When Harry met meningitis

3rd April 2018

When 10-year-old Harry, from Salisbury in Wiltshire, had a school science project he steered clear of the chemical weapons story that has been dominating the news agenda in the town of late and focused on meningitis, which his uncle is recovering from. Proud mum Gemma shares their story here

Harry's meningitis blog

"Harry is at Pitton Primary School in Salisbury Wiltshire. Along with the whole school Harry had a science project to do. They display their works in the hall for all visitors, parents and children, to walk round and then the pupils have to answer questions about what they did and why."

“Sadly, Harry’s uncle Nicholas was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis on 9 February this year. Harry was overhearing me talk a lot about this and kept asking questions. So, we thought it would be appropriate and good for Harry to do his science project on meningitis - what it is and how it is caused, the signs and symptoms etc."

“We thought this would be a great way to raise awareness, especially as we have been told that the type of meningitis Nicholas had, how he contracted it and the fact he is 47-years-old make it an unusual case."

Model of a brain

“So, we bought a model of a brain and skull and Harry assembled all the different parts (with my help!). He then chose three colours of plasticine to act as the three layers of the brain and rolled them out flat and placed them over the brain. Harry then made some labels and stuck them in the brain to identify the separate layers."

“Harry then chose a meningitis awareness poster online and we printed and laminated that and he then also wrote a simple version of the facts of meningitis and the role of the meninges. I went with him to his science fair and he sat there and answered lots of questions that the teachers and parents and children asked him."

Raising awareness so eloquently

“I was very proud hearing him speak so eloquently about the meninges, what they are and what happens if they become inflamed.  His headmaster said he didn’t know the names of the three layers so he commended Harry for that!"

 “People were asking him why he chose this subject and he said it was because his uncle had meningitis and he was making people aware of the disease."

“One adult thanked Harry for raising awareness of the signs, as she works with small children and was not aware of all the signs that Harry had listed.  Many other adults thanked Harry for raising awareness and thought it was wonderful that he did that.  Harry said it made him feel happy and confident after he did it."

Terrible ear pain

“My brother Nicholas had terrible ear pain for days leading up to 9 February. On that morning he collapsed and was rushed into A&E, where they quickly diagnosed him with meningitis and placed him in an induced coma. His ear infection had affected his brain, causing encephalitis and hydrocephalus. Swabs confirmed pneumococcal meningitis."

“I will never forget when the doctor sat us down that Friday evening and told us this was life threatening and they would do all they could to try and save his life."

Keeping him alive

“He was connected to so many machines, infusion pumps full of so many different medications and wires, all keeping him alive. Thankfully he did not need any invasive surgery to reduce the pressure in his brain, as that is what they initially said he may need. If so he would then need to have been transported to Southampton neurology department."

“Nicholas spent two days in an induced coma and a week in the Rador Intensive Care ward at Salisbury District Hospital, where he received outstanding care from the nurses and consultants. He then spent a further week in a general ward before he was allowed to be discharged, two weeks from when he first arrived."

Amazing recovery

“He is continuing to make an amazing recovery considering how very ill he was. He has been left with double vision due to the raised pressure in the brain but this is improving by the day and doctors are hopeful this will continue to improve. He also has a damaged liver due to the extensive antibiotics and anti-epileptic drugs they had to give him, but his levels are also starting to improve."

“The neurologist said that a GP may only ever see one case like this in their lifetime, if not at all in terms of how Nicholas presented. The fact that he was 47 (he celebrated his 48th birthday on the 16 March) and it tracked through from an ear infection is quite rare (well, he said he sees things like this due to the nature of his job, but not so much for a GP)."

“Nicholas is under observation still due to the fact he may have been having seizures on presentation but the doctors are not 100 per cent sure of this. He now only has outpatient appointments to go to and fingers crossed he continues to get back to full health; something we were told may not happen as there can be so many after-affects."

“I am just so thankful he is still the old Nicholas we all love and know!”

Well done Harry! And Nicholas.

Meningitis Now fundraising - Time 4 Tea

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