Ralph's story

19th May 2015

Danielle’s son Ralph, now 7-months-old, from Winchester, was a very happy, smiley, content baby, until one evening he started to feel hot to the touch

Ralph's story
At first doctors sought to reassure her that Ralph didn’t have meningitis but the story changed a few days later when he eventually had a lumbar puncture. Danielle takes up their story.

“Our son Ralph is a very happy, smiley, content baby so when he started to feel hot on the Tuesday evening we did the usual and took his temperature. We found it was slightly raised so gave him some Calpol and he went to bed."

“During the early hours of the morning I went in to check on Ralph and found his temperature had spiked again and he was so hot to touch I became really worried. I called 111 and they said to manage his temperature with regular paracetamol and that, as long as he wasn’t having difficulty breathing and had no rash, to continue to do so until the following day."

“I did as they suggested but his temperature would spike again just before the next dose was due so this really panicked me. I then called 999 and we were put through to a nurse. She said to do the same. This was night one of three that followed the same pattern."

“On Wednesday I took Ralph to the doctors, as he was very sleepy and I had to wake him to feed him (not like Ralph at all). They said the same, go home and manage his temperatures and if he was ill the following day to come back in."

Very much doubt meningitis

“On our second trip to the doctor’s surgery on the Thursday the doctor sent us to the hospital in Winchester. Before we left she said: ‘don’t worry, I very much doubt Ralph will have meningitis’."

“When we arrived at the hospital Ralph looked grey. He wasn’t very responsive and had vomited. As soon as we arrived a nurse gave him some more paracetamol and took us straight into the resus room on the paediatric ward, where they administered IV antibiotics to treat a UTI and fluid to rehydrate him (Ralph has dilated kidneys so may be prone to having urine infections)."

“That night Ralph continued to have very high temperatures and his blood pressure and heart rate were very low. At this point the meningitis word wasn’t mentioned."

“The following day a doctor came to see us and told us that Ralph’s CRP (C-reactive protein) was 210; this should be less than 1. They were concerned he had meningitis, and with the mention of that word our hearts broke."

Could not imagine anything worse

“As a mum I had studied the meningitis leaflets and I have said on many occasions ‘I could not imagine anything worse than having your baby or child going through meningitis, thank goodness it will probably never happen to me’."

“We were then told that Ralph would require a lumbar puncture to confirm this, so that was arranged and the results showed that he had meningitis, but they were unsure if it was viral or bacterial."

“In the meantime Ralph was started on a 10-day course of antibiotics and by day two he was definitely showing signs of getting better. During our 10-day stay in hospital our family was ripped apart and my husband, Alex, was trying to keep our 4-year-old daughter, Beatrix, in her routine and explain to her that mummy and her baby brother wouldn’t be coming home from hospital anytime soon. He was also trying to keep our family updated, but finding it impossible to speak some days. "

“Ralph was so poorly. He was grey in colour for days and just wasn’t the baby we knew. I stayed with him every minute we were in, apart from when he was taken from me for the doctors to carry out the lumbar puncture and also when they couldn’t find a vein for a cannula for what felt like the 100th time. They had to place one in his head, which was heartbreaking to see."

Desperate to stop this happening

“During those times I felt absolutely desperate to stop this happening and would sit and wait, hearing him scream and not being able to soothe him or take the pain away from him."

“I read every account of people’s experiences of meningitis on the Meningitis Now website whilst we were in hospital. Some made me feel reassured that our Ralph would get better and some brought home how horrific this illness can be."

“We had nothing else to compare this horrifying ordeal with, so from that night on I made a promise to myself and to Ralph that I would do something that could help someone like me and my family. That’s why I’m organising a Toddle Waddle."

“I also wanted to give thanks that Ralph has come through this relatively unscathed and that he is still here with us and we can continue to build our very happy memories as a family of four, although we are still waiting for a hearing test and hoping that Ralph won’t have any troubles as he grows. “

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