Meningitis in your words

Sage's story

  • Date of illness: 10 Nov 2015
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
I got home from work on November 10th, 2015 my grandpa told me how my son – Sage - babbled non-stop, giving him directions on the way home from day care before falling asleep for his early evening nap.

Sage napped like usual until around 6:15pm. Shortly after he awoke he vomited. I thought he had a stomach bug, so I contacted the on call paediatrician to ask if it was okay to give him Pedialyte (a medication for dehydration). I kept him near to me the remainder of the night.

During the night I noticed that he was starting to feel warm and one of his arms kept jerking.  I stayed home from work to be with him the following day. He didn't want many of the bottles I offered him and he was still feverish and quiet, which was odd. I grew increasingly concerned as the day went on and even Googled the symptoms of influenza.

Around 6.15pm that evening I laid Sage in his Rock and Play, gave him some Tylenol for his fever, and made our other son, Skye, dinner. While Skye was eating he tried to get Sage's attention, but Sage stared back at him blankly. Skye then asked me why Sage wasn't smiling or laughing. My heart sank; I knew something was really, really off.

After dinner, I got both Sage and Skye ready for a bath. As I removed Sage's onesie he seemed to wince in pain as I pulled it over and off his head. In hindsight this pain was probably due to a stiff neck, a common symptom of meningitis. Sage vomited a second time while I bathed them.

After the bath I got them both dressed and gave Sage some more Pedialyte. However, around 7:15-7:30pm his eyes rolled back in his head and he began seizing. In a panic, I put him in his car seat to drive him to Mercy North. Quickly realising this wasn’t a good choice, I dialled 911. An ambulance arrived at our home and transported us to Mercy Hospital.

Staff in the ER said they were not sure what was going on with Sage, saying he needed a higher level of care because he continued to seize and his fever was 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Eric and I chose for Sage to be transferred to American Family Children's Hospital (AFCH) in Madison, Wisconsin.

When we got to AFCH doctors said they needed to do a spinal tap. We consented, but had no idea what they thought he had. By around 2am on November 12th, 2015 we were informed that Sage had pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

The resident doctor told us there was no telling what Sage's progress would be and that it would be up to his body to fight the infection. Sage fought hard and fortunately won the battle against meningitis! Today he is thriving; almost four years old and a wild child with no lasting effects from this terrible illness. We are so thankful for his recovery! 

If meningitis has taught us anything it is that this disease still happens in the United States - and not just to college kids. Trust your instincts and seek medical attention if your gut tells you something isn’t right! 

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