Siobhan was a beautiful and bright 2-year-old. On the morning of October 22nd, 1994, she came with me to the hairdressers where she chatted to everyone and played along with the hairdresser passing her rollers etc and enjoying being part of the general bustle of the salon.
That afternoon she began to show some signs of being unwell. She had complained of sore legs and seemed a bit fluey. She lay on the sofa but there was nothing particularly worrying about her condition. This continued into the evening where she didn’t seem to be any better and I took her upstairs to change her for bed. It was then I noticed a small pin prick rash on her bottom.
Something didn’t feel right and I called my husband and we decided to call the doctor. We had no real knowledge of meningitis then but somehow knew something wasn’t quite right.
The doctor took four hours to get to us and by then Siobhan was increasingly worse. The rash had spread and she was very lethargic and her eyes became very distant. We got her up to take her to the toilet and she was sick but very quiet also, which was unusual.
The doctors initially suggested chickenpox but we challenged his diagnosis, he then changed his mind and rang the hospital to expect us in. He left without giving Siobhan any antibiotics or saying what he suspected was wrong. We took her to the local hospital where she was very quickly given antibiotics and diagnosed by blood test as having meningitis.
Transferred for specialist treatment
She was then transferred to the RVI in Newcastle for specialist treatment as the local hospital had no intensive care facility for her. Things took a rapid turn for the worse and they sedated her to help her fight for her life. We sat for what felt like hours watching monitors, seeing her heart rate dip and recover and couldn’t take in the doctor’s words that she may not survive and we should be prepared.
Eventually her heart rate began to dip and wasn’t recovering, alarms were ringing and we were ushered out of the room whilst they tried to save Siobhan’s life. It was absolutely terrifying and it is something we wouldn’t wish on anyone, to have to watch the life of their child ebb away so quickly and with so little warning. At 10 am on Sunday 23rd October 1994 Siobhan’s heart failed and we lost the most precious thing in our lives.
The cruellest of diseases
It was incomprehensible to us that from that Saturday morning, less than 24 hours later she would be gone, taken from us by the cruellest of diseases. Coming home without her, looking at an empty cot was the most painful experience we have ever had. There can be no other reason than this for our wholehearted support for this vaccine and its availability to all children and other vulnerable age groups.
We would wish for no other family to go through what we went through and the pain never ends. This year (2013) on 30th March Siobhan would have been 21 and it is going to be another painful reminder of a life not lived and dreams unfulfilled.
Let the fear diminish and all the lives lost through this disease start becoming a thing of the past and the bright jewels of our lives like Siobhan live to become our future and not a painful memory of what should have been.