In October 2005 my darling niece Bethany took ill with meningitis at just six weeks old. My family went into shock... and despite her amazing recovery we were all scarred forever. Indeed the following year my brother-in-law and I trained for the Great South Run to raise money for Meningitis Research. I too had young children and it really hit home how lucky we were that they were fit and healthy. In Oct 2006 we raised over £1000 and Bethany is continuing to make good progress now. She starts school in Sept and is a little miracle. There is a photo of her now.
Just one year later (Nov 2007) our son was born, Stanley. After two girls it was a change to have a boy! He completed our family and filled us with joy. I still find it hard to believe that at 10 weeks old he too was diagnosed with meningitis.
He was a wonderful baby. He passed his six week check with flying colours, he was already smiling and sometimes even laughing!
At eight and a half weeks though he got a cold... but it really affected him badly. To cut a very long story short he ended up on a ventilator in Queens Medical Centre Intensive Care Ward. His body just couldn't fight off this illness. We were totally devastated.
After a week he was slowly improving and came off the ventilator. However he soon started having seizures and was very soon diagnosed with meningitis and encephalitis. We really had to push to get him tested, we kept getting told he was reacting to coming off drugs from PICU, but something seemed to tell us different.
We cannot explain how heartbroken we were. We blamed ourselves (totally without reason) and felt like we'd let him down. His little life was hanging in the balance and we were helpless. He couldn't smile, didn't recognise us, and we were totally unable to comfort him.
The medics at QMC Nottingham saved his life. We sometimes still feel like he's on 'borrowed time'. He is now totally off his epilepsy drugs and for the first time three months ago his development was considered acceptable for his age. He is now on a six-monthly review with his therapists. His speech was delayed (at 18 months he was still silent) but he cannot stop talking!!
My family have escaped twice. Bethany and Stan are really good little friends.... and they share a secret that none of us can understand. One day, when they're a lot older, they'll appreciate how lucky they've been. Right now though they're totally unaware... playing with their dolls and trains like any other four and two year olds!
Not a day goes by that my sister and I do not realise how fortunate we are.