Meningitis in your words

Nicole and Miah McGill's story

  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Young child 3-5
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Nicole and Miah McGill

It was two days after Easter in 2007. My beautiful baby girl Miah (15 months) was playing away as she always did, smiling and laughing with not a care in the world. 

Suddenly Miah became lifeless and sat on the floor in my arms. Her temperature was uncontrollable even with paracetamol. After only an hour or so we knew something was not right. It honestly seemed very viral with the exception of the odd red spot appearing under her skin. It was not a rash as such. 

At this point we took her to our GP for an emergency appointment, who immediately referred us to the children's ward at our local hospital. We drove Miah there straight away. 

She was tested for various things, which took 48 hours for the results. While waiting for the results, Miah was treated for meningitis. She was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia. Miah was treated in hospital for a week or so with intravenous medication and was also isolated from everyone. It was an awful experience, very distressing for Miah. I never left her side. 

"At the end of her treatment I was allowed to take her home, as long as we took her into hospital every remaining day until her treatment was finished. This was wonderful - Miah was able to be back in her own home with her family. Nicole (5) her older sister, missed her more than anyone could imagine."

On Miah's last day of treatment, Nicole had an appointment with the eye specialist at the hospital. So, we kept her off school to attend (whilst trying to maintain a normal environment for Nicole while Miah was seriously unwell). 

It was 10am, Miah and Nicole were dressed and ready to go to the hospital for just after 11am. We had plenty time before we had to leave. Instantly Nicole started shivering and complained of feeling very unwell. She shivered and shook drastically and her temperature was rising. Her dad and I looked at one another and said "car". No rash, no vomiting, just high temperature and shivering. We knew, but only because Miah was diagnosed with it. But, we just knew. 

We immediately bundled both girls into the car and rushed Nicole (in my arms) to the hospital. She was still shivering and at this point she was complaining of feeling sick and needing water. 

I ran with her in my arms to the kids' ward where Miah was being treated and shouted for help. I said it was now my other little girl who was unwell. They sent me with Nicole to isolation (it was actually Miah's room we were sent to) where she started vomiting violently. 

"Nicole lay on the bed in Miah's isolation room and started to settle down and feel less agitated. She lay resting for a very short while. She lay at the top of the bed whilst Miah lay at the bottom while getting her IV medication. A sight I never ever dreamt I'd see."

Nicole was given IV treatment to be on the safe side, for meningitis, given her sister also had it. 

It was roughly only a few hours later, late afternoon, 4ish (from memory) when Nicole started to rapidly deteriorate. She started hallucinating, didn't know where she was, couldn't see properly and was reaching for my face in panic...her skin started to turn purple and rashy right before my own two eyes. The septicaemia was taking over her body and I could see it happening. Nicole was surrounded by doctors, specialists etc etc. It all happened so quickly. 

It was at this point we were taken away and told she would need to be moved to Yorkhill kids' hospital ICU unit. We were to expect the worst. My heart sank. We were floored, both her daddy and I. Our little princess might not make it. To be told this, when we all should have been at home caring for our little Miah, helping her recover. We were scared. 

Nicole could not be moved until she was stable. She was hooked up to a million different machines and had IV drips in every limb. She looked in pain. Once she was stable, as she had fluid on the chest, the ICU team took her in an ambulance to the kids' hospital. We were not allowed in the ambulance with her. They needed anaesthetists and their ICU team just in case she needed ventilated in an emergency on the way between hospitals. 

"Nicole was treated in ICU and HDU for a week or so, then was put into isolation in the kids ward. She was then moved back to the hospital near where we live, to recover. I never left her side throughout the pain and hurt she went through."

Our family, friends and the Meningitis Research Foundation were all there to support us at the worst time in our lives. 

Both our little Princesses, Miah and Nicole, made a full recovery with absolutely no after effects to be seen. I truly believe getting them to the hospital so quickly saved both their lives. Someone was watching over them both. 

Even two years later, I cry thinking about it. I cry when I read someone else's story. I cry when I see a flashing ambulance pass by. I don't think you can fully get over such an ordeal. 

Michelle Scott
June 2009

Causes of meningitis and septicaemia
Causes of meningitis and septicaemia
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