20 years ago something happened to my family that I still think about almost daily. It is still leaving rippling affects to me and my gorgeous 3 girls who are now grown up with their own families and have gifted me 6 gorgeous grand children.
I had recently started a new job that I was very much enjoying. It was in a school which meant I got the school holidays off with my 3 girls who were aged 5, 9 and 10 years old. The youngest had just started school and was in her new reception class.
It was February and we’d had a few weeks of bad colds/flu in the house and the youngest seemed to be struggling to get over it. Her cold had gone but she just wasn’t fully better, she was just quiet, she’d lost her sparkle. So much so that I had bought her some vitamins tonic to try and perk her up. I’d had her at the Dr. to makes sure there was no underlying chest infection but everything was fine. This had gone on for a week, she was managing at school but was not fighting fit. I put it down to her bad cold having just sapped her energy and she’d get better over time.
That evening as she was getting ready for bed she felt sick. She was actually sick just the once. She also said her fingers hurt. I told her not to worry, have good nights sleep and she could stay home from school the next day as her Dad was working over night so could stay at home with her. In the morning she was very quiet still and very unusually for a 5 year old was happy just to lie in bed for some extra rest. I went off to work and her Dad was in the bedroom next door, ready for when she wanted to get up. She hadn’t been sick anymore but I asked my husband to make her a Dr’s appointment when the surgery opened.
At work when break time came I was making a cup of coffee and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I’ve never had a feeling like it before or since.I knew something was wrong. I immediately rang my husband to see how my little girl was.
He said she was fine and asleep in bed. He’d got her a Dr’s appointment at 4:15, the time now was 10:30. I had this panic feeling that I couldn’t shake. I told my husband I wanted to come home, he said there was no need, she was fine, she’d had milk to drink and was still sleeping. I needed to go home though so I convinced him to ring work and tell them my little girl wasn’t well and I needed to go home. It took about 5 minutes that seemed like 5 hours for my boss to come and tell me he thought I should go home, they’d cover my classes as my husband had called and my daughter wasn’t very well. I don’t know what it was but I knew something bad was happening, I needed to get home quickly.
On arriving home I ran into my daughters bedroom and pulled back the covers, she was very quiet but said she was ok. I could see about 3 faint pink blots on her ankle no more than 2mm each. I yelled to my husband to ring the Dr’s, she needed someone to see her NOW. I could here him on the phone, everything seemed to be going in slow motion, I could hear him being polite “Yes she has an appointment at 4:15 but my wife would really like an appointment before then”.
I saw another pink blob appear on my little girls leg. I knew what I thought it was, I have training in early years health and this was no time for politeness, I stuck my head round the door and yelled, “She needs to see a f***ing Dr now”!
I don’t think my husband had ever heard me swear before then, and don’t think he has since. But it did the trick and the receptionist who had been fielding the need for seeing a Dr earlier than the afternoon appointment must have heard the panic in my voice and said she’d get a Dr. there straight away.
I count myself as quite a lucky person, not because I’ve ever won big (I haven’t), but when it really matters I seem to muddle through. On this day, luck was on my side, the Dr happened to be just round the corner in the village (the surgery was 7 miles away) and he was knocking on the door in under 10 minutes, not only that it was OUR Dr. It was rare then (as it is now) for you actually to get your appointment with your own Dr. He was also a Dr. I respected and liked.
The Dr. walked in to my little girls room and asked her how she was,
“I’m ok”, she said. I showed him the rash that was now spreading up from her ankle with blobs appearing before your eyes. He knew what I feared and said that he wasn’t entirely convinced but wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t the dreaded meningitis. So he gave her an antibiotic injection, explaining if it was septicaemia from meningitis it was like trying to stop a forrest fire and every minute counted, if it wasn’t the injection would do no harm. He then rang for the ambulance. He waited with us. After 45 minutes the ambulance still hadn’t arrived and he rang to chase it up.
On arriving at hospital, they took bloods, sent cultures off and gave her a lumbar puncture to check the spinal fluid. Those first 48 hours in the hospital felt like the longest hours of my life. By the time the ambulance had us at hospital the blobs were up to her chest. The first cultures they’d tested came back non conclusive as they’d try to grow them but due to the earlier antibiotic taking hold they’d died. Later tests (not sure if it was from the bloods or spinal fluids) confirmed meningitis C and septicaemia.
That night was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life, I was holding my little girls hand and she looked me in the eye and said “I love you Mummy”. At this point I broke down, I felt like she was saying goodbye. I left my husband with her for 10 minutes and went outside to grab a sandwich and some fresh air. Easter must have been early that year as a shop I passed had Easter eggs in the window. I went in and bought 3 of the biggest Easter eggs, there WAS going to be 3 girls at Easter. I went back to the hospital and slept in the chair by her bed. The rash appeared to have stopped spreading but the blobs there were, had started to turn purple and black. But she was going to be ok, I knew it and my panic subsided. She was in hospital 1 week and by the end of the week was getting told off by the nurses for tearing around. I’d never been happier, my lively, cheeky little girl was bouncing back.
In the week she’d been in hospital, some classmates at her school had been given antibiotics by their Dr’s (2 ended up with an overdose of antibiotics ?) as had our family. The next week she was back at school as her old self. I could feel other Mother’s staring as I dropped her off, I felt like a bit of a leper.
I tried a few times to talk to my Dr on the phone but again the receptionists were impossible to get past. So I made an appointment. I went in and apologised to my Dr. I said it was the only way I could get to see him to say thank you. He was wonderful, he put his feet up on the desk and we chatted. He told me he’d made an official complaint about how long the ambulance took, that he’d had a practice meeting to alert other Dr’s to how well she appeared for such a sick little girl and that as a GP they don’t see meningitis very often if ever, he’d never seen it before and they rarely get to feel they’ve played apart in saving a life. He retired early a couple of years later initially we were told due to hearing loss.
At first I got very paniky afterwards if I was in a place with lots of people, especially if condensation was running down the windows, I could just about see the germs and wanted to run out with my children to protect them. But I managed to relax over time and things returned to a more normal level. The ripples are still felt today though. My children all have their own children now and I think I make them panic more than I should, urging them to see a Dr. and return again and again if they re still worried about their babies.
I did’t see my Dr. again until about 10 years later, I was walking my dog along the canal and he walked past me. I smiled, he smiled, I was itching to have a chat and tell him how well the little girl he’d saved was doing but being quite a shy person I thought he’ll not remember me. So I just smiled. I told my husband when I got home how I’d wished I’d had the courage to speak to him. However, a week later I was saddened and shocked and very confused to hear that he’d passed away after suffering from motor neurone disease. I sobbed, I’d missed the funeral as well. I couldn’t work out how I’d seen him the week before?
Now I don’t believe in ghosts, but I know it was my Dr. I’d seen, which I worked out afterwards was about the day he died. I don’t believe in psychics really either but I know that Mothers can have a connection with their children so that from 6 miles away something let me know that my daughter needed my help. I can’t explain it, but it happened and I thank my lucky stars every day that this story had a happy ending.
The moral of this story? Never, ever ignore a Mothers instinct and sometimes things are just unexplainable.