Meningitis in your words

Katie Buckingham's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Viral
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
Katie Buckingham

My brand new baby, Katie, was 21 days old on Saturday 18th July 2009, but she seemed a little off colour that day!

By the Sunday she was worse. I was a new mum, so I took her to our local NHS walk in centre. They checked her over and said she was fine, they made her a doctor’s appointment for later that day but told me if she fed in between then there was no need to attend. She fed, so we stayed home.

That night she had her bedtime feed at 10pm, then she woke about 1am which was her usual pattern. Except there was something wrong, she was so hot and she just wouldn’t latch on and she didn’t want to be touched. We stripped her off and I remember seeing her belly button was all distended, this is where my husband took over, I was an emotional wreck. Something was wrong with my baby!

"Those few hours could have cost Katie her life"

We spoke to the out of hours service – a doctor called back within minutes and told us to take her to hospital.

That night she had a tube up her nose to drain her stomach and a cannula in her tiny hand. The hours turned into days, it was my worst nightmare. They thought she had a problem with her bowel but eventually on the Tuesday she had a lumbar puncture. I remember seeing the nurse after the procedure, she was almost in tears. Later when they told us she had viral meningitis, I just held her and cried, thinking my precious baby was going to die.

I was emotionally and physically drained. Katie would feed for hours while they infused her antibiotics and I would set an alarm to wake me every three hours at night so that she didn’t become dehydrated. I don’t remember half of the things the doctors said to me, it was all a blur.

We were in hospital for a week and she was treated with antibiotics at home and in hospital for another two weeks after. She had around 10 cannulas and every time they had to replace it, it took two of us to hold her down, she has spirit that’s for sure!

She has had follow-up appointments with a specialist and also with audiology.

We have just celebrated her first birthday and it is the anniversary of her illness. She recently had an eye infection which tested positive for Hib bacteria; thankfully this was treated with antibiotics and she seems to have fully recovered.

Currently Katie is unable to hear low level sounds but she has more hearing tests coming up and we hope for an improvement in the future.

When I think back to that time, it is almost like it never happened, like a bad dream. The hospital staff were amazing and although my baby is growing up and in my eyes has beaten this hideous disease I cannot help but think how different our lives could have been if we had waited before taking her to hospital, those few hours could have cost Katie her life.

Katie never developed a rash, she didn’t even seem that ill and that is was scares me most about meningitis!

I became aware of the Foundation recently, and have applied to become a fundraiser by running the Great South Run in October 2010. I will be running it for my baby girl and to try and give something back.

Nicki Buckingham
August 2010