Meningitis in your words

Louis Walls's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Louis Walls

It was Valentine’s Day 2010. Louis had been a bit grizzly during the day but nothing that had made me think he was seriously ill.

As it was a Sunday I was making a roast which Louis loves! As he was a bit under the weather I let him have his dinner on his lap. I gave him his spoon for him to start eating but he couldn’t grip it properly. He became very drowsy very quickly and I did notice a rash developing on Louis' feet and chest.

I decided I would ring the out of hours doctor to get him seen by someone. When I called and gave all of Louis’ symptoms I asked the lady on the phone did she think it might be meningitis? To which she replied that it didn’t sound like it and not to worry but to take Louis to the out of hours surgery so they could double check. At 6pm I took Louis to the surgery and was seen by a doctor who seemed very distant and wanting to get us in and out as quickly as possible. The doctor checked Louis over i.e shining a light in his eyes checking his temperature and I informed the doctor that I had noticed a blotchy rash appear on Louis’ chest and feet. The doctor pulled Louis’ top down poked the rash and said ‘it’s fine’ and to take him home, give him Calpol and plenty of fluids.

"I willed for the rash to go each time I rolled the glass"

I did just as the doctor told me. I put Louis to bed at 7.30pm that evening and he went straight to sleep. At 11.30pm I went up to bed myself but something in me made me go into check Louis. As I walked into his room I could see his legs glowing – a purple rash was now very clear. He was very drowsy, still very unresponsive. I did the glass test on Louis and the rash did not go! I willed for the rash to go each time I rolled the glass across Louis' feet.

In that time I called the out of hours surgery back to tell them the change in Louis' condition. This time they told me to talk Louis back to the out of hours surgery so they could refer him to the local hospital, to which I said no and took Louis straight to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital Louis was asleep. I went to reception and told them my son may have meningitis; they told me to take a seat and someone would call me soon. As I sat down two nurses rushed over and took Louis from me. They took him to a side cubicle to check him over, put drips into his hands then took him into the major unit, where they gave him antibiotics and many other drugs. They were pumping fluids into Louis so much that his lungs were beginning to flood and they  put him into an induced coma.

In this time I was informed that there wasn’t a bed for us at my local hospital, and was told he would be moved to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, but I would have to make my own way there as there was no room for me to travel with Louis. I don’t really remember what I felt at that point, I just wanted my baby to be better.

15th February – 7am: I arrived at St Mary’s Hospital – Louis had been there two hours by that time in PICU. When I got to the ward a nurse there asked me why I hadn’t came with Louis and that there was plenty of room for me. At that point I didn’t care, I was there and my little boy was safe.

Louis was in a coma for four days. He responded to the treatment so well the nurses that were caring for him were very surprised as Louis was very ill when he arrived in London. Every day Louis was getting stronger. He was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia. I was told Louis would be transferred back to our hospital back home, but each day was told there was no room for Louis in the children’s ward. By Saturday St Mary’s were in great need for Louis’ bed and agreed he could be discharged home, but would still need daily medication at our local hospital which went OK, but Louis became wise to the doctors and nurses knowing they were going to stick yet another needle or more drugs into him and became quite aggressive towards some of them.

Louis didn’t have any after affects – hearing perfect! Such a relief. Louis will be three in April 2011, and he is a healthy happy little boy.

Hailey Keane
December 2011