Daniel Ferries

Meningococcal disease at 0

Meningococcal disease

It was the 15th of March 2006 and my son Daniel was five months old. Daniel, my partner Gordon and myself spent the day visiting Gordon's parents. Daniel was his normal happy self and there was no sign that he was ill.

That night he woke several times, had a high temperature and was very unsettled. By 7am I was concerned so took him to the G Docs which was just round the corner. The doctor checked him over and said it looked like an ear infection and just to give him infant paracetamol, so that's what we did, but all morning he was very grumpy. He whimpered and whined, did not want to be picked up or touched and his skin became very blotchy.

We took him back to the doctors and were seen by a different doctor. She told us it was either the beginning of chickenpox or some other infection but not to worry. But I was still very worried as I knew my little boy was really not himself. I did feel like I was treated like an over-protective parent and that my concerns were not really listened to, but nevertheless we took the doctor's advice and went home.

During the afternoon he did seem to improve and ate a little lunch, and I thought maybe I had been over worried as this was my first baby and the first time he had been ill. However, by supper time he was worse than ever and nothing would settle him, so I took him upstairs to bed where we both eventually fell asleep.

At about 8pm Gordon came upstairs to check on us and I decided to wake Daniel and try and give him a feed. But when I tried to wake him he was very unresponsive, just rolled his eyes and went back to sleep. When I did eventually get him wakened he started to scream, was very distressed and his cry was very high pitched.

By now I was really worried but didn't want to bother the doctors again so I phoned Gordon's mum who is a nurse. She came round and took one look at him and told us take him to the doctor, so I phoned NHS 24. By now Daniel was floppy and unresponsive again. The lady at NHS 24 was very nice and didn't treat me at all like an over worried parent. She asked me lots of questions like were his hands and feet cold? At the time I didn't know the symptoms of meningitis apart from the dislike to bright lights, stiff neck and rash which Daniel didn't have. She advised us to get him checked by a doctor so back to G Docs we went.

This time the doctor shared my concerns: he said he suspected meningitis and we should take him to hospital right away, so an ambulance rushed us the 30 miles to Aberdeen Children's Hospital. However once there we had another 20 minute wait before seeing a doctor - it was one of the longest 20 minutes of my life. The doctor checked him over and again thought it was ear infection. She also said that only one of us could stay overnight with him, so Gordon was sent home.

Not long after he left, another doctor came round and said that they where going to do a lumbar puncture just to rule out meningitis; I wasn't allowed to be with him for the procedure so had to wait alone. The doctor came back and was very surprised to find that the fluid was cloudy. Daniel was then transferred to high dependency and in the morning they confirmed that it was meningitis.

Thankfully Daniel made a speedy recovery, but it didn't stop me blaming myself. Perhaps I should have been more aware of the symptoms of meningitis, then I would have noticed sooner, but then I remember that three doctors also missed the early symptoms.

He was in high dependency for just two days before being moved to a normal ward where he was well enough to start pulling out his drips, so they had to put it in his head, which looked a lot worse. Eight days later he was allowed home. Three years on and he is a very happy, health three-year-old with no long term effects.

After Daniel come out of hospital I was researching meningitis on the internet when I come across the Meningitis Research Foundation website and decided I wanted to give something back, as I have no doubt the work they do helped save my son's life. So in August 2006 I abseiled the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh to raise money for the Foundation and enjoyed every minute of it. I hope to do more in the future to help support the Foundation.