Meningitis in your words

Isabella Cowen's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
  • After effects: Scarring - skin damage
Isabella Cowen

My 10 month old daughter Isabella had caught another cold and cough, but this time it seemed to hit her hard. She was very unsettled over the weekend near the end of February 2011. She seemed a little better on the Monday, but then on the Tuesday she had a high temperature and we dosed her up on Calpol, but it didn't seem to make any difference. We called the out of hours doctor who told us to strip her down to her vest and keep the regular doses of Calpol and Calprofen. Her temperature seemed to be going up to 39 degrees and we got rather worried. She stayed in the middle of our bed not really sleeping much and just making a moaning noise.

In the morning my husband took her temperature again and it was 40 degrees. He held her in his arms and her right eye started to roll backwards and then her arm started to shake. I was terrified as she started to fit. It was possibly one of the worst moments of our life. My husband called for an ambulance and whilst he was still on the phone to the operator the ambulance arrived. I went with Isabella to the hospital as my husband needed to stay behind to look after her twin brother Dexter.

She continued to fit all the way to the hospital. Once we were there, all the doctors and nurses were rushing around trying to stabilise her whilst I watched. She was given antibiotics straight away and put on a drip. She eventually stopped fitting and was moved up to the children's ward.

The paediatric doctor came to see us and told us that she suspected that Isabella had pneumococcal meningitis due to the fitting down one side of her body, and they would confirm the diagnosis with a lumbar puncture. We never thought that she would have meningitis because in the media the symptoms always say to look out for a rash and she didn't have one, it was such a shock. The doctor said she was optimistic as they caught it quickly and already started her on antibiotics, and she also required steroids for a few days.

She was in hospital for a week before being discharged and having a nurse come round and give her the IV antibiotics at home. However in that week at home she managed to catch a sickness bug and was re-admitted to hospital.

In hospital she was put on a drip to give her more fluids and then we also noticed that her right arm wasn't working as it should and her temperature kept spiking. They did X-rays on her arm and a CT scan to see what was happening in her brain. The X-ray was clear and the CT scan showed she just had some fluid round her brain which was normal with meningitis. They then decided to transfer her to St George's Hospital in London as their neurological department was one of the best in the country, and they wanted to do an MRI scan and other tests to see what was stopping her arm from working.

"She has made an amazing recovery and we are so very thankful"

She was in St George's Hospital for five days where she was observed and seen by specialists. Thankfully her condition started to improve and she didn't need the MRI scan. The doctors said that she may or may not get the use back in her arm but she would have physio to help it. Finally after three weeks of antibiotics she was allowed home.

She regained the use of right arm and had hearing tests to check for hearing loss, which were all clear. She has made an amazing recovery and we are so very thankful for all the ambulance and medical staff that helped us through her recovery. To look at her now nearly a year later you wouldn't know that she had anything wrong with her. She has turned into a beautiful bright and happy little girl and we are so very grateful.

Rebecca Cowen
February 2012