We come in to A&E in an ambulance. Tom has been having 'vacant episodes' on the back of two days of drowsiness and is clearly in pain. He drifts in and out of what we thought of as sleep only to shriek awake. A&E take things very seriously and the series of events leaves us little time to think. Shock carries us along as the words 'fit' and 'meningitis' are uttered around us with increasing frequency.
Antibiotics and antiviral drugs are hastily pumped into Tom. An anaesthetist comes down and explains the process of intubation that's going to be carried out to enable a CT scan and lumbar puncture... all these grown up, late night TV procedures being performed on his fragile little body. Terror is the only word I can think of to describe my feelings. Tears come readily as I begin the process of ruining the quiet Saturday afternoons of our families and close friends.
In southwest Scotland my mother-in-law jumps into her car and begins the five hour journey south. My parents race over from their home nearby and, with many more tears and as recipients of many soothing words, we find ourselves next to our angelic sleeping boy with a tube up his nostril, the large tube in his mouth providing support for his breathing, canulars in three out of four limbs, a glowing digit monitoring 'pulse ox' and a trio of ECG contacts on his fragile barrel of a chest.
High on morphine and sedative, he could be sleeping for anything up to 24 hours we are told. Sleeping in his archway of lights and electronics, a nurse at the end of his bed continuously watching, monitoring and recording. Doctors visit frequently. We try to take things in. Good, pleasant words float around. CT scan normal... he'll wake up soon. We hear the word 'Pneumococcus' for the first time - it isn't the worst but it isn't good...
We are found a couple of beds in an unused bay on the children's oncology ward and try to get some sleep. I find time to feel sympathy for the poor kids nearby. My eyes leak but Nik and I find resolve for each other.