Meningitis in your words

Lucy Finn's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Child
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
Lucy Finn
It was Tuesday 8th November 2011 - a day I will never forget.

The day started normally and we headed off for lunch at a local soft play, Lucy dashed off with her friends but later complained that she had bumped her head on the slide. After a big cuddle and kiss she went back off to play. At lunch, she didn’t eat a thing however, crawled into the pushchair and quickly fell asleep. She woke as we left but then was sick as we arrived for school pick up. That explained it... she had a bug!

"Her sick was almost black and she was floppy and unresponsive."

Lucy was sick a couple of times in the evening, and whilst in the bath she complained that her head hurt. When I checked again, there was no visible mark and I didn’t think she had bumped her head hard. Lucy slept in our bed that night so we could keep an eye on her. She woke up a few times to be sick. She’d then have a little chat and go back to sleep.

The next morning Lucy woke as usual and came downstairs to snuggle on the sofa. I left the living room later for a few minutes and when I returned, Lucy had been sick again but this time was different. Her sick was almost black and she hadn’t woken up. I tried to wake Lucy but she was floppy and unresponsive. I checked her temperature and it was normal. She seemed to respond a little whilst I was speaking to Daddy at work and the doctor and I checked her for any rashes but her skin was normal. On the way to hospital to get her checked out, Lucy was talking but seemed very drowsy. I also noticed that her hands and feet were incredibly cold.

At A & E Lucy was admitted straightaway and had fluids pumped into her, but she was becoming more unresponsive and had now developed a high temperature as well as a couple of very tiny blemishes on her tummy and foot. Doctors started her on a course of antibiotics just in case she had meningitis!

Blood tests showed that Lucy had a severe bacterial infection and the results of a lumbar puncture indicated she had meningococcal meningitis.

By the time she had her lumbar puncture, Lucy had thankfully been on the antibiotics for 24 hours and was showing slight signs of improvement. She came home five days later. She was very weak for a while and it took months for her balance to return to normal. Other than having a hearing loss in her right ear now, she has made a full recovery.

When people think about meningitis, they think about ‘the rash’. This is however usually one of the last symptoms to develop and not everybody develops a rash. The rash only appears when the patient develops septicaemia (blood poisoning).

Fiona Finn
July 2016