Throughout the night I nursed Joe with Calpol and cold flannels. He wasn’t losing consciousness but by 3 or 4 in the morning I knew I’d have to get him down to the doctor first thing.
Andy crept in at 8.00 to say he’d take Robbie to work with him and as Joe seemed to have finally dropped off to sleep I decided to have a quick bath. I made a cup of tea and ran a bath and went to check him. He stirred and asked for a drink, I was delighted thinking this was a good sign, I got him some juice in a beaker and went to sit him up.
As I pulled the duvet back I was met with the sight of a large spreading black rash all over his little legs. I know I gasped and somehow carried on giving him his drink, I didn’t need to do the tumbler test, I’d read enough leaflets to know that this was meningitis and Joe had already been battling with it all night. At this point all I could feel was turmoil of fear and anger at myself for not spotting this earlier. I grabbed the phone next to the bed and my mind went blank, I couldn’t remember the emergency number.
After I’d called the ambulance and called Andy I explained to Joe what was going to happen, and quickly threw a few things into a bag.
We only have one ambulance in Pateley bridge but it was there in 5 minutes. As we drove to the hospital I was watching the rash develop on Joe’s face. I knew we were in a race against time, but both at that time and throughout the rest of days to follow I had an indestructible determination that we would make it on time and we would make it through this in one piece.
Joe was given the first of many massive doses of antibiotics and as we were being wheeled up to the ward I asked the doctor if he were confident the antibiotics would arrest the spread of the disease. He responded in a terrifyingly gentle manner that we’d need to “wait and see.”
As the nurses got to work hooking Joe up to drips and monitors I had a minute of quiet. I stood in the corridor of the children’s ward and for a moment thought to myself why me? Why Joe.
But even as I thought it, the determination came back. The nurse told me Joe must have been incubating this for days.