Meningitis in your words

Alex Karsies's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Alex Karsies

Five years ago, I was a 28 year old mother of two boys. The oldest, Alex, had just barely turned two. We also had a 9 week old son, Grant. Today I am 33 and the mother to three handsome boys. Alex- 7, Grant - 5 and Bryce- 3.

Needless to say, as a new mother I was quite naive throughout this whole ordeal. My husband, who never gets ill, was extremely sick. Fever, cough, everything. So I took the two boys to bible study on a Friday night in January 2008. Both boys were healthy and happy.

Saturday morning my oldest, Alex (who was 2 at the time) woke up with a fever - around 101. He was extremely strong-willed and refused to take or keep down any fever reducing medicines. Additionally, I noticed that he was breathing rapidly. The fever hovered between 102-103 most of the day. Because I was concerned about these things I brought him into our local urgent care center. They looked him over and said it was viral and gave me some suppositories to help reduce the fever.

"His temp was 105.4"

All day Sunday we fought the fever. Even with alternating Tylenol/Motrin we could not get the fever below 101. Sunday night we woke to hear him vomiting in his bedroom. I went and got him and brought him in bed with us, where he continued to throw up most of the night.

Around 6:30am (Monday) I woke and felt that he was burning up. His temp was 105.4. He was also saying, "ouch, head, ouch head". I called our pediatrician's on-call number and they advised that we take him to urgent care right then, as their office wouldn't open until 9am and he should be seen immediately. So we brought him back to our local urgent care center. Aside from forcing Motrin down him they again said it was "just a virus" and sent us home.

By the time we left the urgent care it was 9am. Our pediatrician's office was now open and I was feeling uneasy about the Urgent Care's diagnosis, I called and they told us just to stop in on our way home and they'd work us in to the schedule. Our pediatrician was very concerned. He sent us for blood work and then told us that since he had had a high fever for 3 days he was going to give him a shot of Rocephin in the office. I believe this is what saved his life. He sent us home, but urged us to call back if he did not have a wet diaper in the next few hours, as they couldn't even get urine from him with a catheter, and they would admit him to the hospital for fluids.

"I drove him to the hospital in a sheer panic. My little boy was not responding and looked almost comatose in his little car seat."

On the way home Alex started dry-heaving and again saying, "ouch head". We got home and we couldn't get him to drink anything. He was laying on our living room floor and his lips were gray. He was becoming unresponsive. We had not been home more than 5 minutes when I called our Pediatrician's office back and told them what was going on. They called our local Children's Hospital and got a bed for him. I drove him to the hospital in a sheer panic. My little boy was not responding and looked almost comatose in his little car seat.

He "slept" through them inserting an IV. I sat and held and held him, just thinking all he needed was fluids and then we could go home. However, I sensed concern from the staff at the hospital. When he wasn't perking up after a few hours our Pediatrician came up to the hospital and ordered a spinal tap. I asked a nurse who had been in there how it went and she simply said, "the spinal fluid was cloudy". And I asked what that meant. She said, "it's abnormal". Assuming at that point it was likely viral meningitis my husband went home while I waited with Alex. Soon after he left nurses and other staff started coming in to our room wearing face masks. I asked what was going on and someone said, "didn't anyone tell you? your son has bacterial meningitis". I was floored.

At this point he had had an antibiotic in him (the Rocephin) for nearly 12 hours. They said he would need to be watched closely all night and started giving him several different antibiotics through the IV. Soon after they were in there we got a phone call from our Pediatrician letting us know what was going on. Since he had given the Rocephin earlier in the day they were not able to culture the spinal fluid, but it did have certain markers that indicated bacterial meningitis. Luckily, since our pediatrician had taken blood prior to giving the Rocephin they were able to culture that and determined that it was Pneumococcal. Even though our son had been vaccinated with PCV7 (all 4 doses), this was one of the strains not included in that vaccine.

Our sweet boy spent 11 days in the hospital, but did heal completely. He is now 7 and is experiencing some vision issues (flashing lights) that we are going to a neurologist to have checked out. Not sure if that could be related.

I thank God every day for him. Trust your instincts if you feel something is not right with your child.


MAY 2013