“Lewis was ten and a half weeks old when he woke up in the night with an unusual cry. He wouldn't take any milk and seemed as if he was in pain. I undid his sleep suit and his skin looked red and was boiling hot to touch. I stripped him down to his vest and took his temperature which was high."
“I gave him Calpol but he was still very unsettled and woke several more times during the night, so we made an appointment with the GP for the following day. After a thorough examination the doctor said he was suffering from a virus and we should bring him back if we were still worried about him."
“Two days later, Lewis took a turn for the worse. He was extremely distressed and cried every time we moved him. We were really worried so at 4am we decided to ring the out of hours doctor for advice. We explained the symptoms and he told us to give Lewis some more Calpol as it was likely to be the only way to calm him down, and that he was probably breathing quickly because he was hot. He said he would call back in an hour."
“Lewis settled and went to sleep on my chest but we noticed that his breathing had become irregular and he was going for long spells of time without breathing before gasping to catch his breath. We were relieved when the doctor called back as I explained what was happening but he didn’t seem concerned.
“He said that we didn't need to worry unless Lewis was turning blue and that sometimes babies do appear to stop breathing but it’s nothing to worry about. We thought this was quite flippant - especially as Lewis was only ten weeks old, but we were exhausted having been up all night so we accepted his advice and let Lewis sleep, assuming we were just overreacting as new parents. However, Lewis continued to deteriorate; his breathing was still irregular and he kept going floppy, so we made the decision to call an ambulance.
“After being examined by a paramedic it was decided that Lewis should be admitted to Treliske Hospital in Truro, where he underwent blood tests and a lumbar puncture; and white cells were found in his spinal fluid. It was decided that he should be treated for bacterial meningitis although the outcome of further tests later proved that it was viral meningitis. He spent five days on IV antibiotics and antiviral drugs."
Trust your instincts
“It was horrible seeing him so poorly; he looked so tiny in the big hospital cot, and it was awful seeing him attached to a drip, but he is now strong and healthy again. We cannot praise the medical staff at the hospital enough; the paediatrician acted so quickly in making the diagnosis and all of the nurses on Polkerris Ward gave him an outstanding level of care. We really cannot thank them enough.
“The one thing I would like to pass on to others from this is to trust your instincts. We knew that Lewis was really not well, but didn't have the confidence to challenge the advice we were given. If we had waited any longer before calling the ambulance or if it had been bacterial meningitis the outcome could have been fatal. It doesn't even bear thinking about. We are so thankful that our precious little boy is now strong and healthy again.
“Whilst in hospital I used the Meningitis Now website to gain information about viral meningitis. Their information is invaluable.”