asked us to go up to the children’s ward where Charlie could be monitored for a couple of hours. 

Horrendous couple of hours

“Those couple of hours were horrendous. Within an hour another doctor came in and wanted to take blood, which they did. Something worrying must have come back because they then said we’d be staying overnight, they wanted to put a cannula in and were talking about a lumbar puncture. 

“I was thinking where on earth is this coming from. That evening, they put the cannula in and put him on some fluids. It broke my heart hearing him scream like that at only 3.5 weeks old. My husband was so strong and helped to try settle him. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. 

“The following morning they took him down for a lumbar puncture. They told us as parents it wouldn’t be nice to see, so advised us to go and get a coffee and have an hour to ourselves, which we did. 

“We were waiting for results and later that evening a doctor came round and said everything looked okay. Phew!

Didn’t know what to do

“So, my husband went to the nearest Chinese to get our tea. I was on my own in the room with Charlie when another doctor came in. He said he’d just looked at the results and that Charlie has viral meningitis. I didn’t know what to do. A different doctor had just said everything was okay. I sat there crying and my father-in-law walked in. I told him what was going on and then my husband returned with our tea. 

“We asked for the doctor to come back in and explain it again. It was such a shock and was so upsetting. The following morning a rash appeared on the side of his face and neck. This was the last thing to happen. We felt lucky it wasn’t any worse but our tiny baby did have it and his face was so puffy from all the crying. 

First proper smile

“The next day we had our first proper smile from Charlie. I have it on photo and always look back to think how lucky we were. That smile meant so much more because he did it whilst in hospital fighting this illness. We were in hospital for six days before we all came home.

“Now, when any of my children are poorly, I always look for a rash and the other symptoms. I can’t help it, I just worry.”

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