Thursday, 11 July 2013

#R2BC Meningitis Scare

Last Thursday my 10yr old son was sent home from school as he complained he didn't feel very well. Now I don't know about you, but I'm a mean mum! If my children claim they feel unwell in the morning, and I'm not sure whether they're faking it or not, I send them to school telling them to tell their teacher if they don't feel any better. 9 times out of 10 they forget all about feeling ill once they see their friends! Of course my mean mummyness continues if they are off sick or they get sent home. No computer and they stay in bed! If they're too ill for school then they're too ill to be allowed out of bed and going out to play after school is a definate No-No!

Thursday morning, before school, he was quiet and tired and I put it down to him staying up late the night before playing on his tablet so I told him to go to school and that he wouldn't be allowed his tablet that night as it was obviously interrupting his sleep! However, when I dropped them off at school, I had a quick chat with his teacher and mentioned that he wasn't himself that morning. 

After picking my 3yr old up from playschool, I had just arrived at my mum's to do some secretarial work for her (she owns residential flats, in fact we're one of her tenants, and I often help her with her secretarial work) and as I was parking my car, she came out to say the school had rung and could I pick the boy up because he'd been sick. 

So off I went back to school to pick him up and when I got there he had brightened up a little bit, but he still wasn't his usual self so I brought him back to nanny's with me. 

Thursday evening and Friday morning he still wasn't his usual self, so I decided to let him stay home from school but that he was to stay in his bedroom and he did have some calpol. As the day went on, he would go from being happy and saying he felt better, to feeling sleepy and unhappy. It was obvious something wasn't right with him, but what?

Just before I went to pick the girls up from school he complained his head hurt and it hurt to move his neck. After quickly checking him for a rash, which I always do when they feel unwell, I gave him some more calpol and went to get the girls from school. 

A few hours later I heard him crying in his bedroom and when I went to check on him he was lying on his bed sobbing saying his head felt like it was going to explode and he couldn't lift his head off the pillow. I must admit I was concerned and you have all sorts of fears running through your mind as to what it could be! I checked him over to see if he had a rash and I asked him if he could put his chin on his chest, signs that I knew were of meningitis and he could them but it was obviously painful for him to do. 

By now the drs had closed and although we have a small cottage hospital with a minor injuries unit nearby, I knew friends had been sent away before for not phoning in advance so I tried ringing the out of hours. However after trying for several minutes I couldn't get an answer so I rang NHS Direct for advice. 

The lady I spoke to at NHS Direct was very helpful and asked me lots of questions and even spoke to my son. After she has spoken to a nurse and she learnt our nearest main hospital was over 60 miles away, she arranged for an ambulance to come and take us to hospital. I did offer to drive him myself, but she made a comment that if it was meningitis, like they suspected, an ambulance would be able to give him something to help straight away. I knew how serious meningitis is because one of his classmates died of meningitis a few years ago, just a week before his 5th birthday!

When the girls heard that the boy had to go to hospital by ambulance they became very upset, sobbing and clinging to their brother, saying they were worried about him and didn't want him to go. When the ambulance arrived , and when the ambulance turned up they were even worse! I walked the boy down to the ambulance and we got into the back. One of the paramedics was a local boy that I've known most of my life, in fact we used to be in the same class at primary school, so this helped put me at ease, seeing a familiar face. 



The paramedics didn't think it was meningitis as he looked too well! He also said that although my son was sensitive to the light, it wasn't severe enough to be photosensitivity, which is a major sign of meningitis. They phoned the out of hours doctor and spoke to her and after hearing their opinions of the boy the doctor arranged to come to my house for a house call that night.

We said goodbye to the paramedics and the boy went back upstairs to lots of relieved hugs from his sisters. They of course wanted to wait up for the doctor, but everyone except me fell asleep!

It was about 9pm when we left the ambulance and we were told the doctor had to make another housecall at a town around 30-40 miles away and would be over to visit around 11.30pm. She finally made it at midnight.

The doctor was a lovely German lady and after waking the boy up she had a look at him. She diagnosed him with something called Occipital Neuralgia. The Occipital nerves are the nerves which run from the top of the spinal cord at the base of the neck and up through the scalp and when they are inflamed or injured they can cause;
  • Aching, burning and throbbing pain which typically starts at the bast of the head and radiates to the scalp
  • Pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tender scalp
  • Pain when moving the neck
The doctor prescribed a kind of massage/acupuncture which she showed me how to do on the inflamed nerves and mentioned getting him a physio appointment as they could try some ultrasound therapy to help as well. 

The doctor herself was very friendly and full of sympathy for the boy, especially as she herself has suffered from Occipital Neuralgia in the past. I thanked her for making the trip out to see him at home and she said she was happy to as she knew he would be more comfortable and relaxed which makes it easier to examine him. 



As she was leaving I made a comment about how that night had made me so grateful for the NHS and knowing that I could phone for advice and an appointment without worrying about the cost. I had watched a program a few weeks earlier about a man named Wesley Warren Jnr in America who had an enlarged testicle and because he couldn't work because of the size of it he was on benefits. This meant that his medical insurance could only cover an operation in his state of Nevada, but no one there had the experience or willingness to do it. Finally he did find a doctor who would operate, but they wanted $1,000,000 to do it. He was heartbroken because he needed the operation but no way could he afford that and he was over the moon when the doctor agreed to do it for free. 

The doctor agreed with me about how wonderful the NHS is, but then of course we got on to the main difficulties/problems that are causing the NHS to fail. Things like too many managers on too much money meaning the money couldn't filter down to hire essential nurses etc. We also spoke about tourists and how they come over to this country and are entitled to free health care, despite not living in this country. How some will deliberately come over because a plane ticket to the UK was cheaper than healthcare in their own country and as soon as they arrive they head to the nearest hospital knowing they will be treated. This is really annoying as we need travel insurance when we go abroad and it should be the same for tourists coming here, which the doctor agreed with, especially as she needs to make sure she has travel insurance when she returns to her home country of Germany. 

On Monday I had him back to the doctor's as I wondered if he has hayfever as well. His nose had been streaming all weekend and it made me realise that he has a runny nose every summer. The doctor gave him some anti-histamine to try and see if it helped. That night he fell asleep at 6pm and didn't wake up till 7am the following morning and despite not having any tea the night before, he didn't want any breakfast either. For my son to refuse food means he isn't well at all so I kept him off school again. 

Wednesday morning he finally seemed himself again and I sent him back to school. The anti-histamine seems to be working and although he doesn't like the bright sunshine, his nose isn't streaming anymore and he hasn't complained of any headaches. I also had a chat with his teacher and told her everything that had been going on so she could keep an eye on him. 

On Monday he had a lovely surprise as he received some new Doctor Who toys to review from Character Options which cheered him up!


So these are my reasons to be cheerful this week. I'm so grateful that my son didn't have meningitis, but if he had, thanks to the NHS, the paramedics, Dr and NHS direct he would have been seen quickly and this would hopefully lessened the complications of that deadly disease. 

What about you? Do you have anything that is making you feel blessed or thankful? Why not join up with the #R2BC Reasons to be Cheerful linky this week. It's a wonderful opportunity to find the positives in your life as too often we're full of the negatives! If you want to learn more about #R2BC, why not have a look about why Mich from Mummy From The Heart started it and what she believes about it. 

If you want to join in, then go for it and jump right in. Just make sure you remember to link up with the linky below. The fab thing about this linky is that there are no rules and you can link up whatever you like. Just remember to visit all the other blogs which are linked up as well and share the comment love as everyone love to see comments on their blogs and to know that it's being read and enjoyed

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

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