Millie’s story

6th February 2015

Millie, from New Mills in Derbyshire’s High Peak, was a perfectly well and healthy 10 month old baby the day before she became poorly. She went to bed as normal but woke that night at 4am screaming. Mother Sophie takes up the story.

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“When Millie woke up screaming I checked her temperature and it was very high, but it came down with Calpol so I wasn't too worried! It was very hard to settle her so I bought her to bed and she went back to sleep with me. She kept waking in pain and she was breathing harder than she normally would, I thought maybe she had a chest infection or something".

“In the morning I left her to sleep on my bed and I got my older children Olivia and Grace ready for school, I left her for about 10 minutes and then went to check on her. She was grey, limp and struggling to breath. I panicked and got a friend to pick the girls up and take them to school and I rushed Millie to our local doctors’ surgery round the corner from us. We didn't have an appointment but they saw her straightaway. A doctor checked her over and told me to take her straight to hospital because something wasn't quite right".

Not prepared for what happened

“I drove straight to Stepping Hill and met my husband Alex there. I assumed they would check her over and send us home again and I wasn't prepared with what was going to happen. Once we got there the doctors checked her over and after five minutes or so they weren't happy. Her sugar levels were very low and she started to look very mottled. They whisked her away into a room, started taking blood and then put an oxygen mask over her face - it got very scary very quickly".

“Millie lost consciousness and we were asked to leave the room so they could work on her. A nurse kept coming out to update us on her condition. They said they were giving her a lumbar puncture. I knew then they were checking for meningitis. We felt so helpless and scared. After what seemed like forever they managed to stabilise her and move her to their intensive care room. She was in there all day whilst she got 24 hour care - receiving lots of fluid and oxygen while they tried to figure out what was wrong with her. After doing a number of tests and saying the fluid taken from her for the lumbar puncture was clear they were worried about her but didn't know what was wrong. She had no rash at this point either".

Our whole world was falling apart

“They told us they needed to put her into an induced coma because her body was getting tired and her organs were shutting down. I didn't understand what they were telling us. The whisked her away again and it took them two hours to stabilise her and get her to sleep safely. Her blood pressure kept dropping to dangerous levels. A special team called NEWTS came to transfer Millie to Manchester Children's Hospital and it was then that they told us that Millie had blood poising (septicaemia) but they didn't know what infection was causing it".

“They told us that she was very very poorly and to prepare ourselves for the worst. Our whole world was falling apart. How could she be fine one day and dying the next? We were crushed. We drove to Manchester and Millie got blue lighted in an ambulance. We got there and had to wait for what seemed like forever to be told if our little girl was still alive – it was heartbreaking. After a while we got the amazing news that she was safe but still very poorly and told the next 24 hours would be a scary time".

Held her hand and willed her to fight

“We sat round our baby’s bed in intensive care with so many wires coming out of her and beeping machines. We held her hand and willed her to fight and get better. The next day we got the news confirming that Millie was suffering from a bad strain of meningococcal septicaemia and they were treating her with strong antibiotics. They said if I hadn't taken her in when I did she would have died".

“Millie stayed in intensive care for six days I think (it's all a bit of a blur!) and the doctors and nurses gave her one to one care, 24 hours a day. They were amazing. They managed to get a room for me and my husband at the Ronald McDonald hotel across the road which meant we could be with her every day and not have to leave. Our family looked after our older girls. The days passed, Millie  improved  and we got the amazing news that she was well enough to take her tube out and wake her up. It took her a while to come round and she looked unrecognisable because she was so inflated from all the fluid her body needed".

The best hug I’ve ever had 

“She nearly lost her hands and feet but they managed to save them. That first hug I got from her was the best hug I’ve ever had. Millie was soon well enough to leave intensive care and go on the children's ward. She had a few problems like pneumonia, but they found it quickly and got her fixed up. After a week at Manchester Hospital we were told she was well enough to go back to Stepping Hill and we knew that we were one step closer to taking her home".

“She had come so far in just one week - I couldn't believe how strong she had been fighting the disease. Slowly but surely we were starting to get the old happy, smiley Millie back. All the staff at Stepping Hill welcomed us back with open arms and were so happy to see Millie - it was amazing. After the longest 10 days we could finally take her home and re unite her with her big sisters, who were thrilled to have her home safe and well".

Healthy, happy and active  

“Millie is now a healthy, happy, active 2-year- old. She has regular check-ups at the hospital and they are so impressed with her recovery - she hasn't any obvious after-affects. You would never know looking at her now that she was so poorly. I’m sharing Millie's story in the hope that people read it and it helps raise awareness of this awful disease. I had never heard of it before and I had no clue of the signs and symptoms. Millie did get a rash but it only came out when we got to Manchester Hospital and she was already getting treatment".

“We couldn't be more grateful to have our Millie Moo happy and healthy; we can’t imagine life without her. I’m really grateful to Meningitis Now who helped me to get over the ordeal of seeing my daughter so ill and providing me with information, advice and counselling.”