A mum from Monmouthshire is trying to raise awareness for the symptoms of Meningitis, after her infant son was hospitalised for three weeks when he became poorly with the disease.

Little Theo didn’t want to feed, was unsettled and had a rapidly rising temperature. But when he vomited and it was bright orange, his mum Catherine, from Usk, knew something was very wrong. Theo had contracted bacterial meningitis. Catherine tells their story in her own words:

“At the start of the day that Theo turned three weeks old he seemed totally fine. But by mid-morning he was a bit off his feed and unsettled and started moaning in his sleep.

“He had a slight temperature, so I made an appointment at the doctors; the earliest I could get was that afternoon. I couldn’t relax though, he really wasn’t right, and in my gut I knew something was wrong but there were no strong symptoms of anything.

“Then he vomited and it was bright orange. I knew this was very wrong so we rang the doctors again and asked to be seen immediately. They were great and said we could go straight there.

“At the doctors he was really unsettled, completely refusing to feed which was so unlike him. His temperature was 38.2 – it had gone up very rapidly. The GP sent us to our local children’s ward. In the car he started to go very grey. In the 20 minutes it took for us to get to hospital he’d really gone downhill. His cry changed and he was arching his back.

“The moment a nurse saw him we were rushed to a treatment room. Quite quickly the consultant explained they would need to do a lumbar puncture. My husband’s cousin lost his baby to meningitis so we were very aware of it and they confirmed our worst fears, they suspected it too.

“Theo’s stomach had distended and he hadn’t filled his nappy all morning. They explained it was a paralysed bowel from the infection. Once they did the lumbar puncture they put him on four kinds of antibiotics.

“Then we waited. It was the worst few hours of our lives. No one can ever explain in words that kind of fear. Then he did a little poop. I’ve never been so happy to have to change a nappy! It meant one of the antibiotics was working, his bowel was working again.

“Tests confirmed he had E.coli sepsis, meningitis. He remained on IV antibiotics for three weeks, so we lived on the children’s ward. He improved almost as quickly as he’d become ill. However, getting the antibiotics into his little veins proved problematic and traumatic at times. He was discharged on the day he turned six weeks old.

“He’s had numerous tests but thankfully he seems to have made a complete recovery. We’re so grateful to all the medical staff who acted so quickly. Any longer without the antibiotics and it might have been a different story.

“Theo is now 17 months old and thriving. He’s a really happy little boy with endless energy and we are thankful for him every day. For a long time I was very neurotic when it came to Theo, constantly checking his temperature and I still get quite panicked if he becomes ill.”

Meningitis Now is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.

It does this by funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.

For more information about Meningitis and its symptoms, please visit the website www.meningitisnow.org.