Meningitis in your words

Sachin James Mason's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Sachin James Mason

Our experience happened back in September 2007 when our son Sachin was four months old. One afternoon I noticed that he just seemed 'out of sorts’ and a bit clingy. I just took it that he was teething and gave him some Calpol.

He was still unhappy the following morning: I breast fed him in the morning then gave him some more Calpol, he then vomited and I put this down to the fact that I gave him medicine straight after a feed. All the same I still had a 'nagging feeling' that he wasn't right so I took him to see my GP who checked him over and said he had a temperature and to continue giving him Calpol.

"I had instinctively known that something was very wrong"

I later went out for lunch with my sisters and Sachin's health got worse. In the restaurant his temperature increased, he was very clingy and agitated and he refused feeds which he had never done before. He was then sick again and it was then I noticed the rash under his babygro. I showed the rash to my sister who told me to do the glass test. I did this and the rash faded, but I was still not convinced. It was then that I noticed that one of the blotches on the back of his neck looked purpler than the others. I pressed the blotch with my finger and the mark did not fade. I said I was not happy and drove the four miles to our local hospital in Dorchester.

Whilst we were in the waiting room at A&E he seemed even quieter, and my gut feeling was that something was very wrong. He just sat in his car seat which was something that he never did. Sachin either had to be moving in a pram or having a cuddle to be content. He was also still refusing feeds from me which was again abnormal for him as he would have been quite happy to be attached to my boob all day!

I phoned my husband but he is a police officer and was unable to come and sit with us, so I phoned my mum and she came up straight away. We were then seen by a nurse who checked Sachin's temperature, said it was high and gave him a suppository. We were then seen by a doctor. She checked Sachin over and admitted she didn't know a lot about children but felt that in her opinion the rash wasn't anything 'nasty'. I said that I felt something was really wrong as his behaviour 'just wasn't him' and also pointed out that not all of the rash was the same. By this time Sachin was just sat in his car seat almost staring into space. He looked pale and was that hot he was uncomfortable to hold. He didn't even like being held which again was not like him as he was so affectionate. The doctor said she would talk to some of her colleagues. She returned and said she had spoken to a consultant at the children’s ward, explained to him that she felt that there was nothing to worry about and he had suggested that as a precaution I should see him before we go home.

Upstairs in the children’s ward I was greeted by another nurse and a student doctor. By this time Sachin's behaviour had changed again – he was very agitated and wouldn't stop crying. The student doctor asked me what felt like hundreds of questions whilst I was trying to comfort my screaming unbearably hot baby. I just kept thinking why cannot I not just see the consultant? And then he walked in and everything changed into what felt like a horrible dream. I was stood in this room holding Sachin who had his face towards me and wearing nothing but a nappy. His back was covered in this rash and I saw straight away that the consultant’s eyes were focused on the blotch at the back of Sachin's neck. His manner was very serious when he introduced himself, he then took Sachin off me, quickly examined him and within 30 seconds said 'I cannot be sure but I feel that your son has bacterial meningitis and so we will treat him as if he has got it'. I just wanted to collapse, they were the worst words I have ever heard. I had instinctively known that something was very wrong with Sachin, wanted somebody to take me seriously but at the same time wanted a professional to say 'no don't worry everything is fine you can go home’.

Everything happened very fast then, I went into the operating room with Sachin whilst they put a drip into his arm; I was warned it would be unpleasant and it was. He just screamed and screamed and looked at me with these begging eyes whilst I tried hopelessly to sing him lullabies and comfort him. When we came out of the room my husband had arrived. We were then taken into our own room and a nurse came and spoke to us and explained what would happen over the next few days. She said that Sachin was a very sick baby and she couldn't say what the outcome would be. We then had to take the same medicine as Sachin had as a precaution.

The following morning he was much happier. The consultant came in to check on him and said how pleased they were with his progress and that they felt that because he had recovered so quickly they expected him to make a full recovery, and thankfully he did. We stayed in the hospital for another week.

Sachin slept really badly for the next few months and woke up every hour, but I was just grateful that he was alive. I wish I had known about charities such as Meningitis Research Foundation so I could have spoken to somebody about concerns I had after we came out of hospital. My GP didn't know how to help with his sleeping and said he felt he was fine and suggested I gave him an antihistamine medicine to help him to sleep, which I refused.

Thankfully Sachin did make a full recovery and is a very happy, cheeky bright young boy who is full of life. I am so grateful to that consultant for how quickly he acted, as I know far too well from reading some of the tragic stories on here how different our story could have been. I wanted to tell my story to emphasise how important it is to do the glass test but not always to rely on it. Sachin was covered in a heat rash so the test didn't work on all areas of the rash. I also want to encourage others to trust your gut instinct. I knew when I walked into A&E and said that my baby has a rash that they must have heard in 50 times that day but I didn't care. I know that the medical staff would much prefer us to go in with a false alarm than to ever regret not going in.

Kim Mason
June 2012