My daughter Kayla was your average happy, thriving, healthy 10-month old little girl. Just took her first few steps a couple of weeks prior, saying “mama”, “dada” and a few other little words only a parent would understand. She was stumbling around the furniture, having tantrums and playing happily with her siblings. We went to a bonfire display on November 5th and didn’t think anything of Kayla sleeping through the whole display. The next day Kayla appeared unwell, nothing serious just general wingy, bit of a temperature, the usual wintertime illness to be honest.
That evening dad went to the chemist to bu ya thermometor and Calpol so we could keep an eye on her. Half an hour after Calpol that night we tested her temperature and it was back to normal and she was playing happily with her sister. I took a bottle of water to bed to keep her hydrated. The next morning Kayla had climbed out of her cot and into bed with myself and daddy and was sat up “chattering” in the dark. As it was winter it was still dark at 6am but we just lay there chatting a while while the rest of the house slept.
6.30 came and dad decided to get up for work. He opened the bedroom door and the bathroom light shone in. He started laughing and said “has Kayla sneaked chocolate in her cot last night? She has it on her face.” I replied “don’t be daft.” He turned the light on to see. My heart stopped, I felt the blood drain from me. I didn’t even hear myself scream “oh my god ring an ambulance, she has meningitis!” I don’t know how I knew. I’d never seen a meningitis rash but I just knew. There were just 3 small bruise-like marks on her cheek. Like I said I didn’t hear myself scream but the rest of the house did. Everyone was up and running downstairs. I grabbed Kayla and was screaming at Dave to hurry up and ring an ambulance. At 6.30 am she all of a sudden just “flopped”. She just went limp, didn’t care what was going on, just lay there on the settee. As I grabbed the phone from Dave begging the ambulance to hurry. She’d gained 3 more bruise-like marks on her cheek. The most amazing ambulance men came to Kayla’s rescue 5 minutes later.
They didn’t say but I knew they knew it was meningitis. (Sepsis and Meningitis) They gave her a first massive dose of drugs (I later found out that day that that was what saved her! Any later she would not have made it). Luckily the hospital is a 5 min drive. We pulled up and I knew it was bad as the ambulance man grabbed Kayla, hugging her tight and ran through the doors leaving me running after him. We entered the major resus room where there were masses of people already waiting. Kayla was put on a table and she cried “dada”……then went quiet. We were asked to leave for a second (I dont remember much in the next hour or so I was just there but wasn’t?). A lady came to us and explained that Kayla was the sickedst person in the hospital at that time and please be prepared for Kayla to not make it, but assured us they were doing everything.
By this time my parents, best friend and sister were there. We went back to the room to find Kayla was being drilled into both shins but didn’t even flinch as her body was already shutting down. She felt nothing. 3 specialists from Manchester arrived and one told me to stop crying because Kayla wasn’t going to die on her watch and she need me to be strong. I left the room when Kayla was put into an induced coma. I went outside and sat on the floor in the rain and just cried and cried and prayed (I must have looked insane). I looked over the road the ambulance refused to move until they knew Kayla was ok. They stood looking at me as I sat in a puddle and I felt comfort. They were still there. It all happened so quick that I didn’t notice 10 hours had passed. She was finally stable enough to be transported to the Manchester peadiatric intensive care unit with the specialist. They were amazing, texting as we followed silently in the car behind, assuring me Kayla was safe with them. We were sent to a side room while they prepped Kayla and we were allowed in an hour later to be with her but were told the first 48 hours are touch and go and her blood pressure was dropping.
I didn’t recognise my beautiful baby. As I went to her, her little body had swollen twice almost 3 times the size as usual. She looked like she was going to burst and she was just covered head to toe in the bruise-like rash. There were touch-and-go moments over the next few days as she lay lifeless, letting the machines work her body so she didn’t have to. We talked and prayed to her and read her stories all day and night, every day and night she was there. One day she started to fit. This was worrying as we thought the disease was now affecting her brain. It turned out it wasn’t fits, it was withdrawals. She had become a 10-month old junky and was relying on stronger medication. We laugh about this now but it wasn’t nice at the time.
She was gradually weaned off strong medication. After 7 days in a coma, the time came to wake her. I’ve never felt so many emotions as I did that day. She groggily opened her eyes and tried to cry but the tube that had been down her throat the last week had left her with no voice. Her cry was silent and I was so sad for her.
The next 2 weeks she slowly started getting stronger with help from the amazing people at the hospital. She had lost so much weight it took days to get her to tolerate even a mouthful of toast or porridge. 3 weeks later we returned home with nothing but scars, war wounds, reminders and a new appreciation for life. We vowed never to say “just 1 minute” to the kids no matter how tired we were ever again because you never know if that 1 minute they lost your attention would be the last. And we never have.
Source: Alisha (mummy)