Natasha, mum to Reuben, says,
“On Wednesday, 21 June 2023, when Reuben was three weeks old, he woke up as normal, had his bottle but suddenly started crying inconsolably – even if he was moved ever so slightly. My first initial thought was tummy pain, so I made a doctor’s appointment for that afternoon.
About ten minutes after making the appointment, I decided he couldn’t wait and needed to be seen now. So, I called the doctors to see if there were any morning appointments and was advised not, and if we couldn’t wait until the afternoon to call 111. I called 111, and they advised he needed to go to the hospital and they would send an ambulance, but it would take four hours. Something told me he couldn’t wait four hours, so we took him straight to A&E. He was seen within minutes and had a check-over by a nurse. He had a high heart rate of 170 bpm and a temperature of 36.6°C. He was then checked by a doctor who came to the diagnosis of colic and to continue with Infacol.
I asked why he seemed in this much pain to be told he would be fine in a few days; colic is painful and printed off a data sheet for colic. I then questioned pain relief and he advised Reuben couldn’t have Calpol because of his age. I kept questioning him, so he got a senior doctor in to check Reuben. The senior doctor also came to the same diagnosis of colic and that we could go home. I asked for Calpol, to which he agreed he could have.
A short time after this, Reuben’s skin became mottled, so I asked for someone to check him. Half an hour later, a nurse came in to do his observations again, however this time at rest his heart rate was 195bpm and his temperature 39.6°C. At this point, Reuben went quiet and floppy. Luckily, the nurse knew straight away this wasn’t normal, and Reuben had an IV cannula put in, antibiotics, IV fluids, Calpol, a chest x-ray, a feeding tube put in and bloods taken.
Reuben was admitted to hospital, and they attempted a lumbar puncture. He was also put on two types of antibiotics to get a head start on whatever was fighting his body.
The next day his heart rate kept dropping to around 85 bpm and oxygen to low 80s, so he was moved to the high-dependency unit and put on oxygen which helped. He started to improve, and he continued to improve as the days went on. Finally, after three days, we had the diagnosis – group B Strep sepsis. Meningitis couldn’t be confirmed as six lumbar punctures were attempted but failed. Reuben was put on a 14-day course of antibiotics to cover meningitis, just in case.
To say this was the scariest time of our lives is an understatement. We were absolutely broken as a family and didn’t know if Reuben would make it.
Reuben is now five months old and is a happy boy. We must still attend hospital appointments to make sure that, if it was meningitis, it hasn’t left any long-term side effects like hearing loss and seizures.
I found out about Group B Strep Support via an antenatal clinic poster and have been following on Facebook ever since. Unfortunately, I wasn’t swabbed for Strep B in pregnancy, nor had I ever heard of Strep B, and I want to shout from the rooftops, ‘please get swabbed’.”