Toddle Waddle with Elise

19th March 2018

Meet Elise. Elise, now aged 5, is one of the young people helping us relaunch our Toddle Waddle this year. Here mum Helen tells us her meningitis story and how Meningitis Now has been able to support the family

Toddle Waddle - Elise letterbox

“Our 13-month-old daughter Elise was off colour on the Tuesday - she wasn't eating much at all and was very lethargic. We took her to the doctor who said it was a virus, to go home and just give her water."

“The next day saw her become increasingly sleepy, sick and not even drinking. We saw a different doctor, who was concerned that Elise had become dehydrated and phoned the hospital, who sent an ambulance. Neither doctor suspected meningitis."

“Upon arriving in hospital, examinations revealed that she wasn't as dehydrated as our doctor had thought. Even so, they hooked her up to a drip and took blood tests. The blood tests came back and revealed something was wrong. The registrar thought that she most likely had a bladder infection and took a urine sample, which came back clear. He then ordered a chest X-ray, which came back clear. He then came to discuss a lumbar puncture with us."

Pneumococcal meningitis

“When the registrar walked into the room with the results I will never forget the look on his face. Elise had pneumococcal meningitis. The speed at which her diagnosis went from dehydration to confirmed meningitis still terrifies me now. How could this possibly be happening when just a few weeks earlier she was running around at her big birthday party with all of her little friends, full of laughter?"

“She was hooked up to steroids, antibiotics and still on fluids. It was just devastating seeing our baby so vulnerable and at the mercy of these horrifically strong drugs."

“Her cannula kept failing, so every time she needed medication it was a horrifying ordeal of trying to stay calm and sing her nursery rhymes as she fought the doctors and screamed harder than I've ever heard. She'd cry out in pain, but push you away when you tried to pick her up. I have never felt so helpless in my entire life. All we could do was sit, watch and take it hour by hour."

Hadn’t smiled for days

“She hadn't smiled for days. All the doctors would say is there was no way of telling what the long-term after-effects could be."

“Thankfully, she responded well and within a few days was showing signs of feeling more like herself. Cuddling her special teddy and even smiling again. After a week we were allowed home with nurses coming out daily to administer her IV medication. Her cannula was still failing so this still involved daily dashes to the hospital for hours at a time whilst they tried to find a vein."

“Four months on and amazingly she had been discharged and classified as fully recovered."

Luckiest girl in the world

“Initially she was very clingy, having sleep terrors and was afraid of anyone touching her feet after all of the needles she had in them, but now she's back to her wonderful self, making friends everywhere she goes! Not a day goes by that I don't think of that doctor who called the ambulance and saved our daughter's life. We are just so fortunate to have the pleasure of watching our healthy baby girl thrive, grow and smile. Every smile is so precious. The luckiest girl in the world."

“We are thankful every single day for her recovery and all of the parenting milestones are magnified because we know just how fortunate we are. However, even as the best possible outcome of the disease, the experience of diagnosis, treatment and recovery has changed us forever. Meningitis is part of our lives now, and we will forever live in its shadow."

Holding a Toddle Waddle

“Meningitis Now has provided us with symptoms cards to distribute to raise awareness and we are getting involved with fundraising to help other families, including holding Toddle Waddles."

“Meningitis Now has been a huge support. We have attended Family Days, helped with bucket collections and organised a ball with two of our friends who are running the London Marathon for Meningitis Now.”

And Elise chips in, “Meningitis Now helps other children who are poorly like I was. We wear orange to help Meningitis Now raise money to help poorly children.”

Elise is shown dancing in the Toddle Waddle pack illustrations because, as mum Helen explains, “Elise loves dancing along to music and is part of a street dance group.”

Help Elise help others by holding a Toddle Waddle this year. They’re easy to organise and fun to participate in.

We have a pack of ideas and online resources to help you. Find out more and sign up at www.toddlewaddle.co.uk. You can give our friendly team a call on 01453 768 000 or email us at toddlewaddle@meningitisnow.org. We’re here to help!

So, ready, steady, go - and let the fun begin!