A Young Doctor’s suspicion

We were living in South Australia and it was November 1980 when my daughter contracted viral meningitis. My daughter Kylie was 4 months old and had a temperature and was restless and crying. I tried to get her temperature down with the usual methods and nothing worked. I rang the hospital and they told me to give her a tepid bath which I did and still no change.

When I tried to pick her up she screamed if I moved her head or neck, this got me worried so I took her to the hospital. The staff tried the same things I had, to get her temperature down to no avail. There was a young intern on duty that came and asked me if he could do a lumber puncture. When I asked why, he said he wanted to rule out meningitis which I knew nothing about, but was happy for anything that would help. Kylie screamed while they did it and then they wanted to put an intravenous drip in to give her antibiotics in case it was bacterial meningitis.

All the doctors had trouble getting a vein, they shaved her head, tried everywhere and eventually got one in her foot. I had to stand outside the room while they did this and all I could hear were her screams. They admitted Kylie to the hospital and then the nightmare got even worse.

At 11pm that night feeling quite exhausted, I had people asking me all sorts of questions about what our house was like. Did we have a pool or have dirty water lying about? Was our house clean etc ? All I was concerned about was my baby girl. I realised they were only doing their job but it was hard at the time.

We were told it would take about 4 days to know if it was bacterial meningitis while they grew cultures. After being told what could happen to Kylie if it was bacterial was just awful. We felt so lucky when told it wasn't.

I was just so thankful to that young intern and when I asked him why he thought it was meningitis he told me" it was just a feeling he had". I am so grateful to him even though I can't remember his name.

Kylie is now 33 with 3 beautiful children of her own but I have never forgotten about her meningitis.