Meningitis in your words

Gracie Hills's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Other
Gracie Hills

Sunday evening was just like any other, we had been out all day and the kids were ready for bed. We were all trying to teach Gracie to walk and she was full of it, laughing and playing with her brother Lewis.I took them both up to bed around 7.30pm and they both went straight off.

At 2am Gracie woke up, I went in and she was sick, I tried getting her back off to sleep but she was quite restless, so I put her in my bed with me, where she was in and out of sleep. At 8am I called the doctors, I thought she has a stomach bug.

It was snowing outside so I asked the doctor if he could give me some advice over the phone rather than drag her out looking so poorly. He asked if she had a temperature, and as she did he told me it would probably be best if I went there.

"For the next few days we both held her hands and feet as they were like blocks of ice, we were told this was because all her blood was going straight to her vital organs to protect and keep her alive."

As I changed her nappy, I noticed a very small dot on her chest, I pressed it and it didn’t disappear. Although I was upset Gracie seemed so poorly, I still didn’t think it would be anything serious.

I got her to the doctors around 8.30am and as we sat waiting, I noticed another darker spot had appeared on Gracie's head and wrist. I started to get upset as by this point she was very limp and pale. I asked at reception how long I would be waiting for as I’d noticed a rash and was starting to worry, but then it was our turn to go in.

I explained to the doctor she seemed to have a small rash, the doctor rolled a glass over the spot and it didn’t go away, she then said she was going to give Gracie a shot of penicillin and that she was treating her for suspected meningitis. I was hysterical, how could this be happening!

An ambulance came and took myself and Gracie to Kettering General, there seemed to be hundreds of doctors and nurses all around Gracie, and I just wanted to pick my baby up and take her home. They then told me there would be a team from Leicester coming to pick Gracie up. We were told we were unable to go in the ambulance with Gracie to Leicester as there would be too much going on.

Once there, we waited outside the Children’s Intensive Care Unit for what seemed like forever, a doctor then walked towards us. I thought he was going to tell us we'd lost our baby girl.....he didn’t, but he did tell us they had managed to stabilise her, she was very poorly and it was going to be just a matter of waiting for the next 48 hours. When we finally got to see Gracie, she was covered in a rash, on a ventilator and extremely swollen. It was like living in a nightmare. We couldn’t stop crying.

The hospital confirmed Gracie had meningococcal septicaemia. We both couldn’t believe it. How could our beautiful healthy baby girl have caught such a horrible deadly disease? It was the worst pain I have ever felt, and we both thought we was going to lose her.

For the next few days we both held her hands and feet as they were like blocks of ice, we were told this was because all her blood was going straight to her vital organs to protect and keep her alive. She was taken off the ventilator after 5 days and although she was still very weak, it was nice to see her getting back to her old self. Gracie then seemed to pick up day by day and was soon ready to be moved from Intensive Care.

Unfortunately Gracie lost all her fingers on her left hand, she had artificial skin wrapped around her left wrist as the rash was extremely deep. She also lost fingers on her right hand although she was left with a bit more stump, so can still use her hand well. She had 2 tips of 2 toes removed, and skin grafts in on her knees and wrist.

We are extremely upset and devastated this has happened but also so thankful we still have our beautiful baby girl. It could have been so much worse.

Lauara Brown
May 2013