Meningitis in your words

Oliver Brown's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Grandparent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Oliver Brown

It was the 1st of March 2010 – I got a phone call from my daughter Charlene asking if I could take the kids to the doctor’s the next morning as they had a bit of a tummy bug. She had to go for an interview and couldn’t miss it.

On the Tuesday morning I went over. Aimee, my granddaughter, had been sick for a day or two and was a bad colour. She’s six years old. Little Oliver was five and a half months old, he was off colour also and off his food. I could tell by his wee eyes something wasn’t right. I took them to the doctor and she examined them and said it was a viral infection and gave them Calpol to help with the temperature.

By the next day Aimee was getting better, but Oliver was getting worse; he wouldn’t take anything to eat or drink, wanted to sleep and seemed agitated. His wee neck was a bit floppy and he wasn’t focusing on us when we spoke to him.

"How many times can your heart be wrenched in one day?"

The next day he was no better and he had a rash. Charlene did the glass test and it didn’t disappear. She took him to the doctor who told my daughter she was panicking for nothing, it was a viral infection. Charlene showed her the rash and the doctor told her not to heed the glass test that stretched the skin (something we had never heard of). We could have lost Oliver over the incompetence of that doctor. She told her to take him for a walk.

My daughter began to think she was panicking and took him home to keep a close eye on him, where the child slept from that afternoon to the next morning. When he was in Charlene’s arms he took a seizure and went limp, couldn’t breathe and his lips were turning blue. She was in a terrible state of shock, phoned a taxi and she was in such turmoil she went in her pyjamas and had her shoes on the wrong feet.

As soon as they saw him they rushed him into emergency. They did a lumbar puncture which determined he had meningitis. They did various tests and set up a drip to get fluids into him, as well as giving him the strongest antibiotics there are. When Aimee and I arrived I wasn’t expecting what I saw – it was heart-wrenching, my wee darling Ollie had wires and tubes everywhere and he was just staring into space.

"Oh what a sight, that wee darling was attached to a ventilator"

Me and Charlene broke our hearts, and I cried out to the Lord for help (as I am a born again Christian). We were devastated. Oliver’s blood pressure was dropping and the doctors told us he would have to go on a ventilator to help him breathe and they were transferring him to intensive care in the Royal Victoria Hospital. They took him up to theatre to prepare him. We prayed and prayed, and felt a peace come over us, we knew then that Oliver would be OK, that the Lord Jesus Christ had heard our cry.

They took us up to the theatre to see him before they took him in the ambulance, oh what a sight, that wee darling was attached to a ventilator, tubes everywhere and had his wee eyelids taped closed in case they got damaged on the journey. Our hearts hit the floor again.

There were two doctors with Ollie in the ambulance, and a police escort in front and behind with sirens blazing. They were taking no chances on any hold-ups, it was vital he got there as fast as possible. We followed behind in a taxi cab. We were able to contact his dad when he finished work and I phoned Pastor M’Kim for support and prayer. It was hours before we were able to go in and see Ollie: it was like something out of a movie, how many times can your heart be wrenched in one day?

My son-in-law had to go outside, he was so overcome with emotion at the sight of our darling child. The Pastor called a prayer meeting in church; hundreds of prayers went up to heaven and the Lord heard our cry. On Saturday the 6th Ollie was responding to treatment and was transferred to the children’s ward. On Tuesday he was well enough to be transferred back to Ulster Hospital. He was still ill but out of danger and was responding. But there was a lot of fluid around his brain and he couldn’t hold his wee head up himself, his neck was floppy.

Ollie was given very strong antibiotics and given iron; he had lost that much weight he was just like a newborn again. He was that fragile we had to lift him on a pillow for a while and his wee arms were black and blue from the drips. Charlene and I took turns to be with Ollie so he wouldn’t be left alone. Although the doctors and nursing staff were very attentive they couldn’t give him the time and attention we could.

It wasn’t long before we saw that gorgeous big smile again of Ollie’s – that smile would melt the toughest iceberg, and your heart. After three weeks’ treatment of antibiotics were finished they gave Ollie a CT scan of his brain and there was still a build-up of fluid which wasn’t dispersing quickly enough, so they did another lumbar puncture (which broke our hearts again) and started on more antibiotics.

The doctors are amazed at how well Oliver has done, they call him the miracle baby. The nursing staff told us when he was better they didn’t think he would return from the ICU, but the Lord Jesus had other plans for Ollie. Oliver had meningococcal meningitis, and it is a miracle he is perfect and has no after effects.

We would like to thank the doctors and nursing staff at the Maynard ward in the Ulster Hospital for their dedicated work, love and kindness to Oliver and ourselves, and also to the ICU team in the Royal Victoria Hospital. We appreciate everything you did for Oliver, may God bless you all.

Oliver is now eight and half months old and doing great, gaining weight. He is the happy boy he was before that horrible illness befell him, and that word meningitis will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

Thank you all again and thanks to Almighty God.

Anne Langseth and Charlene Brown
June 2010