Meningitis in your words

Ava Grace Pettigrew's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Ava Grace Pettigrew

Ava was 14 months when she took unwell, I remember the day like it was yesterday. We had a nice morning playing with toys and it was lunchtime. Ava took one spoonful of her ravioli and the next minute she was vomiting and her temperature rose. I gave her some paracetamol which brought her temperature down and she seemed fine for the rest of the day, if not a bit more tired than usual.

That night Ava woke up being sick every hour so in the morning we took her  to our local GP who told us it was a virus and to alternate paracetamol and ibuprofen to help with the temperature etc. and to bring Ava back later that afternoon to see how she was getting on which we did. Ava’s temperature had reduced in the afternoon but as we sat with the doctor Ava was falling in and out of sleep sitting on my knee, which I know now was a large warning. The doctor assured us that it was just a virus and to continue as before and it should pass within four to five days.

The following day Ava woke but could not lift her head from her pillow. She was aware of me being there but she just wasn’t her usual self. My mum called by to see us and it was then we decided to take Ava to Yorkhill Hospital A&E. She was given a lumbar puncture where it was confirmed she had meningitis.

"Only time would tell for recovery"

Ava was transferred that night to an admissions ward and I can only imagine her head was in sheer agony as I will never forget her cry. She then began to have seizures which led to her being transferred to the High Dependency Unit. Ava was given a cat scan to determine any damage that had been made; we were told that she had some damage to her left side of her brain and only time would tell for recovery.

Ava seriously deteriorated and was transferred to PICU and we were told to prepare for the worst. She was monitored by the neuro team but it was decided that ventilating Ava was not the right choice, it was a waiting game. We prayed that her antibiotics would fight this.

One morning we came into Ava’s little room and said "Good Morning" to her nurse and as I finished my greeting Ava’s beautiful eyes opened and a little smile came across her face.

Ava recovered and was discharged from hospital a week later, however she required physio and to stay on medication for seizures, which she no longer needs. Ava has been for various check-ups within the last year and she has now been fully discharged as a healthy girl with no side effects so far and her brain appears to have repaired any damage. Our little fighter has been given a chance and we will be with her every step of the way to enjoy life to the full!

Meningitis Research Foundation were readily available to us in the early days when we were given this devastating news, it helped us understand and prepare for the unknown, had their website not been available we would have been in the dark on many occasions.