My name is Jules Somerville and I am the proud mother of 4 beautiful little girls, ranging in age from 12 - 2 years. My baby daughter who was 2 in July, Bobbee-Jules, was admitted to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Richmond, Virginia on the afternoon of Saturday November, 10th with Bacterial Meningitis (Meningococcal).
Bobbee-Jules had seen her Pediatrician on October 9th and was given a clean bill of health, a very healthy 2 Year Old. The symptoms leading up to the admittance were very confusing to us, I thought that she was coming down with a simple ear infection. The play of events went as follows:
Monday 5th Nov, pulled a couple of times on her ear and had a clear runny nose for an hour or so.
Tue 6th Nov, was a naughty little girl, I put it down to being 2.Wed 7th Nov, whilst sitting at the table she fell off the chair (I thought one of her sisters did it).
Thu 8th, again behaved quite badly, climbing on things that she doesn't normally, (as I know now she was trying to get my attention). Again at the dinner table fell of the chair. I thought her equilibrium was out due to maybe the ear infection I thought she had.
Fri 9th Nov, again climbing on everything. Put Bobbee-Jules down for her nap at her usual time of Noon. I had to wake her up at 1.30pm to collect her Daddy from Richmond Airport. I thought she was just sleeping some more in the van because I had woken her up, (of course now I know looking back that she was actually slipping away from us at that point). Got home and she sat with us at the table, was a little on the quiet side, for dinner and ate a whole bunch of French fries, got down from the table and walked across the room and fell. I said to her that she was going to the Pediatrician in the morning to get checked out. We put her to bed at 7.30pm, her usual bedtime. At 9.30pm her Daddy picked her up and brought her to me telling me that she had just been sick, (all the French fries, YUK!). Then for the next 2 and 1/2 hours she was sick every 30mins (that's when I said she was defiantly going to the Pediatrician to get checked out). She fell asleep at midnight for about 1/2 hour and then woke up again, we took her temperature and it was 103.5. We gave her some Tylenol, 5 minutes later she threw that up, we waited 10 minutes and gave her some more, again 5 minutes passed and she threw that up, then we thought Food Poisoning.
We gave her Tylenol again and she fell asleep around 1am. She didn't wake up again until 4am and was sick a couple of times then went back to sleep at 6am (or so we thought at that time).
I checked on both Bobbee-Jules and her Daddy as they were sound asleep in the Master Bed at 9.30am. I felt Bobbee-Jules and took her temperature and it was normal, so I assumed the Tylenol had worked and she was resting from being up all night.
Bobbee-Jules and her Daddy were still asleep when I took my other 3 girls out to lunch at 11.30am, again I felt her head and took her temperature, everything seemed normal.
Came home from having lunch and attending a harvest festival with my other girls and had not made it out of the van when Pete pounced on me and said "You need to come take a look at Bobbee-Jules she has spots all over her".
I went into the house and Bobbee-Jules was lying on the couch with her blanket over her, and she just looked extremely tired, and Pete said pull down the blanket. I pulled the blanket down and saw hundreds of what looked like tiny little pin prick red spots all over her torso and legs. I thought that she had an allergic reaction to something and turned to Pete and asked him what he had given her, and he said nothing as she didn't want anything.
I then turned back to Bobbee-Jules and the tiny little spots were becoming bigger and bigger and changing to purple. I said to Pete "This is not good, I'm calling the Pediatrician". I paged my pediatrician on call and waited for them to call back which was only 10 minutes, at that time Bobbee-Jules became more sleepy and the spots became more uglier. The pediatrician upon hearing about the purple spots said to us to immediately go to St Mary's Emergency Room. (Looking back if I could have changed one thing about the events it would have been to have called the ambulance).
We put Bobbee-Jules in the van and headed off at 1.30pm Sat 10th Nov. Whilst in the van I said to Pete "I think she has Bacterial Meningitis" The ironic thing is that the previous week I had a nightmare where one of my girls was very sick. Pete said to me "Don't be so silly that is not something Bobbee-Jules would get, she is too young!"
We reached the Emergency Room at 2pm and we had one person in front of us to be seen (Thank the Lord for that!). We were seen by the Triage Nurse at 2.10pm and from then the events went at lightening speed.
The Triage nurse lifted Bobbee-Jules' shirt and immediately called for an isolation room and she didn't care how she would get it. At this time Bobbee-Jules was limp in Pete's arms. We were ushered into this huge room where Pete put Bobbee-Jules on the bed, we thought she was sleeping, (we know now that she was unconcious!). There was at least 6 Emergency Room Staff, Gowned, Masked and Gloved all around her putting things in and taking blood, urine etc out. A sign was slapped to the door saying no admittance unless you were Gowned, Masked and Gloved.
2 Doctors arrived within 3 or 4 minutes yelling directions to staff. Pete and I were pushed to the back of the room and had just a little view of our baby over the shoulders of the nurses, wandering what on earth was happening. They didn't tell us what she had because it needed to be confirmed, but the way they were talking to each other they knew!
At one point I remember the Triage Nurse asking us "How are you doing Mom and Dad". I know I just nodded not really comprehending what was going on. I looked across to Pete and he had a stunned/disbelief look on his face.
We were rushed up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with 30 minutess of arriving at the hospital. Upon entering the level where the Intensive Care Unit ward was we were asked if we wouldn't mind waiting in the waiting room whilst they surgically stitched an arterial and vein IV. This is where I collapsed with disbelief of what I had just witnessed.
The Triage Nurse was very very sweet and said that she would send someone up to be with us. The person who came up in the elevator was not the person we were expecting to see, we thought they were sending up a social counselor, it was in fact the Chaplain. He escorted us to the isolation room of the PICU and basically told us, "She is in the best place possible, we are doing everything we can to help her" Those words haunted me for the next 3 days as Bobbee-Jules was lying almost all the time unresponsive to our voices.
Bobbee-Jules was connected to so many tubes in her groin, arms and foot. She was having IV antibiotics, Dopamime to control her blood pressure, Potassium Chloride for hydration, Tyleno for her fever and many other. She had Chest Xrays and blood taken on a regular basis. Her head was monitored for any swelling.
The truly heart wrenching part for me was the fact that I was unable to hold her for the first 48 hours due to the amount of tubes but mainly due to the severe bruising on her legs which was caused by the blood vessels exploding under her skin (that is what gave the spots the purplish color).
We asked the staff why they were not giving her a Spinal Tap which as you know is the best way to detect Meningococcal (Bacterial Meningitis). They replied that it was not necessary as they knew 100% that she had it and that a blood culture would confirm in 48 hours. So they decided that the Spinal Tap was not necessary. The same treatment would be given if the culture was negative or viral meningitis.
The culture took a long time to grow and had the doctors worried that it might not of been Meningococcal and to worry about what they might have been dealing with. Luckily about 42 hours into the 48 hour culture it was appearing as a very weak positive.
As soon as the the culture was confirmed then the Health Department and the Center for Disease Control were contacted. We had many discussions with the Health Department about the whereabouts of Bobbee-Jules on certain days and who she came in close contact with. Eventually, everyone was treated with a preventative Antibiotic.
We have been home now for a month. Bobbee-Jules is fully 100% healed inside her body with no lasting damage, but we still go for check-ups regularly, just to be on the safe side. Her outside has a little more recovery to do. She is attending Physical Therapy now twice a month (it was once a week) to work on her being able to walk again without a very obvious limp and to turn her left leg back as her foot points to the outside. They have given her special pedal extensions for her bike, which she is excited about, to help her build her leg muscles.
Her wounds are slowly healing, we have seen the Plastic Surgery team and they say that she needs another 6 - 8 weeks and then he will re-evaluate. We go back on January 24th.