The most traumatic time for my husband Henry was signing medical forms giving approval for amputations should the medical team be faced with such a decision. Thankfully I knew nothing about such forms until we were all safely home from hospital.
During Claire's time in hospital, neighbours, family and friends cared for our younger daughter Grace.
Claire woke up on Christmas morning. We witnessed the true meaning of Christmas. Our parish curate read a beautiful verse to Claire, I felt it was penned especially for her. For the first time in eight days Claire was free from all machines, the silence in her ward was eerie. It had been a very strange eight day journey, mixed with considerable emotion. Four days later we were on our way home. As we stood on the steps of Temple St Hospital, I shed a tear for the many children that never made it home as a consequence of meningitis.
A neighbour gave me Meningitis Research Foundation's helpline phone number. I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about the organisation. The time ahead for Claire was tough, very tough. Her energy levels was non existent, her sleep pattern went crazy, there were many outbursts of tears. She cried and cried from lack of sleep, yet she was unable to fall asleep. These symptoms lasted for months.
The helpline became our life-line giving us the vital reassurance needed about the disease. We never needed to check the clock or the calendar before making the call to the helpline, there was always someone to listen and advise.
It's now 13 months since Claire got meningitis, she is three inches taller and in three days time she will be fourteen years old. Claire started Secondary School in September. It was a big day for us all. She loves her new school and in particular participating in the basketball team.
We will never forget the care given by ICU staff in Temple Street. The was always an element of excitement between nurses as they finished three long days of 12hours shifts and headed home to their husbands, wives, babies, parents etc. For Nurse Tessa her journey home was made every two years, home was the Philippine Islands. During Clarie's time in hospital we were very much aware that there were other children in ICU, but we all understood to respect each other's privacy.
It's hard to believe that something as simple as flu-like symptoms could have such devastating consequences in a matter of hours.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our meningitis experience with you.