Meningococcal Meningitis Survivor – Kaya Luna Aisake – Born 21/11/13
The life of Kaya Luna (so far)
For eight years I’ve cried on my daughter’s birthday. As each year of life passed, I have been slowly letting out the carefully compartmentalised pain and it’s become a blurry mess of colourful hurt. Now that she’s turning 10, it’s time to let the colours run free and let it all go.
It was the 18th of April, 2015 and Kaya was almost a year and half. She started showing signs of illness - refusing to eat or drink and had developed a fever. We called 'Nurse on Call' and described her symptoms. They suggested it might be gastro, and we trusted their judgment and didn’t want to overreact.
A midnight discussion followed, as my motherly instincts urged me to take her to the emergency room. I couldn't explain it, but something didn't feel right. After some persuasion, we decided not to go, although the "what if’s" haunted me for a long time.
We followed the advice from ‘Nurse on Call,’ cooling her in a bath to bring down the fever, and it worked temporarily. Kaya drank a full bottle of milk on Sunday morning, and we hoped that she was on the mend. She wasn't interested in walking or crawling, but we thought it was just part of her recovery.
On the morning of April 20, I woke up, looked at Kaya, and rushed her straight to the local GP. The doctor, calm and perceptive, took one look at her and urgently sent us to the nearest emergency room. Kaya's guttural wails of pain had become a constant dirge, a heartbreaking sound that signaled something terribly wrong.
In the emergency room, a pediatrician examined her. He asked her to walk, and although she resisted, her zombie-like walk confirmed his suspicions. Something was seriously wrong. The urgency in the room escalated, and they started treating her for meningitis without waiting for tests.
Time was crucial and each minute seemed to matter when it came to meningitis. They struggled to find a vein for the intravenous antibiotics, eventually locating one in her foot. Nurses played the Wiggles to distract her from the needle, and we found ourselves in a makeshift ICU. We had initially taken her to the closest hospital, unaware that a children's ICU was necessary. They assigned a nurse to be with her 24/7 until she stabilized. We were there, but we felt like ghosts unable to fully absorb the gravity of the situation.
Kaya underwent a lumbar puncture, a painful procedure that required two men and her father to hold her down while they inserted a needle into her spine to withdraw fluid—the only way to confirm Meningitis. She came out of that test with tiny self-inflicted cuts on her forehead, a testament to her fierce resistance. Tests confirmed she had Meningococcal Meningitis B. They administered various antibiotics throughout the night, it was all a blur.
The following day, the doctor casually mentioned that it seemed Kaya would make it, which made me realize I hadn't even considered the possibility that she might not. Meningococcal Meningitis was far more serious than I had ever imagined. I began researching, but the information I found was overwhelmingly bleak and I quickly stopped.
She spent 9 days in hospital. Her dad stayed with her every night, an unwavering display of commitment and love for his daughter. I couldn't have done it, in fact, I really disconnected myself from the whole experience in order to persevere through it