it’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
Kathy Thompson’s baby son Charlie was just 20 days old when he became seriously ill with e-coli meningitis.
The brave youngster fought back from the disease, but Kathy says the experience was like a bombshell exploding in their family, and the aftershocks are still happening.
The primary school worker, told the Examiner how her nine-month-old pride-and-joy Charlie is coping now.
She said: “I first noticed Charlie was unhappy being handled. He had a temperature of 38C and I called 111, who told me to head to the out of hours GP.
He diagnosed constipation or a virus and sent us home, even after I raised my concerns over cold hands and feet, plus a high-grade temperature in so tiny a baby. We were sent home.
“The doctor advised us to contact our normal GP the following day. During the night Charlie was worse. He didn’t want to be touched, was very disorientated and very out of sorts.
“In the morning, I had an overwhelming feeling and was sick to my stomach that something was badly wrong. I took my other children Harry, 10, and George, six, to school, and I called the GP and told her about his temperature and that I wasn’t willing to wait for a triage appointment.
“She agreed we see the paediatric team at the local hospital. I don’t know what it was, mother’s instinct or whatever, but before setting off, I packed a few days’ worth of clothes for Charlie and me.”
“We arrived in paediatrics and within 45 minutes he was being held down for a lumbar puncture. I will never forget the noise that came from my son in that room. They said he would be on antibiotics for at least 48 hours.”
“They admitted us. It was packed and I had to breastfeed my son on a chair in the corridor. He was so tiny they struggled to cannulate him (to allow drug administration intravenously).
“His arms were all used up trying and his only option was his foot. They started him on all sorts. Machines were popping, people were rushing. All the time my heart was breaking for him.
“We were given a room, with isolation stickers all over the doors and within 24 hours there was a positive on his lumbar puncture for bacterial meningitis. I couldn’t see my other two children because we were isolated. Or my husband Lee.
“The next day Charlie had to go to theatre. The strain was e-coli and he needed 21 days of iv antibiotics. Having to surrender him to theatre and giving him that last kiss nearly finished me off. I crumpled in a heap in the parents’ room and chastised myself for failing to do the one thing a mother should, protect him.”
“I was second guessing if I could have done things differently. Should I have ignored the doctor who sent us home and taken him straight to hospital?
Fortunately Charlie recovered but Kathy, from Leeds, said: “I get flashbacks and still can’t talk about what happened. I’m envious of Charlie because, at 20-days-old, he won’t remember. I on the other hand can’t move on. I feel guilty, and angry that we were sent home by the emergency doctor. And angry at myself for doing as we were told.”
* Meningitis Now is the founder of the meningitis movement and the only charity dedicated to fighting meningitis in the UK. For more information and to donate visit www.meningitisnow.org