Meningitis in your words

Joseph Pasqualone's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: GBS (Group B streptococcal)
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Joseph Pasqualone

Joseph was born on the 22nd December 1999.  After a routine caesarean we were sent  home on Christmas Day to be with our elder son, Marcus, and the rest of the family.

Joseph rarely slept three or four days after his birth. With our first son Marcus, he would sleep for a couple of hours at a time as you would expect a newborn to do. However, Joseph appeared a healthy baby boy. 

Four weeks after his birth, I was changing his nappy when he suddenly went very stiff all through his body.  His cheeks billowed out like balloons and he was breathing rapidly. This lasted about a minute and then he let out a high-pitch cry, immediately went limp and pale.  

"The doctor told us Joseph needed to be admitted to hospital straight away, giving no indication of what he may be suffering from."

At this point my husband Tony and I were concerned and rang the health visitor for advice. We were advised that Joseph may have been passing a motion and not to worry, and to mention it to my doctor at my post-natal check up in six weeks. 

However, I did not feel confident about this, and immediately rang our doctor's surgery.  Due to his young age, Joseph was seen by a doctor within the hour.  Whilst the doctor was examining him he had what we now know to be a fit.  The doctor told us Joseph needed to be admitted to hospital straight away, giving no indication of what he may be suffering from. 

I ran home with Joseph in his pram, where my mother-in-law and father-in-law were waiting with Marcus.  I told them that I needed to get to the hospital. I remember my mother-in-law's face looking down at Joseph's pale, limp body in his car seat and saying "I cannot believe we are doing this again!"  This had brought back memories of Marcus, Joseph's brother, having to go to hospital, being diagnosed with a blood disorder.  Tony and I left the house quietly, speechless as we drove to the hospital.

We had not been in the admissions area of our hospital for long, when a doctor came over to us and began asking us a series of questions about Joseph and his symptoms.  We explained his fitting, his projectile vomiting and his crying.  He returned shortly afterwards and said he thought Joseph had meningitis, but they would need to do blood tests.  This would take a few days to cultivate in order to be sure and what strain it was.

"The doctor's response left us numb, when he replied: 'We are doing all we can.'"

Joseph was isolated in a side ward and immediately given antibiotics.  After a few days, it was confirmed that Joseph indeed had meningitis, a bacterial form called Streptococcal B.  We were told his condition was serious, and I remember saying to the doctor: "He will survive won't he?"  The doctor's response left us numb, when he replied: "We are doing all we can."  The stony silence in that little room I will remember forever.

During the course of the next few days Joseph's condition improved.  After 10 days he was allowed home with a community nurse coming twice a day to administer his antibiotics.

Joseph grew to be what he is today, a beautiful, healthy 9 year old.  He has luckily suffered no side effects from his illness, but is aware he had meningitis, asking questions when he hears of other children who have had a similar illness.  His uncle also contracted viral meningitis three years ago, and has made a slow but steady recovery.

Tony and I have since attended a meningitis befriending course to help those in a similar plight.  We are proud to be members of the Foundation and fully support its mission in highlighting awareness for this serious condition.

Jacquie Pasqualone
March 2009