Meningitis Awareness & Symptoms.

I remember that I was seven years old and my little Sister, Aimee, had just turned five. We were walking home from school and I remember Aimee telling our Mum that her legs hurt and that she felt cold. I don't remember much else from that evening, apart from the fact that it quickly became clear that Aimee wasn't well. Everyone presumed that she just had a virus.

The next morning I was sent off to school whilst Aimee stayed at home with my Mum who was six months pregnant at the time. I remember we had a school trip that day, although I can't remember where too. Before we left on the coach I made Aimee a Get Well Soon card and left it in my tray ready to take home that evening.

Later that afternoon when my class returned to school, Mrs Cousins, the Head Mistress, took me to one side and told me that I would be going home with Taesha Davis and her Mum. I asked her why and she told me to just do as I was told and that I would see my Mum later. At seven years old I didn't really think about it or question it. Whilst we were walking home, my Mum's partner at the time drove past in the car and stopped to pick me up. Apparently now I wasn't going to Taesha's house, I was going home. I asked him where Mum was and he told me that he would explain everything when we got home. I can remember that he brought me a bar of dark chocolate. Now, I am a chocaholic but that was the first time I had ever tried dark chocolate. I didn't like it but I sensed that something was wrong so I ate it anyway.

When we got home, he told me that Aimee had been taken to hospital and that Mum was with her. He told me that she had Meningitis and was very very poorly. I had never heard of Meningitis before. He asked me to go and get Aimee's baby doll so I could give it to her at the hospital.

I don't remember the journey to the hospital. I do remember walking into Intensive Care in the Children Ward and seeing Aimee. She was lying on the bed surrounded by tubes and machines. I remember hearing the bleeping of the machines, the nurses bustling around, my Mum so scared but trying to be brave..

I later learned that whilst I was at school Mum had phoned the doctors to order some more Calpol for Aimee, still thinking that she just had a virus, but when Mum explained the symptoms over the phone to the doctor, she was told her to bring Aimee to the surgery straight away. By the time she got there an Ambulance was already waiting to take Aimee to the hospital. Because the doctor recognized the symptoms straight away and got Aimee to the hospital so quickly her life was saved.. Another hour later and Aimee wouldn't have been so lucky.  

I'm writing this today because a few weeks ago, one of James' little friends lost his life to the same disease that nearly cost my Sister her life all those years ago. Jayden's Mum is now trying to raise awareness of the symptoms so that hopefully lives can be saved.

I've put together the symptoms for Babies & Toddlers and also for Children & Teenagers. Although the symptoms are very similar for both there are a few differences.

Please please please make sure that you are familiar with the symptoms of this disease. Aimee was so lucky in that not only did she survive but she had no lasting health issues. So many people loose limbs, their hearing or their sight through this awful illness. Time is the key. The quicker the disease is recognized and treated the better the chances of survival are.

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