“On Sunday 18th August I returned home from work and my wife was sitting in the living room with our son Jack, then six-weeks-old. She said that Jack didn’t seem interested in his bottle and had become unsettled.”
“At this point we thought maybe he was still a bit tired from the night time, so we made the decision that we would wait until his next feed and see what he was like. I remember watching Tottenham play on TV with Jack in my arms and could feel the heat radiating off him. At first I thought he was just hot so we decided to give him his next bottle early to see if it helped. Jack once again did not take much of his bottle and became unsettled again and he still felt really warm, to the point I made a joke that I could fry an egg on him.”
“This was the decisive point of the day and I thank my wife so much every day for how she dealt with it. As first time parents and with what happens in the media every day we at first were reluctant to bother the already exhausted NHS if it was just a fever. Not only that, we had no idea about the signs of meningitis, yes we have heard of it, but symptoms ... no.”
Put him to bed and see … or phone?
“So, it was a case of do we put him to bed and see what he is like or do we phone? Thankfully, my wife said that she was not happy at all with leaving him like he was, so said she would call NHS111, which again I was not happy with as you do hear the horror stories in the media.”
“However, they were faultless. They said we needed to see a doctor within two hours of the phone call and the appointment was booked at the Alex Hospital, Redditch for 9pm. The doctor we saw was lovely and reassured us that she felt he was okay, but she was not happy with his temp of 40. She organised us blue light transport to Worcester Hospital, to be seen by the Paediatric team. This is where our nightmare started.”
“On the initial assessment they had the idea that Jack had a urine infection, which was confirmed by a dip test. We were relieved! We thought ‘yes, he’s fine let’s go home!’”
Stay the night in hospital
“The doctor said that she wanted Jack to stay the night to make sure his temperature maintained its course and to see what he was like in the morning. This was another reassuring sign as they wanted to make sure Jack was okay. During the night Jack slept as well as usual and as morning came we were enthusiastic about going home and again enjoying our time with Jack as before.”
“This wasn’t to be. A new doctor came to see us and he explained that he was not happy with the initial urine test as it looked very cloudy and from his observations on the initial assessment he also wanted to perform a lumbar puncture. At the time this sounded okay and we thought that they wanted to tick all the necessary boxes, but looking back at it now this should have sounded the alarm bells as we think they knew something was wrong with Jack.”
“So, the lumbar puncture was performed and we were informed that we would have to wait at least 48 hours for the results and we were to stay in until these were confirmed. Our hearts sank and the worry set in. At this point they explained to us why they were carrying out a lumbar puncture, and this was when the word ‘meningitis’ surfaced.”
“Fast forward 24 hours and the initial results had already come back - suspected meningitis.”
The whole world dropped . . .
“The whole world dropped from below us – just six-weeks-old and with a potentially life- threatening infection! The next seven days consisted of constant monitoring and strong antibiotics, which knocked Jack for six. Eventually they allowed us to go home on day five and said that Jack would need to complete his course of antibiotics.”
“His next 12 months would consist of ultra sound scans and consultant appointments. We never actually got an exact diagnosis, and when we questioned the doctors about this they said the speed with which we got Jack to hospital resulted in his condition not getting any worse. The antibiotics had worked and killed the infection.”
“Jack is now well and living a great life, thankfully with no after-effects. Only now, after looking into this deadly disease, have I realised just how lucky we are. When the doctor said we prevented his condition from getting worse I personally think we may have saved our son’s life. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your child looked at straight away. Meningitis presents itself as a common cold or fever and hits hard. It needs to be treated immediately.”