Derek and Steven Oliver

I'm not to sure where to begin how to tell you of how both my children were diagnosed with a two different strains of meningitis. Yes, I did say both!!!!! I'll start with my oldest, Derek, who was only 6 months old when it struck our family.

It was June 1 1990, the day he was exactly 6 months old. I was a stay at home mom who rarely wanted to leave her new baby with anyone, but this day my mom convinced me to take a break and enjoy a night out with my husband. I did but reluctantly, left him with my mom. I should tell you he had cold like symptoms when we brought him to my parent's house. My mom, being a nurse, told me she would keep a very close eye on him and call us should anything change.

Sure enough about a half an hour after leaving home I had no other choice but to check on him. My mom does not panic about anything, but I could hear the urgency in her voice. We raced home only to grab the baby and race to the Janeway Children's Hospital. Mom, I believe, called ahead to tell them we were on our way, because we were not even in the doors when they snatched him from my arms and raced away with him.  I tried to follow but they stopped me and I had to wait until they came to get me. This was a long wait. When the staff finally returned, I was taken to ICU, where I found my little angel hooked up to everything you could imagine. This is where I was told he had meningitis. How lucky we were to get him there right away, but his kidneys were starting to shut down. After some dialysis and lots of treatment, we took our little boy home after only two weeks in the hospital. I believed at this point we were now past the horrible disease and now we could live and be happy with our second chance miracle baby.

NOT

On May 11, 1992 my second born son, Steven was having a wonderful 1st birthday. He seemed a little off, but I just brushed it off as a cold, seeing as I had one at the time. I noticed he was not himself the following day, being as aware as i was of what meningitis was, I rushed him to outpatients. I was sent back home with him as I was told he had gastroenteritis. The following day I returned because he wasn't eating, vomiting, and diarrhoea and didn't drink anything for two days at this point.

Again I was sent home, only to return for the third time in three days. Finally I ended up going to my family doctor, where when she took one look at him, she called the hospital and informed them a very sick 1 year old was on his way in. Once we got there, again, we met with some resistance.  I begged the doctors to do some tests, as he was slowly fading away. They did and I soon found out that he had e-coli meningitis. "WHAT", I screamed. I only knew about meningococcal. How could this happen, AGAIN!!!

Derek's meningitis was a horror story, but to do this again, only this time not knowing anything about this stain of meningitis.  We came to find out Steven had a mild form of Spina Bifida, the e-coli entered his body through the hole, we didn't know about, (microscopic) in the base of his spine. Through much surgery and almost a full year in hospital, Steven now only has a shunt in his head, a weak back (due to two operations), some bowl and learning problems.

I have not only been given a second chance with Derek but now Steven too. There is a lot more I could tell you, but the importance of vaccination and knowing your own children's behaviour, is key to saving these precious gifts from certain pain or death.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for my 17, and 15 year old miracles.

Judy Oliver

 

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