The phone call came from the nursery. 'Can you come and collect Grace, she's not well,' they said. I rushed down to the nursery. I wasn't worried, I'd had to bring her home from nursery last week with a high temperature too. It was January last year and there were lots of bugs going around.
I took her home and gave her Calpol to try and bring her temperature down. Then I noticed a couple of spots at the top of her thigh. Worried that it was meningitis, I got a glass from the kitchen and pressed it to her skin. The spots disappeared and I breathed a sigh of relief.
But later that night Grace started to get worse. She was sick a few times and then at 2am I lifted up her top and saw more spots on her chest and back. Panicking I rang for an ambulance. It arrived within minutes, and the paramedics took one look at Grace and gave her antibiotics straight away. 'We think it's meningitis,' they told us.
It was all a blur. Grace was rushed to hospital and when we got there she was pumped full of more antibiotics. We could see more and more spots appearing. The rash was spreading before our eyes. 'Mummy, can I have a drink,' she croaked at me, as she was rushed down the corridor into intensive care.
After two hours we were allowed in to see her. She was twice the size she was, she had been pumped up with so much fluid. 'Do you want her nightdress?' the nurse asked, holding it out. They'd had to cut her out of it. It smelt of her.
My husband Brian was adamant. 'We don't need it as a keepsake,' he told the nurse, shakily. 'She's coming back home with us.
Twenty four hours later she was still hanging on, but then the doctors had some devastating news. Grace's organs were failing. Her heart was so weak, they didn't know if she could survive any longer. Then her heart stopped completely. The crash team crowded round her, frantically trying to bring her back to life. The machine gave a beep. Her heart was fighting back.
'She may still have brain damage,' the doctor warned us. But he asked Grace some questions and she nodded her head. It looked like she was going to be alright. And she had some very special medicine to help her. As soon as she opened her eyes, her first visitor was her brother Thomas, six. They have an amazingly close bond, they are always doing things together.
He brought her a picture that he had drawn, of her in her hospital bed. She smiled, the first time that she'd smiled since she'd been in hospital. It filled me with hope.
I'd massage her hands and feet constantly, as they were turning black before my eyes. But they couldn't be saved. A week later she had her left leg amputated, and then a week later they had to take her right one too.
It was heartbreaking but it was her only chance. They were already infected and the doctors wanted to stop the infection spreading around her body.
She was so brave. Part of her left hand was removed too. But she didn't make a fuss. And we were just so grateful that she was still alive and we had her with us. She is just such an amazing girl, so caring.
She loves nothing more than to bake in the kitchen with me, making buns and cakes. I looked at her lying in her hospital bed with her bandaged hand and stumps. Would she ever be able to bake again?
When she was lying there fighting for her life I didn't think we'd ever see her at home again.
Four months later when her legs had started to heal, she was fitted with a prosthetic right leg, but her left leg was still painful. She had to have an operation to shave off some of the bone that was protruding so that she could have another prosthetic leg fitted. But it was still painful for her, so she refused to walk on them.
Now there's no stopping her. Occasionally her stumps get sore, and she can't walk for a while, but it doesn't stop her. She and Thomas play in the garden like they always used to do. He is a fantastic inspiration to her, she just wants to be normal like her big brother.
And she bakes too. She doesn't let it hold her back. She has found a way to balance the spoon in-between her wrists and she still bakes all her favourite cakes. She is the bravest little girl I know."
Words: Lucy Laing at Worldwide Features
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