Harley B's story

17th October 2021

Demi, from Strabane in County Tyrone, was worried about her baby son Harley’s temperature and that he was very agitated. Initial advice was to keep an eye on him but when Demi eventually took him to A&E doctors responded quickly to treat his meningitis

Harley B bacterial meningitis case study

Recognising that babies cannot tell you how they’re feeling, Demi has written a poem to prompt other parents to act and we’re happy to share this below.

“My 9-week-old baby had become very fussy with his bottles. He had a temperature and was very, very agitated. After giving the recommended doses of Calpol for his age, his temperature did not reduce, so I phoned my GP practice first thing in the morning to see if a doctor could look at him, for peace of mind. 

“I went to the appointment and the doctor looked at his ears, mouth, throat and body and took my baby’s temperature, which was at 39.2. I explained that I had given him two doses of Calpol during the night and that his temperature did not reduce. The guidelines are to contact your GP in this case. I also explained that my baby wasn’t feeding the same for the past two days, was not interested in his bottles and was crying in pain and fussy.

My distressed baby

“After looking at my distressed baby, the doctor’s advice was, "You’ll have to book him in for a Covid test". My reply was, "That’s fine, but what happens if the result is positive?" The response was, "You and your baby and any other members of your household will have to isolate for 10 days."

“I also asked, "What about his temperature, how can I bring it down as the recommended two doses of Calpol are not reducing it?" The reply to this was, "Don’t worry too much about the temperature; it’s just the body’s reaction to an infection. What did they do years ago, they didn’t even have Calpol to reduce temperatures." The more I think about this response the more the anger builds up inside me.  

Harley B bacterial meningitis case study

Very confused

“I left that appointment very confused and almost as if I was completely over-reacting to my baby’s symptoms. But I went with the doctor’s advice and thought it was okay. 

“So, another night went by and my baby was still not well. I rang my health centre again and explained his symptoms and how he was, but the advice was to just keep an eye on him and his feeding. My own health visitor’s advice was that I should ring the out of hours and get him checked if I was not happy as mummies are always right, so this is what I did. I was advised to go to A&E straight away!

“When we got into A&E my baby’s temperature was 39.6. The doctor took one look at my baby and he moved us straight into a room and immediately started to administer antibiotics. I informed them of what my GP had said to me and every doctor was completely shocked at this GP’s advice. Many of them said to me that "when a baby of this age comes in with a high temperature that does not reduce and is also not feeding well, it is a general protocol to send them straight to a paediatrician assessment, as you cannot take risks with children of this age". 

Trust my own instincts now

“The doctors knew straight away that my baby had meningitis. They gave him everything they could and it was just in time. Any longer and I don’t know what would have happened!

“From now on I will always trust my own instincts, no matter what! Even if I am classed as an obsessive, over-thinking mummy.

“Our little man is now on the mend in hospital for another two weeks to finish his treatment all thanks to the amazing doctors in Altnagelvin. Their immediate reaction and response to the symptoms they saw has basically saved his life.

“While in hospital I wrote a poem to help other parents notice the symptoms of their babies and I’d like to share this.”

Harley B bacterial meningitis case study - Demi poem

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