Meningitis in your words

Ryan's story

  • Date of illness: 27 Oct 2007
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
My son Ryan was born on 10 August 2006. He was a healthy 8lbs 1oz baby. He was so funny, so cute, with big blue eyes and blonde hair. He was perfect. I had a beautiful baby boy for 14 months. 

On 27 October the next year, we were at my middle son’s last soccer game. Ryan was running around playing with soccer balls, eating snacks, drinking his juice, riding on his daddy’s neck, smiling and laughing. It was a great day. The weather was perfect. We were doing the same thing we do every other night – playing, walking, running, eating dinner. Normal things.

By 4.30am next morning, Ryan was a little crabby. He was so tired he pretty much slept through the day. When I took his temperature he had a little bit of a fever, but not too bad (he was also teething).

On the 29th, he was still really tired. I called the doctor who said to check for wet diapers and to give him plenty of fluids. But he didn’t have a wet diaper and he wouldn’t drink anything. I went to the emergency room, where we waited for 3½ hours before we got in. They gave him fluids and got a blood culture, but he still wasn’t perking up.

On the 30th, we got a phone call from the doctor telling us we needed to get Ryan to the hospital. I drove as fast as I could. When we got there they gave him a spinal tap and told us we would be in hospital for 7 to 10 days. We had to wear gloves, mask and gowns. My poor little guy had tubes and wires all over him.

Around 11.30pm, they put an IV in his leg – a blood platelet transfusion, I think. That’s when it all happened: nurses running, machines going off, all this beeping and ringing. I was yelling, telling them to help him. I was going crazy. It felt like a very bad dream.

By 31 October at 12.20am, he was gone. I didn’t hear machines or anything. It was silent. It felt like they were trying to keep me from him. There was nothing I could do. There was nothing my husband could do. We were helpless.

Pneumococcal / streptococcal meningitis had just taken our son! The ride home was lonely, quiet and sad. Still in shock. How was I supposed to tell his brothers that Ryan had just died?

Ryan was such a sweet baby. He is loved and missed every day. Halloween will never be the same again.

The message I want to give for any parent out there is: GO WITH YOUR GUT!

If you get scared, have a bad feeling or something doesn’t seem right with your child, go to the hospital. It is better safe than sorry. Time is not on your side when it comes to this disease. You have to act fast. We learned the hard way. We are still suffering and will be forever. I think to myself: “I should’ve done this first” or “What if I would have done this?” 

I hope this story helps parents and saves a child’s life. We are lucky to have the honour of being Ryan’s parents: two birthdays, two Labor Days, one Christmas, one Halloween. One of each holiday. We cherish every moment we had with him.

We miss you so much Ryan; we love you so much. You will always be with us.
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