A very Black Friday

I will never forget the day I was admitted to the hospital with Bacterial meningitis on Friday 13th September 2013.

I was in my 32nd week of pregnancy with my first baby. The Tuesday beforehand I remember feeling unwell, I just put it down to my sinus playing up and being pregnant. I have suffered from Rhinitis since a child and usually get the nose spray from the chemist no big deal. I went to work on Tuesday still not feeling the best, I kept telling myself I need to go to the chemist to get the nose spray and I'll be fine as it was my baby shower on Saturday the 14th.

I went to work on the Thursday and boy did I have an ear ache in my right ear. I work in an Audiology clinic and asked the Audiologist if she could look in my ear. She did tympanometry (the use of a machine to blow air into the ear to check the vibration of the ear drum) she stated that I had fluid behind my ear drum and that I should go to my GP. I put it off thinking I would go the following week as I had to drive to my parents the next day being Friday the 13th. That night my ear was still aching and my sinuses getting worse.

I woke up Friday morning with what I thought was a head cold, drove to my parents, went shopping with my mum and then dinner that night. I went to bed around 9pm with a slight headache. I woke at midnight and could not stop shaking and my heart was racing. I woke my mum and decided I should call the birthing unit at the hospital I was booked into. They advised me to call the local hospital near my parent’s house. I explained to them that I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and was currently medicated for that, they advised me to come in straight away. As soon as I got in the car the vomiting started. Somehow I managed to walk from the car park to the birthing unit of the hospital.

All I remember is a screaming headache and the feeling of wanting to pull my face off it hurt that bad. They put me on a bed and began monitoring my baby. I was given a shot of morphine. All I remember is waking up in the intensive care unit 2 days later. I was very lucky that a Doctor in the birthing unit picked up on my symptoms and did a lumbar puncture to test the fluid and started treating me with medicine straight away. I didn't eat for 9 days and lost a bit over 10 kg. They monitored my baby via ultrasound and CTG machine listening to the heart beat every day as it had stopped growing and I had lost a fair bit of amniotic fluid. They were concerned and wanted to deliver me early at 32 weeks. No one really knew what to do with me being pregnant as none of the medical staff had come across anyone having bacterial meningitis and being pregnant.

My baby girl Sophia was delivered at 37 weeks and I had a caesarean under anaesthetic. She was tiny, only 5lbs 5 oz and 47 cms long.

My hearing was partially impaired and I was fitted with grommets for three months, but luckily for me my hearing is back to a level that is reasonable.

Thanks to all the doctors and nurses who nursed Sophie and me. She is now 2 years old and thriving!

If you have been moved by Lauren and Sophia's story, you can help make a difference by donating to Meningitis Centre Australia, to make people more aware of this disease. Go to Meningitis Centre Australia