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D vs Meningitis

15th November 2015

So this weekend was not a great one. D ended up (thankfully briefly) in intensive care on Thursday night and after pumping him full of antibiotics for 48 hours, he responded well to treatment and was allowed to come home on Saturday. He has to go back to hospital every day for more drips and checks and isn’t allowed out of the house or to see any other children until he’s been given the all clear, which we expect to happen in a week’s time if all goes well.

The official diagnosis was bacterial meningitis brought on by listeria. And now I wonder how on earth this has happened. Listeria is that thing pregnant women are told is dangerous to their unborn babies and to avoid foods that carry it – any dairy products or cold meats or anything like that, and it can take weeks for a problem to show up after contamination. Now of course, D has had many of these things – he has milk on cereal, butter and sometimes ham and cheese in sandwiches, yoghurts, etc etc. He has milk at nursery, food with other family members, and a younger sibling and cousin who could have carried something in as well.

So what was it? We may never know at this stage. We’re definitely taking steps to minimise the risk in future though as obviously something was amiss somewhere. I feel awful for the thought of it possibly being my fault in terms of food hygiene that could have lead to this.

…and on that note: don’t ask Dr Google about that form of meningitis. Dr Google will freak you out with words like “serious” and “fatal” and “complications”. Dr Google will make you think it’s your fault for not having prepped your home/food/whatever properly. As much as I see failures in what I’ve done, I am slightly reassured by the fact that if it was a food hygiene issue, surely other members of the household would have some form of illness too? Perhaps the more important issue here is why D’s immune system could not fight this when others could? I can only do my best with what I know now.

And that’s not to say this form of meningitis, and the extent to which D suffered with it, should be downplayed: it definitely is serious, and I feel incredibly lucky that D’s symptoms, of which we only saw one main one associated with meningitis (the rash – and it’s supposed to be ‘the last thing to appear’), appeared early and obviously enough for us to worry and take him straight to the hospital’s emergency department and in for treatment. We’re lucky that he responded well to it and that 3 days later you would never know anything had ever been wrong with him.

We are so thankful and lucky.