Ill at Christmas
On Christmas Eve I noticed Mason's breathing had become forced and heavy. I rang the emergency doctor’s number and was told to take him in. The doctor said he couldn't tell his breathing was abnormal, but gave him an inhaler anyway and I was told not to worry.
On Christmas morning, I went into the children’s bedroom to wake them up so they could open their presents. Mason was saying ‘mama’ and he sounded very distressed. When I looked in his cot, his head was facing the wall and he wouldn’t look at me. He was floppy and crying and when I changed his nappy I noticed a rash on his legs. I phoned an ambulance immediately.
Mason was taken to hospital and he was diagnosed with tonsillitis and flu. I was told to return to the doctors with him in ten days’ time if there was no improvement. At home, he just slept. At this point he had been without food or fluids for two days.
Boxing Day night, and I told my partner that I knew it wasn’t the flu. It was now day three of Mason being without food and his symptoms were just getting worse. He was asleep on a beanbag downstairs as I wouldn’t let him leave my side, and to my horror he became floppy, unresponsive and he wouldn’t wake up. My partner called NHS direct and they sent an ambulance straight away.
Shortly after, two fast response vehicles and an ambulance arrived. When they looked at Mason I could see the worry in their faces. The first thing they did was check Mason’s heart rate which was 45 bpm (I was told it should be 80-130bpm).
Back to hospital
They rushed him to hospital with the sirens going. When we got there he had three different doctors prodding and poking him before he was eventually admitted. On the ward, I was asked why I hadn’t sought help earlier, as he was critically ill and had only hours to live if untreated. I was not impressed as I had been turned away twice.
He had a brain scan and a lumbar puncture and was eventually diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia. After a week, thankfully he was over the critical stage and a week after that, he left hospital. He was readmitted the next day, however, as a rash appeared but thankfully it was just a side effect of his antibiotics. After another couple of days at home, he felt well enough to open his Christmas presents.
One year on, he was still under a consultant as he has a lot of anger and frustration; especially towards me. He is being referred to a psychologist for post-traumatic stress, and a speech therapist as his speech didn’t return.
I thought things would just go back to normal after we left hospital, but now I am left with my child in body but not in mind. I still cry sometimes, but I think that’s a mixture of reliving the nightmare of those days, and not knowing what the future holds. We’re just glad he survived and we know how different things could have been. I find comfort in reading other people’s stories and knowing I’m not alone on my journey.