Meningitis in your words

Zak Henderson's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Child
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Cerebral palsy
Zak Henderson

On the Thursday Zak had a high temperature and was sent home from nursery. On Friday he appeared to be a little better till night time, then he was sick and his temperature went up again. 

Saturday I took Zak to the emergency doctor who admitted him to the children's ward with what they thought was a severe chest infection. He was watched all day but wouldn't drink (which was very unlike him) and slept all day, and when he was awake he kept covering his eyes. Bloods were done at 4pm and we were being sent home about 8pm, but the health care assistant wasn't happy so spoke to the nurse and he was kept in. Good job because two and a half hours later after change of doctor and a lumbar puncture I was told Zak has pneumococcal meningitis. I thought my world had ended, I couldn't believe that they had been sending him home two hours earlier.

He was given antibiotics and I was told to wait and see how he responded, which he didn't. 

Sunday I was told his pupils had blown and that he needed transferring to Addenbrookes where they could deal with him better. He was taken to theatre where he was ventilated and then to intensive care where we waited on the Recovery team. I followed the ambulance and had to wait to see him,  not good, tubes everywhere.

Monday he started fitting , nothing could stop him, his temperature was sky high, packed with ice, nothing worked. Must have been two or three days till eventually he did stop. By this point I was told it would be dolly steps for improvement. Zak eventually left PICU and went to the ward still having feeding tubes in.

Three weeks after being admitted to Addenbrookes we were getting transferred back to our local hospital thinking things were on the up. In transfer Zak had a rash appear on him, which slowly got worse over next day or so. 

Friday I got call to get to hospital ASAP, Zak was fitting again and by then they thought he was coning. Once again my world collapsed after thinking we were on the mend, and once again he had to be ventilated and transferred back to Addenbrookes. This time we were told to expect the worst, but amazingly on the Sunday things started to slowly improve. 

After another few weeks we were sent back to our own hospital where it soon became apparent to me that my little boy wasn't going to be the same as he was. 

"Nine weeks after being admitted he was let home. It has been five hard years but he is still fighting and very very slowly improving",- says Zak's mother.

He has been left with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and is fully dependant on others for all his needs, but he has a wonderful laugh and a strange sense of humour and can melt the heart of anyone who has contact with him. 

I can’t explain how I feel about losing the boy I had, all my dreams for the future were taken from me on that awful day but I am lucky because I still have him here, being a cheeky little monkey in his own way just like any other six year old boy.

Vikki Henderson
July 2010