Meningitis in your words

Georgie Alden's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Group B meningococcal (MenB)
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Child
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
Georgie Alden

Meningitis is something you hear about, but mainly just “check all rashes with a glass” but I never actually knew how serious it was until earlier on this year when my son was just 10 months old.

Thursday 17th May 2018 was just a normal day for us, out with my mum during the day and then in the evening out for a meal with friends.

We put Georgie to bed that evening as we did every night. At 1am Georgie woke up being sick, we suspected it was just a sickness bug. During that evening he was very poorly, high temperature and sickness so I slept in bed with him, having no idea what the next few days would bring.

He woke at 7am on the Friday still unwell but had a little life in him. He had a slight rash on his tummy so I called the doctor at 8.30am as I was worried about him. So normal procedure I took him round about 9.30am and we were sent home with a viral infection.

Georgie was sick again in the car but also now having diarrhoea. Just after 10am Georgie had his morning sleep and I continued with my housework and catching up with my TV. It was now 12.30pm and he was still sleeping but I assumed it was the lack of sleep from the night before so I left him for a little longer.

At 1.30pm I brought him downstairs, where he stayed sleeping. At this point I was getting a little worried as something just didn’t seem right. I had a niggle in my tummy and I kept thinking I was being dramatic as I had seen the doctor so I knew it was nothing serious. I FaceTimed my mum as I always knew he would smile at her but that didn’t work, then I started to worry even more. I have videos and photos I can’t even watch now, I sent these to my husband as he was doing regular checks through the day. The reason I think I can’t look at them is because I had no idea how poorly my boy was at the time. Georgie was just going downhill every minute.

I called Billy as I was getting more and more concerned, he told me to call the doctors back which I did. Billy arrived home at 3.30pm, the look on his face said it all. Billy couldn’t wake Georgie and at this point the doctor called and said bring him straight back. I look back now and I know at this point I should have called the ambulance and that’s something that goes through my head everyday but it’s something I can’t change.

We got to the doctors in what felt like 30 seconds! The receptionist took one look at this lifeless little baby and sent us straight through to the doctor. Within a minute we had, 2 doctors, 2 nurses, and the receptionist all in this tiny room looking at Georgie who was now unconscious, yellow and very poorly. A doctor calmly said to me, the ambulance is on the way as I think he needs to be seen by the hospital. I went into shock and just picked up the doctor's telephone and called my mum. The doctors really were great! They were trying to hydrate him but everything was coming straight back up.

The paramedics arrived and we got into the ambulance, 30 seconds later blue lights and sirens! We just looked at each other and said nothing. We got from Mile Oak to the Royal Sussex in 9 minutes on a Friday evening at rush hour, that’s when I knew this was serious, Georgie didn’t wake during this time, he just laid there. The paramedic called ahead and it was so surreal! If you have ever watched 24 hours in A&E it was that awful trauma call they make!

"My heart sank as I looked at my little boy who was just so poorly and I couldn’t do a thing to help him. "

My heart sank as I looked at my little boy who was just so poorly and I couldn’t do a thing to help him. We arrived at the hospital, Billy held him in his arms and we were rushed straight to Resus! Where we met by my mum, 3 Doctors and multiple nurses. Straight away a cannula was put in, he didn’t even flinch and I could see the worry on everyone’s faces.

Luckily the consultant on duty (Dr Rahman) made the decision to give Georgie a high strength of antibiotics until they could find out exactly what was happening. I found out later that he was almost 100% sure he knew straight away what it was but couldn’t tell us at the time.

The next 2 days are all a blur, Georgie had been transferred to Intensive Care where he remained unconscious, not because of any medicine purely because his body was shutting down. He was due to have a lumbar puncture but they had to give him a blood transfusion first because the sepsis was destroying his blood.

On the Sunday morning we were sat down by a senior consultant who told us what no parent wanted to hear.... Georgie was not reacting to the treatment and there was nothing more they could give him, it was up to him to fight it, and if there was no improvement within 24 hours he wasn’t going to make it. Billy stood up, walked out as he just couldn’t take in what we had just been told. I just sat there, I didn’t know what to say or feel. From that moment all we could do is just pray for this little boy to get better.

His results from the lumbar puncture came back which diagnosed him with meningococcal septicaemia, His first count of infection was 346!! A normal well person is between 5-10.

He was unconscious for 4 1/2 days and we had the best news! We found out that his infection count had come down to 270 which is extremely high but it meant the treatment was starting to work.

Over the next day or so Georgie started to wake up, we had no idea what to expect. It was heartbreaking, our lively, smiley little boy had lost all emotion and wasn’t able to do any of the things he could before he fell poorly, he couldn’t recognise his own parents.

But by day seven! Georgie was a true fighter and his infection counter was right down and he started to improve dramatically. Up to this point he couldn’t use his arms, sit up, babble or smile. These all started to slowly come back.

We were in the hospital for a total of 11 days and finally we were allowed home. I didn’t want to leave, I felt so much safer being there. I did not leave those 4 walls in that time which is probably the reason I have to write this for people to read because at the time I was just numb and I was very lucky to have my husband who was by far the stronger one out of us. We had so much support from family and friends it was incredible.

Six months on I’m telling you all our story because Georgie was lucky to come out the other-side. He has no physical after affects but he is under several consultants as they are concerned about a few things but nothing we won’t be able to cope with.

"One thing I take from all this is trust your motherly instincts, if I didn’t I would be writing a very different story."

Meningococcal septicaemia is a very fast acting infection, apparently there is a 4-6 hour window for the treatment. We have been told that we arrived at hospital between the 4-5th hour. So one thing I take from all this is trust your motherly instincts, if I didn’t I would be writing a very different story.

Thank you for reading my story.

Sophie Alden
December 2018

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