Risks to young children seem endless. We were blessed to live a mere five minutes from a hospital. This was fortunate, as we were up there with my son most years. There is one photo in particular that reminds me how fortunate we were. He is playing with his bright yellow Scoop (A character from Bob the Builder). Our son is wearing a bright red, tropical style shirt. It looks innocent enough. However whenever I see it, I remember the time we nearly lost our son.
Scoop was a present his Dad had bought for him, while the two of us were in hospital together. The hospital was wonderful. I had been able to stay there for the whole five days he was in hospital.
It had been a strange day. Everything had been normal in the morning. He had gone out for a walk with his father. When they had returned, they had mentioned they had seen a snake. Despite what those of us from overseas believe, this happens pretty rarely. (for me, twice in twenty years.)
Later that day he had started to get sick. He was asthmatic, so I was used to him getting sick but this was different…
I could tell.
I had been so concerned, I had slept with him in his room. In the middle of the night, he had projectile vomitted twice across the room. I had rung the hospital for advice. First thing the following morning we were down at the hospital, waiting in casualty, when he had thrown a fit. I was used to this, as he had experienced febrile convulsions(They grow out of these fortunately.) since he was a few weeks old. The doctors had carried him off immediately and admitted him. I thank God for those convulsions. They may have saved his life. From that point on there were some very worried-looking doctors tending to him.
They had suspected meningitis. Everything becomes a bit hazy now. I remember my then husband and I crying. They had given our son, not one but two lumbar punctures. He had needed to be knocked out, as he couldn’t be kept still.
Fortunately for us, it had turned out to be pneumonia. Terrible enough I know but I have personal experience of the horrors of meningitis. A child in the first school where I taught, had died within twenty four hours.
I had quizzed the doctor about the sudden onset of the pneumonia, when we had gone for an outpatient visit. I was concerned I must have missed something. I had had no idea that children could come down with pneumonia so rapidly. I had thought pneumonia started with cold-like symptoms. He had seemed fine that morning.
After a short stay in hospital our son was fine, despite hobbling from two lumbar punctures. We were just glad he was alive.
The family in the Australian Story I watched today, was not so fortunate. Their child turned out to have something called —Naegleria fowleri — Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) — Amebic Encephalitis. The amoeba which causes this is relatively common. Fortunately the disease is not. Nonetheless it is important to be aware that the amoeba is dangerous if it gets up your nose at high pressure, as it can enter the brain. This condition has a very high mortality rate. Australian children(my own included) play with water all the time in the heat of Summer. Unfortunately, as in this story, there can sometimes be deadly consequences.