I heard him call me at about 6.30am. When I went to him he said he wanted to go to the toilet but was unable to get out of bed as he still felt unwell. I called his Dad to help as Michael, although only 14, was 5ft 10ins and rather heavy for me to lift. When the covers were drawn back, I could see that he had bruising on the tops of his feet which I thought was odd and this started bells ringing. I rang the doctor and described what was wrong. The lady who took the call said she'd send someone 'right away' and within 15 minutes we had a doctor at our door. I think he immediately knew what was wrong as he gave Michael an injection and said we should get him to hospital as soon as possible. He told us he suspected meningitis but strangely enough it didn't alarm me too much at the time. We attempted to get him out of bed but by this time he was complaining of feeling 'too sore all over' so we called for an ambulance. I also rang a friend to come to our house as Laura was still asleep. The ambulance came quickly and Michael was taken to the children's wing of the local hospital. I went with him and his Dad followed in the car.
We arrived at approximately 8am and I can remember telling Michael this was where he was born. He was rushed into a room and I was put in a side room. From then on things happened fast. His Dad arrived and a bit later we were told he'd have to be sedated and that we could speak with him for a few moments before that happened. When we saw him on the bed, he was covered by a purplish rash, which was quite a shock, and yet I still felt no alarm, only relief that he was where I felt he could be helped. His last words to me before they sedated him was, 'don't worry, Mum'. He was then transferred to Intensive Care and we were again put in a side room. At one point a doctor came in a said 'things were serious' and that we were to be prepared for the fact Michael may lose a limb, be deaf or brain damaged. By then we felt sick with worry.
At 9.50am, less than two hours from our arrival at the hospital, a nurse and doctor entered the room to tell us, 'we've lost him'.
I cannot describe the feeling when I heard those words. I was stunned and felt sick, I couldn't stand. His Dad however, raged and kicked out at the walls. It was so distressing. The anguish and despair we felt grew with the minutes that passed, then we were taken in to see him. Michael was laid out lifeless on a bed with a nurse sitting by him. I can remember thinking how swollen his face was and he was quite purple. But one of the things that sticks with me was how perfect his nails were - I hadn't realised until then that he must have stopped biting them and I hadn't noticed before.
When we left it was with leadened hearts and the sorrowful realisation of 'how do we tell Laura?' We went home, rang her school and said we'd come in to collect her once we'd made some calls. Those were dreadful, telling other family and friends the awful news. Word had got round that he had been rushed to hospital and one of his friends rang the house having left school to go to a phone box (kids didn't have mobiles then). That poor boy went home distressed as did others when they heard. When we picked up Laura and told her I can't remember much about what was said, only the tightness of her little hand as we left to go home.