It's that time of the year again - World Meningitis Day
Cameron 5 1/2 months
PMH ICU fighting for his life
The 2nd April 1996 was the day Cameron developed Pneumococcal Meningitis and all of our lives were changed forever. Cameron fought for his life for 10 days in ICU, then spent 3 months in hospital and even after we moved out of ICU the medical staff didn't expect Cameron to survive. This disease isn't a walk in the park, it's a serious fight for life.
Meningitis is confusing for everyone. There are many different strains and many different signs and symptoms along with different outcomes and after effects. Then there are the vaccinations which cover different strains of Meningitis. People unfortunately think that if they have one vaccination they are safe from Meningitis but the reality is, they have only protected themselves against one strain of Meningitis.
Cameron had Pneumococcal Meningitis but due to media coverage a lot of people are only aware of Meningococcal Meningitis. If diagnosed quickly people can recover from Meningitis but if not people can die within hours. However, having survived this deadly disease you are then faced with potential after effects.
Meningitis can be hard to diagnose. Cameron was misdiagnosed because his symptoms were similar to a crotchety teething baby and then appeared to be a bowel infection. Meningococcal Meningitis often has a rash that appears but not always and once a rash does appear, the race has started to save a life as the body starts to die.
Over the years I have heard many stories of misdiagnosis and of parents following their intuition and repeatedly visiting doctors surgeries and emergency departments until somebody saw what they saw, that their child or family member were dangerously ill. Sometimes by the time diagnosis happened it was too late.
I know this isn't an upbeat or happy blog post but Meningitis is not a happy or upbeat disease. It's grim, it's scary, it's terrifying and it's deadly. If you're lucky enough to survive then you most likely have life changing after effects. You could possibly have learning difficulties, deafness, epilepsy, loss of body parts, severe brain damage, amongst many others.
Cameron was one of the lucky ones, he survived, but the man he was destined to be disappeared that day. A normal childhood was taken away and any future love interests, marriage and children were wiped from history. Grandparents grieved, aunts, uncles, friends and acquaintances grieved but nobody more than us, his parents. Meningitis doesn't just affect the person lying in the bed, it affects everybody in their lives, and everybody grieves the future life lost.
There was no vaccine for Pnuemococcal Meningitis when Cameron was a baby, his fight with Meningitis was unavoidable. I wish history had been different and medical science had been more advanced.
If you only take one thing away from World Meningitis Day this year then please let it be this - don't let a family member die from Meningitis. This is a vaccine preventable disease - please vaccinate.
This World Meningitis Day please help to start the conversation, spread awareness of vaccination and just as importantly awareness of the signs and symptoms of Meningitis. Help us save lives.
To learn the Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis and about the Vaccines available please visit:
Meningitis Centre Australia - meningitis.com.au
CoMO - www.comomeningitis.org
To help spread awareness please join the Thunderclap