Meningitis in your words

Koray McGowan's story

  • Location: Ireland
  • Categories: Group C meningococcal (Men C)
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Koray McGowan

This is my son’s story the most terrifying time in his life and mine as a mother.

He was studying hard for his leaving cert, they had only few weeks before it began. He came home one evening snuffling, “Think I have a cold, felt awful at school, had headache all day couldn’t concentrate with it, mum,” he said. So he went up to bed and I gave him Panadol for the headache and told him sleep for a while.

I checked on him after an hour. He had developed a temp at this stage and didn’t want the curtains open as light hurt his eyes. But I really didn’t pass too much heed as this can be symptoms of flu or throat infection which he would get now and again. He also said he felt like he was going to puke, so I said then you must have an infection, we’ll bring the doc in the morning and not let it get any worse at this stage. He just wanted to sleep, so I made him drink loads water and left him to sleep.

At about 8 that night I heard him call me, “get something, I’m going puke”, he shouted. So I had a small bin I gave him, he did and it was just green water. His whole body was boiling and his feet and hands were freezing. My bf said his feet are like ice and his shoulders were so hot to touch. He was near crying. The pains all over his body was unbearable, he said. So my bf and I said, right this doesn’t look good I’m bringing him to casualty.

It was busy as usual there. He could barely walk with pain everywhere and the bright lights were killing his eyes. He had a 40 temp and just wanted to sleep. They said that we’d be waiting a while. So we did, but he was deteriorating in seconds, so I kept saying to nurse, “he’s so bad please get someone to look at him”. So they eventually did and he was taken to be assessed.

"That doc saved his life with his fast reaction."

They did normal checks and said it could be a virus and did bloods but we’d have to wait for the result. But as we were waiting, he was breathing shallow and pin head red spots started to appear on his arm and stomach, so I immediately thought, meningitis. I called a nurse to look when she seen them she just ran and 4 docs came back and it was mayhem from there. Luckily one doc said it looks like meningitis we are going to give intravenous antibiotics for meningitis till we have definite result from bloods. That doc saved his life with his fast reaction. Because he got treatment so fast, I’m ever thankful to him because my son was slipping into a coma and then it was bad news if that had happened, as the result came back, positive meningitis c -  a rare form in this day and age but lethal.

The doc said if I had been 30 mins later or had left him to sleep thru the night I would have found him dead in bed in the morning but with their fast treatment it was caught in time.

He spent 12 days in quarantine a lot of tests, MRI etc. had slight nerve damage in his eyes but it repaired itself and his memory was terrible for a few months. But 3 yrs. on and he’s grand. He missed a lot of school but sat his leaving and got thru and I was so proud of him on his graduation. It meant so much.

My last word on it is trust your motherly instinct. If it feels wrong run to hospital and waste no time it’s a very fast moving sickness and the longer it’s untreated the more damage it does. My biggest advice is TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. React fast to it if you suspect its meningitis. I’m talking minutes not hours.

Jacintha McGowan
June 2018

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