I’ve been trying to write about this for a while now, I’ve been struggling to find the words, the strength and the time. Our world was rocked so tremendously recently yet to the onlooker it appears to have left now physical scars. You are probably wondering what an earth I am talking about, so let me start at the beginning………
Sunday 2nd June about 1pm
Sitting watching tv with the kids and my little lad, Charlie (2.5yrs) starts wobbling towards me crying. Oww oww he’s saying in between tears, he’s also walking funny. My immediate reaction was that he was trying to poo, he sometimes suffers constipation and often walks that way when he’s trying to go. I picked him up to cuddle him and relaised he felt a little warm. I cuddled him for a while expecting him to go to the toilet, but he didn’t. Over the next hour or so he got really sleepy, still crying and still hot. So I made him a little bed on the sofa and laid him down.
“are you poorly little man?” I said to him. He didn’t reply, he looked quite sad, he then fell asleep. I text my husband to ask how he had been in the morning as I had been out taking my eldest to the cinema and he was now at work. He soon got back to be saying he had been fine, running round in the garden all morning. I told him he was now poorly and lying on the sofa and sent him this picture…
Charlie spent the rest if the afternoon in and out of sleep, crying every now again saying ow. He seemed to have a temperature, although I had no thermometer to check for sure but as a mum you can usually tell. I hate it when my kids are ill, i’m sure all mothers do. I’m a bit of a worrier so keep them close when they are. Due to this charlie stayed with us for the rest of the evening, with no improvement. I then took him up to bed in with us and cuddled him to sleep.
Sunday 2nd June about 1am.
Charlie woke screaming, unsettled, not making any sense. He was both floppy and jerky all at the same time. He was babbling gibberish. He was hot, very hot. Amongst the babble I made out the word drink so got hubby to get up to get him one. He seemed to be getting hotter by the second, I sat him up and removed his top, I needed to cool him down.
For a second I froze. Guy I said, stop, as he was about to leave the room to get a drink. There was a rash, starting to appear on his chest, red and purple, dark… I grabbed a glass of the bedside table and pressed it against his skin, no change. “Get me a phone, quickly” I said to Guy. How I was able to calmly say that I will never know.
Shaking a rang 111 (nhs direct). Guy took Charlie as he was still crying, still confused, still getting hotter. After answering some questions the lady on the phone said the paramedics were on their way to us, told us not to let him get cold and take him downstairs and put the lights on. I have honestly never been so terrified and full of adrenalin and yet so calm and controlled in all my life.
The paramedic arrived, by this time Charlie was floppy, still conscious and the rash was spreading all over his body. The paramedic took one look at him and radioed in with the words “we have a hot one, repeat a hot one”
He then attached a stats monitor (measures blood oxygen levels), I don’t remember the reading but he put him straight on oxygen. He then added a heart monitor and took his temp. It was 40.7 I will never forget that, I have never know a child that hot. He then told me very seriously that Charlie was very ill and he needed to get antibiotic into him straight away. I agreed and he did it. He then told me that an ambulance was on its way and we needed to be ready to go the minute it arrived.
The ambulance arrived and I carried my poorly baby half naked covered in wires and a horrific rash into the back. I said goodbye to my husband as he had to stay with the girls and off we went. We arrived at the hospital after a surreal journey spent telling charlie about the ambulance (not that he could hear/understand me) and making small talk with the paramedics. It wasn’t as I imagined the doors opened to a quiet place with a secret looking back door, we went through the door which lead straight into the ER. There was a team waiting for us. I laid Charlie on the bed and they took over. More monitors, more drugs, lots of questions and then we wait…..
He had a heart rate of 210, at the time this meant nothing to me but I now realise it was about double what it should be! We had to keep calling his name and keeping him conscious. If he started to loose consciousness/responsiveness the anesthetist was waiting beside him to intubate and rush him to the ITU (intensive care unit) I stood there, in my pyjamas, suddenly very cold and sick, my head swimming, I felt like I was going to collapse at any moment. But I couldn’t, I couldn’t leave Charlie. The doctor asked me if I’d like to lay on the bed to comfort him. I think she knew that if I didn’t lay down I was gonna fall down.
They decided he was stable enough to go onto the ward and they sent the waiting anesthetist away. I stayed on the bed, they wheeled us to the ward. We went into a private room, next to the nurses station. I looked around so many machines, so many wires, so many noises…. my poor little boy. Everything in the room beeped, every time he moved some alarm went off. A kind nurse came into the room, I have no idea who she was, I know it was one we got to know but I cannot remember who. She told me she’d be looking after us, made me a cuppa and got me some food. I think it was then that I first heard that word said to me “you understand we think he has meningitis”. “Yes” I replied, confirming my worst fear.
After calling my husband to let him know what was happening I lay down next to my boy, my poorly poorly boy. I didn’t cry, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t allow myself to take on the enormity of what was happening, I just stroked my baby’s hot little head and waited for the nurse. Charlie was frightened and confused and was on hourly obs so it was gonna be a long night……..