During the last weekend of January 2000 our family's life changed forever.
Early on Saturday morning our youngest daughter, Alice, who was two years old, started to feel a little unwell. Up to this point she had been a normal, healthy, robust little girl. She had a slightly raised temperature and was a little sick (although not enough to put her off her food). Her temperature was easily controlled by Calpol, so that she continued to be lively and playful.
By Saturday afternoon, her temperature remained high, with Calpol no longer having a significant effect. Our local GP visited us at home and after examining Alice, suggested we try Nurofen for her temperature, which we did.
Alice was well enough to have tea with her sisters on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning Alice was significantly worse and the head of our GP practice came to our house. Alice was by now lying on our sofa and moaning. Our GP thought she had had a febrile convulsion during the night and wrote a letter for us to take to Kings' College Hospital (our nearest hospital).
At Kings Alice was examined by a senior house doctor who thought that she had 'flu, prescribed Dioralyte and sent us home. However, by early Sunday evening we decided to take her back to Kings as she seemed to be deteriorating in front of us.
We were seen at once by the registrar, who thought immediately that Alice had pneumococcal meningitis. She was pumped full of antibiotics, sedated and taken for a brain scan, which revealed that she did have meningitis.