Meningitis in your words

William Phillips's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Young child 3-5
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
William Phillips

During the afternoon of 6 February 2009 William complained of an earache. He had been prone to ear infections as a baby, so we made an appointment with a nurse at our local practice. She confirmed that his ear was a bit red, but that was all.

The next day he was totally fine and we had a family day out. During that night he was sick numerous times and was restless all night, but as he had been like this with ear infections as a baby, we put it down to him getting another infection in his ear.

"We are so lucky to have him here, and partial hearing loss is such a small price to pay"

The following morning William was asleep, and I just kept thinking about how he was during the night and that something just didn't seem right. To this day I do not know what it was. I called the out of hours service and made an appointment to take William to the hospital that morning.

My husband and I tried dressing William. He was quite drowsy and my husband remembers William being a yellow colour.

At the hospital the doctor examined him and called an ambulance straight away. William was diagnosed with meningitis, but he was too ill for a lumbar puncture, so was treated for both bacterial and viral meningitis.

He was in a High Dependency Unit for 24 hours, with hourly observations. I will always remember him calling out, sounding terrified, like he was having bad dreams. We couldn't console him. Without a doubt it was the worst time of our life.

After he was stabilised William was moved out of HDU. I stayed in hospital with him for a week. During that week William recovered enough to have a lumbar puncture and it was found that he had pneumococcal meningitis.

At the end of the first week we were allowed home, but I had to take William to the hospital every day for another week for hour-long antibiotics. He was then discharged, on the basis that we call the hospital straight away if we were not happy with his condition.

Looking back his recovery was so quick when we look at just how very poorly he was.

William then attended lots of hospital appointments and was found to have a hearing problem. He had grommets fitted last July, but these have made little difference. William has now been diagnosed with a loss of hearing in both ears and been fitted with hearing aids. When I was initially told that William needed hearing aids I was in shock and so upset

Now I can see that we are so lucky to have him here with us, and that actually partial hearing loss is such a small price to pay, compared to the alternatives.

William has been brave all through our ordeal. He has taken it in his stride and has rarely complained. He has only been upset when his hearing aids initially hurt, but that's it, and now he has more suitable ones he is fine. We are so proud of him and how he is coping. He doesn't mind wearing his hearing aids at all now. They have become part of our daily routine.

As his parents, my husband and I are eternally thankful that he is still here with us and continues to grow and achieve all that a little fella of his age should.

Gail Phillips
January 2010