Meningitis in your words

Jamie Lewis West's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: GBS (Group B streptococcal)
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Jamie Lewis West

My son had diarrhoea for a couple of days, was a little listless on the Wednesday and slept a lot. I'd taken him to the doctors twice and called the doctor out the previous day but he said he was fine and put it down to me being a neurotic first time mother but I just knew something was wrong.

I was concerned he'd dehydrate as hadn't drunk much, so when my husband got home from work we took Jamie to the surgery and while we were waiting our turn, a rash appeared on his face.  The doctor checked him over and as he was doing so the rash came out before our eyes. We hadn't heard of Meningitis (1988) but this doctor did the neck test and next thing we knew we were in an ambulance in rush hour heading for the hospital.

Jamie had a tiny little oxygen mask on and I was beside myself.

"Jamie's hands and feet were now cold"

What followed was mayhem. They wired him up to tubes, did a lumbar puncture and pumped him full of antibiotics. They called a consultant in from another hospital (there was a nurses strike on) who I saw standing at bottom of the bed with her head in her hands, she just didn't know what to do.

Jamie's hands and feet were now cold and I couldn't hold him so stroked his little hand and talked to him.

We were called into the sisters office where we were told they thought it was bacterial Meningitis and he was critical but stable, that there was nothing they could do and Jamie was holding his own and if he made it through the night he might have a chance but that our son was very sick and had we had him baptised?

She explained what might happen if he survived the night, possible brain damage or possible loss of limbs. I didn't care, I just wanted my precious child to survive. I remember at that point feeling that our precious son might die and it was really important to get him christened and they brought in the hospital Chaplain, who performed the baptism.

Numb with shock we stayed by his bed and watched my blonde, blue eyed, fair skinned boy turn black which was caused by the septicaemia.

"The following day we returned to the hospital where it was confirmed Jamie had contracted meningococcal septicaemia."

At 2.10am we were sent out of the room and I peeped through the curtain and saw the staff trying to resuscitate his tiny body. When we were finally allowed in, my son was dressed and wrapped in a blanket, he'd passed away at 2.20am. My husband collapsed and the nurses took him away while I sat in that room holding the most precious thing in my life. Our parents came and other family members. I sat there talking to him for a long while but eventually the nurse said I had to give him to her.

The following day we returned to the hospital where it was confirmed Jamie had contracted meningococcal septicaemia.

25 years later I'm still crushed with grief but take comfort in the fact that was Jamie's lifetime and a wonderful little life he had, not long enough for me but for him, his life was full of love and joy.

Kristina Green