Sharing Jack's story is valuable because he did not experience all of the typical, ‘tick-box’ symptoms of meningitis. Jack felt unwell for 3 days, with a slight fever, earache and intermittent headache.
On day 4 we took Jack to our GP who examined Jack and was of the opinion that he had a virus. On looking in his ears, the GP stated that Jack had a build-up of wax in his ears, so could not see beyond the wax to examine the ear. Over the previous months we had applied oil to his ears to soften wax.
Over the next 24 hours Jack’s condition worsened. He was suffering with the same symptoms, though was more drowsy and had begun vomiting.
We contacted 111 for advice, who stated that Jack’s condition was not an emergency, so they referred us to an Urgent Treatment Centre as it was outside of GP hours.
By that time, it was the early hours of day 5, Jack’s headache was worsening, he was vomiting continually and had become very distressed. As a result, he did not want to move.
After a 30 minute drive, and waiting at the Urgent Treatment Centre, we were informed by the doctor that Jack’s condition was unquestionably an emergency, but there was no provision there to treat Jack and that he needed to be seen at a paediatric A&E hospital. The doctor gave Jack anti-sickness medication as we had to drive another 30 minutes to the appropriate hospital.
Fortunately, the A&E department was less busy than usual and he was admitted promptly. At the time of admission, Jack had begun to suffer with the additional symptom of a stiff and painful neck. He was extremely listless yet still was not presenting with a rash or photophobia. He was given an IV broad spectrum antibiotic as a precaution, within an hour of admission.
On the same day a lumbar puncture and CT scan were carried out. We did not find out it was meningitis until nearly 24 hours later (day 6).
His lumbar puncture revealed a rare form of bacterial meningitis and he was given an additional antibiotic.
Undoubtedly, if we had not taken Jack to A&E and if the medical staff had not acted so quickly without waiting for other symptoms to show, or for the lumbar puncture result, it might have been too late.
If we, as a family, had not taken action without waiting for the ‘tick-box’ symptoms to present themselves, we would not have ‘our Jack’ now. Jack's illness has caused some damage to the brain, but he is coping well with it. The damage and life changing effects could have been so much worse or indeed we could have lost Jack.
Therefore, Jack’s story is to help increase awareness that meningitis does not necessarily reveal itself through all of the typical symptoms that we look for. Jack had been immunised against it.
Trust your instincts.
Trust your instincts. You know your child.
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