Meningitis in your words

Caroline Nayson's story

  • Location: Malawi
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Child 6-12
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Co-ordination problems
Caroline Nayson

Joyce Nayson from Manja township in Blantyre, Malawi talks to Aspire staff in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital about how her eight year old daughter Caroline became sick. 

Caroline first became sick at the age of six, she has suffered from pneumonia a number of times but this time was different. 

On 9 November 2014 Caroline was complaining that her head was paining her, she was crying and her body temperature was too high. I thought it was just a headache and that she would be better by the next morning so went to purchase some goods for my business (selling vegetables, dry fish and packed maize flow at the local market) and left Caroline at home with her father who is a night watchman at a lawyer’s house in another township.

The following day my husband took Caroline to Limbe Health facility and they had to walk there because there is no means of public transport available in our area to the health facility.

"Caroline was just crying that her head and stomach hurt and she still had a very high temperature."

At the clinic they thought that Caroline might have malaria so they did a malaria test which was negative but because of her condition they referred her to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. Caroline was just crying that her head and stomach hurt and she still had a very high temperature.

My husband took Caroline to the hospital by public transport since he had been told that the ambulance had just left and it would take a very long time for it to come back.

When my husband got to the hospital with Caroline they were seen quickly and helped because she had started convulsing. They took her into the emergency room where she was given an anticonvulsant and they did another malaria test which came back negative again. They did a lumbar puncture and she was then taken to the ward where she was put on oxygen. 

My husband then called me to be with Caroline at the hospital and he went home to look after our other children. I have five other children, my first born daughter is 23, second born son is 21 years, third born daughter is 17 years, fourth born daughter is 14 years and the other boy is 10 years old; Caroline is the youngest.

"It has now been 10 days since we came in the hospital and Caroline cannot stand, walk, sit or talk."

The doctors confirmed that Caroline had meningitis and they have been giving her injections and some medication and since she is unconscious they have been feeding her through a tube. 

It has now been 10 days since we came in the hospital and Caroline cannot stand, walk, sit or talk. Now that I have experience of meningitis I think I would be able to spot it again and have told the family members who have visited us in the hospital about what to look for when someone is sick and to seek medical attention quickly.

Caroline’s sickness has been awful but has helped the family to be strong and has brought unity among the family members as well as close relatives.

I am very scared and worried about what Caroline will become in the future because of her condition now. I think she will not do well in school again and as she is still not walking or talking I feel my daughter's life is going to be hard since movement and communication is very difficult for her at the moment.

Joyce Nayson
November 2014