Thabang Tloubatla

Pneumococcal meningitis at 4 months (now 18 months)

Pneumococcal meningitis

Just a day before the end of my maternity leave my four-month-old boy had a very high fever. He started having convulsions and I had to drive with my aunty holding him in the front seat next to me, to the nearest GP. The doctor gave him something to stop the fitting and we were transferred to Rose Acres Hospital immediately. A lumbar puncture was done and we were admitted. The following day the paediatrician advised that it was meningitis and he had to stay in hospital for 10 days for the full treatment. All those days I stayed with him, he did not have any more convulsions, the fever went down and he finished his course of antibiotics and we were discharged thinking that this was the end.

Until my son was a year old. It hit again this time, harder than before.

I was called back from work by the nanny saying my son had a fever and refused to play/eat/drink or do anything, he just wanted to lay his head on her shoulder the whole day.

Thabang was so limp and did not want to raise his head, look me in the eyes or do anything. That night he became worse as I continued giving him panadol, trying to make him drink some milk. He vomited everything until he could just open his mouth and nothing came out. First thing in the morning I took him to the paediatrician, we did not have an appointment and the lady at the reception wanted us to return home. I decided to go through to casualty where the doctor said the child was too dehydrated and called the paediatrician, and my son was admitted immediately to Bedford Gardens Life Hospital.

Tests were done again and the lumbar puncture confirmed my worst nightmare. He had pneumococcal meningitis. I stayed with him in hospital as I am a single parent and felt like the world was ending. The next days were hell, my son had seizure after seizure. He was not responding to the medications, he just lay there limp and helpless with all the pipes and machines and the drips. The paediatrician was worried – she went for second opinions and the drug that they used on him was changed immediately. Because of his body weight they decided to give a higher dose but because they were afraid of damaging his veins they had to call a surgeon to put a stent through to his heart.

That night I stood alone in the corridors of the cold hospital waiting for the procedure to be finished, I could not cry anymore and just left everything in God's hands. MRI scans were done to see if there was anything in the brain that needed to be removed surgically – all was clear.

The next few days he started waking up and drinking and eating a bit. He only had the seizures on his right side of the body that would last for about 30 minutes and stop for two hours and start again. The treatment continued. The doctors gave him oral medication (Epilim syrup and deselex). The convulsions stopped but his right side was dead, he could not sit or walk (he came into hospital walking). CT scans were done to see if he suffered a stroke – all was clear.

My son went through the treatment and improved and after a month we were discharged and he has to take the Epilim and deselex for the next two years to avoid him suffering from epilepsy.

If you have to ask anyone about the mighty hand of God the father of heaven and earth, ask me. My son’s father might be out enjoying his life without a care in the world, but God is father to all. Today my son is 18 months running and playing like every boy his age. He has not had a single fit since we left the hospital, he can hear and see clearly and is starting to say a few words.

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