Emily F's story

2nd April 2019

Ellie’s baby daughter Emily was six weeks old when she became ill in May 2001. Initially her meningitis went undiagnosed and it was only on a weekend away in Blackpool that Ellie was listened to and her baby admitted to hospital

Emily F meningococcal bacterial meningitis case study

Fortunately Emily went on to recover but has been left with additional needs. Ellie, from Birmingham, recounts their story here.

“I had taken my daughter Emily to our GP a few times in the week before she was taken ill. On the first visit he told me to just keep feeding her and she will sick up what she doesn't want."

“I also asked my mom for her advice as she had raised seven children of her own. On another visit I was told I was overreacting as I was a first time mommy. Yes, I was a first time parent but nobody knows their child better than the parents."

“One afternoon Emily was really unsettled. She was not happy laying down or being sat up to be winded, so I had a phone conversation with the GP. He advised I ‘starve’ her and that we are the only country that believes in winding our babies. I wasn't happy, so that evening I took her to A&E. There I was told it was just colic."

“My daughter had her six week check on the Tuesday, where I was told there was nothing wrong with her and again I was just overreacting. For the next few days we just carried on getting along."

Weekend away

“We went away at the end of that week for what should have been for the weekend. Travelling down, Emily was very unsettled, sleeping for the whole journey and crying in her sleep. She was like this for a couple of days, so I decided to phone the camp’s emergency doctor. He asked for her symptoms and told me to take her straight to see him."

“When we went in I didn't even close the door before he picked the phone up for a three way conversation and then told me that A&E is waiting for you and the receptionist will give you directions. When we arrived at Blackpool Victoria Hospital the doctor was there waiting for us. He did initial assessment and then took us to the paediatric unit, where they took her off me and left me waiting in the waiting room for what felt like an eternity."

"A doctor eventually came to speak to me and told me, "We have an extremely poorly baby and we are treating her for meningitis as we don't have time to wait for the results. If you hadn't come in when you did she wouldn't be here." These words broke me but not as much as seeing my baby girl all bandaged up with her drips in and intubated. They told me I could touch her but I was too scared in case I hurt her."

Shave her hair

“The next words were also scary: "We might have to shave her hair as the drip keeps dislodging." That is what happened too. I was hundreds of miles away from home all by myself. I asked if we could be transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital but she was too poorly for that to happen. A week later she was transferred to BCH. It was the longest journey ever but at least we were back in our home town."

“By now the guilt was starting to kick in. What if I hadn’t taken that medication for an upset tummy? What if I didn't have the rough and tumble play with the children in the nursery I worked at? I didn't even consider I could have been pregnant."

“My baby girl made a full recovery, and we have Blackpool Victoria Hospital paediatric staff to be thankful to. My daughter does have other additional needs, including learning disabilities, speech and language, ASD and more, but we don’t know if these are after-effects caused by the meningitis. But she is here, so all her other problems we can cope and deal with."

“When my baby was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis she was six weeks old. She will be 18 in two weeks’ time."

“The sad thing is it took going on a weekend break for my daughter to have a doctor who listened to me. We got kicked off the local GP practice as I refused to see that doctor again, as I lost all confidence in him.”

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