Meningitis in your words

Ryan Ellingham's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Young child 3-5
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Ryan Ellingham

Ryan, who was three and a half, had woken us at 5am; he was burning up but that was nothing unusual for Ry, he always had something!

But with a two-week-old baby in the house I thought best to get him checked out. We went to the doctors at about 11am and I was told it was a virus. 

By 4pm he was no better, even hotter and had been sick, he was just laying about. He wanted the toilet but when he got up he collapsed into a heap on the lounge floor so I grabbed the potty. It was when I took his pants down that I found the rash. What seemed like hours was seconds, but I didn't even do the tumbler test - I knew straight away.

I phoned the surgery and my mother-in-law (as I do not drive) and we took him straight down. The doctor told me he suspected meningitis and gave him an injection straight away and called for a blue light. My mother-in-law and I waited with Ryan in silence. My mum stayed with our baby Liam to look after him. 

On the way to hospital in the ambulance the rash was developing all over him in front of my eyes - I must have started to panic as the guys in the ambulance gave both Ryan and I oxygen. 

They took him straight into resus and what seemed like loads of people starting working on him. I sat with him holding his tiny hand while they did the lumbar puncture, talking to him and reassuring him the whole time; I doubt he could hear me, he was completely out of it by then.

"I remember sitting by his bed all night planning a funeral in my head."

My partner joined us at A&E and we were told they didn't know what the outcome would be as he was very poorly. I remember sitting by his bed all night planning a funeral in my head; this sounds awful but its all I could think of. But at 5am he woke up and said he was starving - I burst into tears. 

It was confirmed he was suffering from meningococcal septicaemia Group B. We spent six days in hospital and a further two weeks going back to hospital every day for IV antibiotics. We were later told that had he not had the jab at our local surgery and we had travelled to our nearest hospital by car (which was about 13 miles away) - bearing in mind it was then rush hour - it would have been fatal. 

Ryan made a full recovery, although he seemed to pick everything up for a few years, and he is now 11. I still think about that day and can remember everything, and the sound of a siren still goes right through me. Thinking about it brings tears to my eyes but I am forever grateful to the doctor who gave him his first injection and all the staff at Ipswich Hospital.

Rachael Evans
June 2009

Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia
Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia
A major cause of meningitis