The date 10th December 1992 will be forever etched in my memory. The previous evening my wife, Kathryn, and I, were visiting family friends with our newborn son, Oliver, only 10 weeks old. Oliver seemed off colour but was peaceful and relatively undisturbed.
During the night Oliver became agitated and Kathryn decided to cradle him in her arms. There was nothing unusual or extraordinary although Oliver’s fixed stare and the nature of his whimpering was different. At only 10 weeks old our poor son was unable to communicate the extent of his discomfort.
Kathryn’s motherly instinct and presence of mind told her that the symptoms should not be ignored and a visit to the GP would be worthwhile. I went to work assuming that everything would be ok when I returned in the evening. Thankfully a young doctor, Anne Beaumont, instantly identified the danger signs.
Dr Beaumont insisted Oliver was sent direct to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. My elderly mother drove Kathryn to the children’s hospital, where, to her surprise, medics were ready, expecting Oliver’s arrival.
The agonies then began. By this time Kathryn’s concerns were growing as Oliver’s condition deteriorated and worries started to escalate. Our 10 week old baby had now curled into a ball to relieve the pain in his spine. My wife was told a lumbar puncture was required to confirm Oliver’s suspected meningitis and the screams from Oliver, as his back was straightened to obtain the lumbar puncture, were agonizing for a mother to hear.