Meningitis in your words

Andrew Wardrop's story

  • Location: Scotland
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Andrew Wardrop

Our names are Ian and Irene Wardrop and this is a short story of our experience with meningitis and our son Andrew. 

Andrew was born at Irvine Central Hospital on 20th July 1983 by caesarean section. 

Right from the start he had trouble with projectile vomiting. For those who have never seen such a thing it in itself is a frightening experience; when Andrew was sick it could travel a few feet across the room. 

We settled down to looking after our two children, Andrew and his big brother Richard, who was three. Everything was going OK except for the odd bout of sickness.

When Andrew was two months old we awoke around 3am to him being sick. I had just fed him a little more than an hour before, and nothing was unusual about him at that time. We cleaned up the mess and took him into our bed for the rest of the night, scared to put him down again in his cot. 

Early next morning Ian was getting ready for work and I was sitting nursing Andrew on a chair in the sitting room. His colour was not very good but he appeared to be sleeping quite soundly; we still suspected it was his original sickness problem. Ian decided to set off for work.

"The severity of the disease and delay in treating it left Andrew severely brain damaged."

I called the surgery at 8.45am as soon as it was opened and requested a house call. I was told the doctor would call shortly, but no one came. Andrew continued to sleep, but not a normal sleep. I repeatedly called the clinic - by this time I was frantic with worry; eventually the doctor arrived at noon. After a rapid examination the doctor said she suspected a hole in the heart and immediately sent for an ambulance.

On arrival at hospital Andrew, who by this time was critical, was given a lumbar puncture. By the time Ian had travelled from Glasgow to Crosshouse Hospital Kilmarnock, Andrew had been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia and was on antibiotics.

We never saw Andrew again. The severity of the disease and delay in treating it left Andrew severely brain damaged. His brain lost its ability to control his body temperature, we were not sure if he could hear or see either. This was the start of the longest year of our lives travelling to the hospital nearly every night and often getting calls through the night. One night he was hurriedly christened, as it was feared he would not see morning. However, Andrew was a fighter and hung on for a year, almost to the day. During that year we were only able to get him home a couple of times, as he was never stable enough.

We never gave up on him and asked questions about his long-term prospects and the chances of his recovery. Even though it is quite obvious now the doctors never committed themselves to his future and adopted a 'wait and see' attitude, they must have known what the future held for Andrew but would not say.

After Andrew's funeral we said we must do something to raise funds into research and make others aware of the symptoms. We did nothing for a few years, the reason could be his wee brother David was born six months later. 

Purely by chance at work, Ian was given the task of disposing of 60 dozen empty Irn-Bru bottles, which raised a few pounds, and we sent it to Meningitis Research Foundation.

By return post came a leaflet asking us to raise money by climbing a Munro in their annual event so we decided to hold our own event and got together a small party. We set off to Glencoe and fully climbed a Munro, and to reward the volunteers we supplied a BBQ and drink. It was so successful that we are now in year 12 and with the help of our brave volunteers - many of them from the very first event together - we have raised over £30k.

Written by: Irene and Ian Wardrop
April 2009