Six and a half years ago my life was changed forever. My baby son Charlie was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis. It turned our world upside down when he died six days after his diagnosis. As we lay with our baby while he took his last breath we couldn't believe our cheeky little 15 week old boy had been so cruelly taken from us. One of the important things I want to get across is not to wait for a rash as pictured. Charlie never got a rash and many people don't. Please watch for the following symptoms...
Fever, cold hands and feet
Refusing food and vomiting
Fretful, dislike being handled
Drowsy, floppy, unresponsive
Rapid breathing or grunting
Pale blotchy skin
Unusual cry, moaning
Tense bulging soft spot
Stiff neck, dislike of bright lights
We've spent the past few years fundraising and rasising awareness of meningitis. It has been one of our main goals in life and we've raised over £35,000 for Meningitis Now. We've since gone on to have a daughter who was the image of her brother at the same age. We also have another son who is now almost ten. He was three when his baby brother died and we're proud of how he coped with so much heartbreak so young. They both talk about Charlie all the time and he's still very much part of our family.
Meningitis is a word my friends and family have heard me use many times but this time it's about me not Charlie. In a cruel twist of fate my Neurologist and my Neuropsychiatrist believe all my problems stem from an infection. My Neuropsychiatrist in particular believes it is from meningitis. Meningitis I hear you ask? The very same meningitis that killed your son? Well no not exactly. It was probably viral meningitis and I didn't even know I had it. How can you not know you had it? Are you stupid? Well it's probably best we don't answer that one but yes it's perfectly possible to have it and not know. What are the chances of two people in the same family having meningitis? The chances are very slim but hey we don't do things by halves in this family! If lightening was going to strike twice then it was going to be us.
So how do you cope with having the after effects of something that killed your baby? Well the truth is I'm relieved. Firstly to have an indication why I'm so ill and secondly to feel just a little part of what Charlie went through. It bonds us even more and something else we share. I want to share his suffering as any mother would. I want to be part of what he went through. I want to take something away from the pain he endured. There is something poetic in us both going through something similar. He will help me fight this and now I have several causes to fight. Bring them on!
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