On the morning of Thursday 6th January 2011, Mattia was a bit grumpy. We assumed he was teething. In the afternoon, after his nap, he developed a high temperature. I rang the GP surgery, who advised us to give him paracetamol and ibuprofen and keep checking on him and ring back anytime if he got any worse.
They confirmed teething can give a high temperature. Mattia was quickly back to himself and was fine for the rest of the afternoon. Before going to bed, I checked the symptoms for meningitis online and was reassured because he’d had all his milk, wasn’t floppy or blue or anything like that. The high temperature had to be because of teething.
Around midnight, we heard Mattia stir and whinge so we went to check on him. He was struggling to go back to sleep so I took him with us. About 1½ hours later he had very bad diarrhoea. When opening his vest, I noticed a purple mark on his belly. We rang the GP’s surgery straight away and the out of hours GP advised us to take him straight to Stroud for a doctor to see him asap.
We drove through the snow so it took us double the time to get there. As soon as the GP saw him, he confirmed he had meningitis and was in a very serious condition. By then Mattia was covered in purple marks, his breathing was uneven and he was extremely pale, turning blue. He was given a shot of special antibiotics and put under an oxygen mask. The GP came with us in the ambulance to Gloucester to support the ambulance staff and try to keep Mattia awake the whole way.
I think we got to Gloucester around 4.30am. All available staff were waiting for us and the specialists on call had been asked to come asap. A lot went on. Nurses and doctors going back and forth were asking about everyone else back at the house etc. At some point we were asked to leave the room so they could intubate Mattia to help him breathe.
A specialist team from Bristol arrived around 8am. They’d been on the phone with the Gloucester team to give them advice. The consultant from Bristol told us Mattia was fighting for his life, had a 30% chance of making it through and that they were doing everything they could. When he was stable enough and ready to be transported to Bristol, we found him intubated from all angles, puffy, and sedated. All we saw was that he was still breathing though. That’s all that mattered.
Transferred to a specialist unit
Mattia was transported to Bristol on a special ambulance before lunchtime. We were told the first 24 hours were crucial and he went through those brilliantly. Then another crucial 24 hours went well. The doctors started reducing the sedation and removing breathing and feeding aid gradually. There were 10 days of ups and downs in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Bristol Children Hospital.
When Mattia was emerging from the sedation, there were doubts if his brain had been affected. His MRI results weren’t perfect but not all bad either. All there was to do was wait and see. After another eight days in a general ward, we finally took him home with medication to prevent any convulsions (he’d had two when emerging from sedation).
Mattia has now made an exceptional recovery. He is off all medication as he’s never shown any sign of epilepsy. He does have regular appointments with the physio, the community paediatrician and at the eye hospital but this is to make sure any after-effect would be picked up asap.
What Mattia had was meningococcal septicaemia type B, which means the bug affected his brain as well as his blood, causing his veins to bleed. This can lead to death, loss of limbs, and loads of other life-affecting conditions.
We are extremely grateful to the GP who saw him in Stroud for doing the right things straight away and also for not panicking. Mattia has received excellent medical care all the way. Our neighbours, friends and the nursery staff have given us ENORMOUS support to get through all this and we are extremely grateful to them too.