Holly and Brooke's stories

23rd February 2015

Here Holly tells how both she and her daughter Brooke battled meningitis

Holly-Brooke

"The first sign I showed of meningitis was a headache at my grandparents’ house. They said a bath might make me feel better, assuming it was nothing. As the day progressed, when I returned to my parents' house, my headache got worse and I started to be sick. I could barely look at bright lights and my temperature was up.

"Mum and dad were advised by the emergency doctor to get an ambulance. I was whisked away to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, where tests were done, including a lumbar puncture. I screamed and struggled so much that after three attempts the doctors wouldn't continue. My poor dad was in bits and still to this day says its one of the hardest things he has ever had to witness. Now they had a worrying wait for blood tests to come back, rather than the quicker, lumbar puncture method.

"Luckily I recovered. I had viral meningitis which isn't so serious and after lots of tests I haven't been affected by it in anyway, long term."

Tiny, but perfectly formed

"Brooke was born five weeks early at 4lb, 4oz. She was tiny, but perfectly formed. She ate well from the start and wasn't a sickly baby.

"So when she went in for her first set of immunisations aged three months, I wasn't concerned. I knew she may be a little fussy and to watch her temperature. I could hear her grumble overnight and I put the little whiney cries coming from the monitor down to the injection.

"The next day at her early feed, she didn't feel well and was particularly sleepy. I told my boyfriend to keep an eye on her while I went to work. When I came home, Brooke didn't seem right to me, she was crying in a different way. She vomited a full bottle really violently. She had never done this before and it worried me instantly."

Go to the walk-in centre

"At 7pm, her temperature was 37.8°C. The NHS helpline advised I take her to Coventry Walk-in Centre where a doctor told us to take her to Walsgrave Hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, she was crying her eyes out and was hot. She looked weak and I was starting to panic.

"The doctors and nurses got her on antibiotics, taking her bloods etc and eventually the Calpol brought her temperature down and she slept. Two days of antibiotics, vomiting her food and a high temperature followed. Doctors assumed it was a bad reaction to her first lot of injections. They then said they would do a lumbar puncture. I advised my boyfriend that we shouldn't go in with her as it would be too distressing.

"Hearing her scream down the corridor while it was being done nearly broke my boyfriend's heart. On the third day the doctors said it was meningitis, but they couldn't tell which type as she had been given antibiotics.

"There were two days when Brooke was not responding to her antibiotics and we felt sick with worry. My parents were particularly panicked having been through it themselves with me, but it helped speaking to them as they really did know what we were going through."

Hospital heroes

"Then on the Tuesday, Brooke's temperature started going down and she seemed to be responding to her antibiotics. The doctors were pleased and believed she was starting to beat it. The nurses, midwives and doctors at Walsgrave Hospital were true heroes to us.

"I went home on one of the nights and Ross stayed. I was worried sick leaving her and racked with guilt, but in the morning I got a text from Ross saying, her temperature was 36.6 and she had kept all her food down with a picture of her smiling.

"I cried. It was the best sight I could have ever seen, when I woke.

"We took her home two weeks after she was admitted and since then Brooke has been brilliant. She had a hearing test last week, which was fine and we take her in for her first outpatient appointment next week. We are the luckiest people in the world. Now when she cries for her bottle, her nappy needs changing or she wants a cuddle, it's the best sound in the world, because it's a healthy sound and a healthy cry."


  • Isabelle King

    Isabelle's story

    She didn't cry or even flinch; the little girl was virtually lifeless

  • Mason

    Mason's story

    To my horror he became floppy, unresponsive and he wouldn't wake up

  • Elise

    Elise's story

    The speed at which her diagnosis went from dehydration to confirmed meningitis still terrifies me now

  • Eliza

    Eliza's story

    We were told that she only had an 8% chance of survival and to say our goodbyes