Sickness, fever and lethargy
Our 13-month-old daughter Elise was off colour on the Tuesday - she wasn't eating much at all and was very lethargic. We took her to the doctor who said it was a virus, to go home and just give her water.
The next day saw her become increasingly sleepy, sick and not even drinking. We saw a different doctor, who was concerned that Elise had become dehydrated and phoned the hospital, who sent an ambulance. Neither doctor suspected meningitis.
Upon arriving in hospital, examinations revealed that she wasn't as dehydrated as our doctor had thought. Even so, they hooked her up to a drip and took blood tests. The blood tests came back and revealed something was wrong. The registrar thought that she most likely had a bladder infection and took a urine sample, which came back clear. He then ordered a chest X-ray, which came back clear. He then came to discuss a lumbar puncture with us.
Never forget the look
When the registrar walked into the room with the results I will never forget the look on his face. Elise had pneumococcal meningitis. The speed at which her diagnosis went from dehydration to confirmed meningitis still terrifies me now. How could this possibly be happening when just a few weeks earlier she was running around at her big birthday party with all of her little friends full of laughter?
She was hooked up to steroids, antibiotics and still on fluids. It was just devastating seeing our baby so vulnerable and at the mercy of these horrifically strong drugs.
Sit, watch and take it hour by hour
Her cannula kept failing, so every time she needed medication it was a horrifying ordeal of trying to stay calm and sing her nursery rhymes as she fought the doctors and screamed harder than I've ever heard. She'd cry out in pain, but push you away when you tried to pick her up. I have never felt so helpless in my entire life. All we could do was sit, watch and take it hour by hour.
She hadn't smiled for days. All the doctors would say is there was no way of telling what the long-term effects could be.
Thankfully, she responded well and within a few days was showing signs of feeling more like herself. Cuddling her special teddy and even smiling again. After a week we were allowed home with nurses coming out daily to administer her IV medication. Her cannula was still failing so this still involved daily dashes to the hospital for hours at a time whilst they tried to find a vein.
Four months on and amazingly she has been discharged and classified as fully recovered.
Every smile is so precious
Initially she was very clingy, having sleep terrors and was afraid of anyone touching her feet after all of the needles she had in them, but now she's back to her wonderful self, making friends everywhere she goes! Not a day goes by that I don't think of that doctor who called the ambulance and saved our daughter's life. We are just so fortunate to have the pleasure of watching our healthy baby girl thrive, grow and smile. Every smile is so precious. The luckiest girl in the world.
A happy ending. I wanted to share our story to give others hope. Meningitis Now has provided us with symptoms card to distribute to raise awareness and we are getting involved with fundraising to help other families that weren't so fortunate.