Meningitis in your words

Lee Thorburn's story

  • Location: Scotland
  • Categories: Listeria
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Other relative
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Epilepsy - Seizures (Fits)
Lee Thorburn

My nephew Lee was born on Thursday 3rd September 1998 to proud parents Linda and Grant Thorburn. On the same evening they noticed that Lee's hands and feet were slightly blue and mentioned this to nursing staff. Linda was told to put bootees and mitts on Lee.

On Friday 4th September Linda noticed that one of Lee's testicles was blue in colour and looked slightly bruised, but she was assured that often babies are bruised during delivery.

During his time in hospital, Lee never cried much and slept all the time and had to be wakened for his feeds. Again Linda was assured that this was not unusual and that she was lucky to have such a good baby.

On Sunday 6th September Lee was discharged.

On Monday 7th September Linda and Grant noticed a rash on Lee's feet, legs and head and mentioned it to the midwife, who thought it was down to the washing powder or new clothes that had been bought. The rash was not present three days later when Lee was admitted to hospital.

On Tuesday 8th September Linda told the midwife that Lee's eye's were rolling, but was told this was common.

On Thursday 10th September Lee went rigid and, after talking on the phone with the community midwife, Linda took Lee to see a GP who advised that Lee should be taken to hospital.

Lee was admitted to The Sick Kids in Edinburgh that evening and at seven days old was diagnosed with listeria meningitis. He was treated with antibiotics and had a hydrocephalus shunt fitted. He had a long stay in hospital. At the time Linda and Grant were furious that Lee's condition was not spotted earlier, but were told by the hospital that this type of meningitis was very rare in so young a baby and difficult for medical or nursing staff to diagnose.  

"Lee is now ten years old and has grown into a lovely young boy. He is the pride and joy of his parents and all the family",- says his aunt Jackie Reid.

Unfortunately Lee does not have the health or the active life of an average ten-year-old but with the mobility and ability he does have, he does extremely well. 

Lee has epilepsy, cerebral palsy, has learning difficulties and sensitive hearing, and he has recently been diagnosed with autism. 

He attended school from when he was five until recently. Lee has become upset at the mention of school and getting to school has become a problem. His parents are looking at alternative solutions at the moment.

He has adapted well using the computer and Linda and Grant are looking at programmes for him to use in his development as he has difficulty with pencils and drawing. He loves to watch television. Some of his favourite programmes are Family FortunesBullseyeWho wants to be a millionaire?, and Takeshi's Castle. He likes the interaction associated with these types of shows and goes through the motions of thinking about the answers to all the questions with great drama. These programmes also benefit his speech as he is very vocal when they are on. 

"Thank Goodness for Sky+!"

Oh, and he loves to sing. He enjoys cooking and visits to the shops with his mum, and visiting friends and family, but hates unpredictable situations so there is a lot of planning usually before each trip.

Lee will always need support from his parents and family, and will probably never live independently, although they encourage and work with Lee to teach him the social skills he needs for his future and, who knows, he may even go back to school. 

Lee's family have raised awareness of meningitis in the past by fundraising. Whether it was bagging a Munro or donating cash from celebrations, when money was donated instead of gifts.

Meningitis can kill in hours. The object of Lee's story is not to apportion blame; it's to make us aware.

Jackie Reid
May 2009

Detailed information about the after effects of meningitis

Many of the after effects of meningitis aren't immediately obvious. In this blog, Support Manager Cat explains how we can help.
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