Charysma's Story

This meningitis story is about my daughter who survived bacterial meningitis from listeria at the age of 2 weeks.

When my daughter was about 2 weeks old she woke in the middle of the night screaming. Most parents don't think anything special of that, but I knew it was different. She had been the happiest, most content baby I'd ever seen. All she did was eat and sleep. So that night when she woke up screaming I knew something was wrong. When I picked her up she was boiling hot, I immediately took off her pj's, gave her a luke-warm bath and tried feeding her. She screamed all night, I bathed her every hour.

In the morning I called my doctor's office and told them what was going on, so they booked me for later on in the day. When I went to my appointment I was told to not worry and don't be afraid to keep her wrapped up ( I had her in the lightest t-shirt I could find). So we went home, with her still screaming. She was hoarse by this time, and it was breaking my heart, but my doctor told me she was ok, so I thought I was being paranoid. Things didn't get any better, she screamed and cried all night. Through hourly luke-warm baths all through the night she cried, by this time I was crying with her I was so scared. But being afraid that the hospital would get that look in their eyes saying "paranoid mom" I waited. I wish I hadn't. Finally the next morning I said enough, my daughter is in pain and something is wrong and I'm not leaving the hospital until I find out what. So off I went, my husband and 3 year old daughter went to his parents place until we called. The emergency staff took 2 seconds to look at her and they sprang into action. Immediately they called more nurses, and more doctors to come help. They stripped off her thin nightshirt and tried to get an IV going. I was sitting on a chair holding her and 4 nurses were around me watching another try and get the IV in. She couldn't. Next the doc tried to do a lumbar puncture, I could tell her really cared. He asked if I was sure I wanted to be there-I definitely did-there was no way I was leaving my daughter.

After 15 minutes he left the room with tears in his eyes saying he couldn't get it. The next doc came in and got it going. By this time I had tried reaching my husband, but couldn't finally got my mom to go get him and tell him what was going on. Once they had the IV going and meds going we were then rushed to the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg. They let me go with them in the ambulance and my husband was going to follow. Once at the Children's Hospital we were then rushed into a room and more questions, blood was taken and we were taken to a quarantine room on the 3rd floor. Nurses came and asked yet more questions and answered ours, as best they could without having any answers about what was actually wrong. But one thing that does stick out in my mind is that a nurse told me that my daughter "didn't look like a meningitis baby". At that point I had no idea meningitis was being considered. The hospital staff were wonderful, answering my questions time and time again.

By that point I had been up with her for 2 days straight. As the night passed and I stayed up with her I grew calm, I just knew that they were going to make her better and it was going to be ok. I've never been able to explain why I felt that way, just the Grace of God I guess. As test results from her lumbar puncture came back and it was proven she had bacterial meningitis from listeria they brought me brochures and talked endlessly with me educating me on what exactly was going on, how she got it (we figured out that she received it from me thru the birthing process. I had had a hot dog about a week before she was born, I'd never heard of avoiding hot dogs when pregnant.) and how they were going to treat it. Since it had been so long since they'd have a case of that particular strain of meningitis they did tons of research finding out exactly how long she was to be treated, which meds ect. Charysma went thru so many tests, blood test almost hourly, x-rays testing her kidneys, and countless others. She was such an amazing baby, everyone commented on her sunny disposition. She came to the point of not even crying when she got a needle. About a week into our "stay" she received a pic line. A pic line is an IV going further and closer to her heart so that her veins would not harden and the meds would be distributed faster. The docs where amazing and let me stay with her to keep her calm, unlike a lot of doctors they realized that if I was near she tended to stay a lot calmer. Staying at the hospital by myself, not seeing my other daughter for days on end was incredibly hard. But through so many peoples' prayers, the doctors' understanding and considerate manner, lots of phone calls we made it through.

My husband had to return to work within a week of us being there. Watching my daughter go through these tests, is something I wouldn't want to wish on my worse enemy. I cried daily I was so scared sometimes, then I'd hold Charysma and eventually I'd feel calm again. So many people would stop us on our walk around the hospital, we stood out with the IV pole following us everywhere. But so many people have no idea what she had, the most common comment to me was "Oh, that's like a really bad cold right?." I couldn't believe it, here my daughter had been fighting for her life, and people told me she had a cold. After 3 weeks my doctor did another lumbar puncture and after finding out that the bacteria was gone, we were able to go home. It still feels like it was just yesterday that we were there, scared our daughter wasn't going to make it. After coming home and reading up more on the subject I am all that more thankful. What really bothers me is that absolutely every pregnant woman I speak to about this has no idea that there are foods they have to avoid. Even some nurses I speak to have no idea. Why is this not broadcast? We are told not to drink, why not what not to eat? I know I have the incredibly hard working nurses and doctors at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital to thank for my daughter's life. In particular Dr. J. Strong, he came in every day asked if I had any more questions, and sat and talked to me for awhile, to make sure I was ok. He walked in on me crying, sleeping and he was a true angel to me and my daughter. The nurses all said bye to us, and wished us well-one even wrote me a note, because she missed us on her way off shift. They truly cared about my daughter, she became important to them. Which meant so much to me. Today my daughter is 21 months and healthy. She has gone for developmental testing twice and they've given her the all clear. Her next audio appointment is next week and we will find out if her hearing has been affected. Otherwise she is an energetic, trouble-making beautiful miracle.

Thanks for reading my daughter's story and please tell people to watch what they eat when pregnant.



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