On this particular Monday, my baby Jack was in great form. We were at my uncle’s house and didn’t get home until after 8pm. Jack was full of beans. I got him ready for bed and gave him his bottle. Then his granny called and she played with him for a few minutes before he went to bed. At 9.30pm he went to sleep happy.
He woke the following morning at 7.30am. I went into him and on the sheet noticed yellow sick. It was different to normal baby sick, it was like highlighter yellow. I checked his temperature and it was high. He was very pale and not really paying attention to us. I put him into bed beside his dad Paddy and got a bottle for him. But he would not drink it. That was unlike Jack as he really enjoys his bottle in the morning after sleeping all night. So then I knew there was something definitely wrong.
I rang my mother, told her what was going on and she told me to go straight over to my doctor. I was there at 8.30am even though I thought they might think I was over-reacting by being there so early. Looking back, thank God I did go over to the doctor.
We were seen straight away and since Jack had been chesty for a while and may have sick in his lungs the doctor suggested an x-ray, and phoned ahead to say we were on our way
We waited in A&E for about five minutes before we were called in. I was holding Jack and when I tried to stand him up on my knees he couldn’t put his feet under himself. At this stage he had only drunk 2oz of water but was sick and it was clear in colour.
He had the x-ray and was sent down to another room, but we were only in there about two minutes when Jack’s oxygen levels dropped down to 79, and his heart was racing, going at 220. He wasn’t responding and his lips turned blue. I was holding him and the nurse and doctor told me to bring him down to another room so we had to run off with Jack. They put him on the bed and gave him oxygen and after a few minutes put a nebulizer on him. The doctor was trying to take blood from Jack and eventually they were able to find a suitable vein. By this stage he was roaring crying and I was really upset. The doctor told me that it was good that Jack was crying because at least he was responding to pain.
They thought maybe he had pneumonia but the x-ray came back clear. Then one of them mentioned meningitis, I didn’t know what was going on. Another doctor came in and spotted three little faint spots on Jack’s arm. You would barely notice them. He said that he was going to treat him for meningitis. Straight away Jack was given an antibiotic. The doctor said the bloods would be sent to Temple Street in Dublin and they would be back the next evening. But he did say he didn’t think it was meningitis because Jack had been so well. So we were admitted to the children’s ward thinking we would be going home the following evening. After coming down to the ward Jack had some bottle and went to sleep.
Wednesday evening came and the doctor came and said that Jack’s blood results came back positive for meningococcal septicaemia (type B meningitis). By this stage Jack had taken two doses of the antibiotic. Paddy and I had to be treated with antibiotics for two days and also my cousin Jo as she was minding him the weekend before it happened and had stayed in our house. I told the doctor my mother was holding him before he went to bed for a few minutes, but he said she would be OK as it has to be close, prolonged contact.
We had to stay for the week as Jack had to get seven doses of the antibiotic. We were let home the following Monday afternoon. I had to bring him to the doctor four days after we came home as he got tonsillitis and was put on another antibiotic. He got over that and then four weeks later picked up another throat infection and had to go on another antibiotic. That was his third antibiotic in six weeks. He is prone to picking up things after being so sick but the doctor said he will grow out of it. We are just so lucky that he is here with us.
Jack is four in October and starting playschool. He is also a big brother to Cormac, aged 10 months.
But it could so easily have been a different story, we are very very lucky. While we were in hospital I found the Meningitis Research Foundation website. I contacted them and they were a great help.