On April 5 2009 Conor, my 15 year old son, came to my work complaining of headache. I only had an hour left to work so I told him to sit in the car until I was finished.
When we got home I gave him two paracetamol and sent him to bed. Conor is my second youngest of five sons aged 29 to 12 and out of all his brothers he has never been sick except for tonsillitis.
I checked on him a few times and he was feeling sick; I gave him drinks but he couldn't keep them down. I thought he had picked up a bug. The next morning I checked him before I left for work and he was sleeping.
For some unknown reason I left work early and got home about 4pm. My eldest son said Conor had been crying and the painkillers weren't helping his headache. I went to check on him and he begged me to help him and said he couldn't stand the pain any more. I checked him over - he had no pain in his neck and said the light didn't hurt his eyes. He had about five or six little spots on the inside of his arm. I asked my eldest son to check them with a glass; he said that you could see them faintly.
Our doctors' was closed so I called the duty doctor and was told to bring him in. He wasn't able to stand up or walk and one of my other sons had to dress him and carry him up the stairs. Conor is a big boy, he is about 6ft and weighs about 16 stone, so it was a bit of a struggle. I managed to get him into the surgery and the doctor took one look at him and said to get him back in the car - he would write a letter for the hospital and ring to tell them we were on our way.
Thankfully the hospital is only five minutes from the surgery. We got into A&E and he collapsed, was vomiting and delirious. They took him straight into a cubicle and at this stage he was punching and holding his head screaming and making long moaning sounds. The triage nurse had given him difene and I thought he was having a reaction to it because he was saying some really silly things and I thought he kept falling asleep, but I now know he was losing consciousness. It was now about 6pm and I should have been finishing work.
A few doctors came and examined him but no-one said anything. He wasn't able to answer their questions and most of the time he didn't know who I was. At this stage his hands were dark blue and his right side was ice-cold. Then a new doctor arrived - I call him Our Angel from God - Dr Rooney. He checked Conor over as best he could as at this stage he was highly agitated and wouldn't let anyone near him. By about 8pm they had taken blood and urine samples and they had come back clear.
Dr Rooney came in and said that as a precaution he was going to treat Conor for meningococcal meningitis and that if it wasn't that the drugs would not do him any harm, but if it was they would do him a power of good. But he was fighting them, he wouldn't let them get the drips in to start the treatment.