William P's story

18th October 2017

Roxanne's son, William, developed pneumococcal meningitis from an ear infection three days after his first birthday. 

William P

It started with a fever and him going off his food and drink, but three days later the ear infection took hold. He was seriously lethargic, unable to eat or drink, had a fever that couldn't be controlled and was vomiting.

Our GP, urgent care, and 111 felt the ear infection was the only issue and gave us routine antibiotics.

On the Sunday morning, after three days with no food or water and being 'asleep' for 36 hours, William went floppy in my arms - he was like a rag doll. I was screaming his name but there was no response.

We called an ambulance and were taken straight to hospital.

Seven hours later we were advised he just had an ear infection and told to go home.

In my heart I knew he was seriously ill, so a few hours later we decided to take him back for a second opinion. Sadly it felt like we weren’t taken seriously enough and were left for six hours.

When they finally assessed William he was severely dehydrated and needed to have fluids via a tube down his nose/throat.

Seriously ill

They started him on two rounds of antibiotics and a steroid as a precaution, but within a few hours he deteriorated further and we were told he was seriously ill and could die. 

He was taken to high dependency isolation, as they weren’t sure what was wrong with him, and because he needed one to one medical care.

He had a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and a CT scan on his brain, which showed excessive fluid in his ear and around his brain.

Blood tests revealed a serious infection and they started to suspect meningitis, but William was too ill to undergo a lumbar puncture so we had to wait for him to stabilise overnight.

The next morning he was taken to theatre for the lumbar puncture, and even though we were told it would take 48 hours for the results, by that night the test had come back positive for meningitis.

We were told that we needed to get through one day at a time.

It felt like our world was ending.

No one could tell us if he would survive, and if he did what impact it would have on him. We just had to sit and wait.

Determination

William fought the illness with such determination - he wasn't letting it defeat him.

The next day he had to go back to theatre for further surgery to fit a grommet to drain the excess fluid in his ear.

Two days later he properly woke up and said ‘mummy’. Words cannot describe what it felt like to hear him speak and that he remembered me.

It was the first time I thought he might just make it through it.

He was still very poorly and his pulse and blood pressure was still dangerously high, but over the next week he went from strength to strength and he was released from hospital after 10 days.

We had to go back daily for his antibiotics for a further four days, and he was finally discharged nearly three weeks after it all began.

The next day was Christmas Eve, so we tracked down the only Santa left working, just so William didn't miss getting to see him.

Having William back home for Christmas was the best present we could ask for.

After meningitis

The first few months were awful, as William suffered from horrific headaches, was petrified to be left on his own to sleep, and wouldn't let anyone new near him. He had lost lots of weight and had to learn how to do a number of things again such as walking.

Nearly a year later and William is doing well.  He has partial hearing loss; however he appears to be on a fantastic road to recovery.

We have been told it will be a number of years before we know if he has been left with any neurological issues such as learning difficulties.

Meningitis has left a massive impact on our lives. William has been slow to meet some milestones post illness, and every other week we end up having a medical appointment with a specialist for something or other. 

As his mum it has left me with PTSD, for which I am receiving counselling for.

Even though it has led to a lot of heartache, we now appreciate life so much more and certainly are living life to the full now.