Frank Kane: I still have nightmares about my son's brush with this terrifying disease

Share
Related Topics

Even after 10 years,I still get the same feeling of dread when the meningitis season is near its peak, and the anniversary approaches of my infant son's suffering at the hands of this horrible disease.

I know many parents, relatives and friends will soon be about to suffer the anguish that my family and I went through in 1998, when my bouncing nine-month-old boy Patrick was struck down by a vicious form of meningococcal scepticaemia, the blood poisoning that is so often a deadly side effect of meningitis. I know that, in a matter of hours, another family's child will be at death's door, kept alive only by advanced medical skills – if they are fortunate enough, as I was, to get the child to a hospital equipped to fight the disease.

I know they will face days of agony and sadness, praying their child will survive; weeks and months of worry about the awful destruction meningitis can inflict on a young, vulnerable body; and years, even a lifetime, coming to terms with the consequences of the experience.

I still have nightmares about visiting the ward where Patrick was recovering from another bout of surgery to remove the blackened, hardened stumps that had so recently been perfect baby limbs. I can still hear his cries of agony as he went through withdrawal from morphine treatment, which had shielded him from what must have been unbearable pain. These images will never leave me, and have changed me – and all my family– profoundly and permanently.

News that scientists may have found a vaccine for the B strain of the disease fills me with relief and gratitude. I am happy that fewer parents will have to go through what we went through, and profoundly grateful to the scientists who worked so hard to find an antidote to the virus. At St Mary's Hospital in London, where my son's life was saved by the most dedicated professionals I have ever met, they will be entitled to celebrate this fantastic medical advance. It is a victory for good over evil.

But there are still other strains, and other transmutations of the viruses and bacteria that attack such defenceless victims. Other parents and relatives will still suffer. They can take hope, however, from the real lesson I have learnt about the trauma of meningitis: that there is life after the disease, and it is a more valuable and cherished life for having been through the experience and come out the other side.

Patrick is a normal, healthy, curious, intelligent 11-year-old, doing very well academically at a good school in London. He performs daily heroics coming to terms with the results of his illness, but does not let his prosthetic leg or awkward digits prevent him leading a full, happy and active life. There is always hope, even in the darkest hours.

Click here to have your say

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape