She went to sleep, she appeared to be in pain she kept holding her head, even in sleep. The nurse said the Doctor was coming to sedate her . The Doctor said the lining of her brain was inflamed and was causing severe pain and the only thing they could do to alleviate the pain was to sedate her. He said I should go home as she wouldn’t be allowed to wake up until the morning when hopefully the pain will have eased.
The next morning Mike went with me to see Sheila he could stay for a while but then had to go to work. This morning she was awake and seemed in less pain but she was still not acknowledging us. I went and found a doctor and he said she was now out of danger it was just a matter of having patience and to let things take there course, he said it would perhaps take a year for her to be her normal self. Her brain and nervous system had taken such a pounding that only time would tell us if there would be any permanent damage but he was pretty sure as he could be that she would eventually be fine.
She woke up and said ,"hello Mummy why did you put me here". I tried to explain she had been really ill but she began to get upset and said again I shouldn’t have left her. I began to realise that she had no idea how ill she was and had no memory of the ambulance all she knew was that she was on her own and we had all deserted her. She would not let us comfort her or explain she just said she wanted us to go as her head was hurting. I couldn’t stop the tears I loved her so much. If I had been able I would have stayed with her day and night but in those days it was not allowed.
The Doctor said to not take it to heart as she was really confused and she was only 4 yrs old and her power of reasoning was not properly developed yet. He said give her another few days and things would be very different. As soon as she was allowed out of her cot then she would go into the main childrens ward and have contact with other kids. He said it would be better if we left her as she was still getting agitated. I couldn’t believe it, I was so upset my little girl didn’t want me with her. Then I realised, what was the matter with me I had been through this before when my Dad had his brain tumour removed he didn’t act rational. I mentioned this to the doctor and he said it would be the same, any injury to the brain either by surgery, accident or disease would bring out this irrational behaviour but would in Sheila’s case be short –lived. I went to say goodbye and give her a kiss but she was having none of it and told us to go. It really was heartbreaking in spite of knowing it was the meningitis that had caused this. It was really hard. She had had so many health problems in her short life.
Mike was devastated I hadn’t seen him hurt like this before, he actually showed his feelings and I could see tears in his eyes but he wouldn’t talk about it.
I would talk to Linda and the kids later ,I needed a hug from them. I needed reassurance from them, as I felt so rejected by Sheila even knowing the situation it hurt so much.
I was actually dreading going to the hospital the next morning as I had no idea what reaction I would get from Sheila. As I went into her room she sat up and shouted Mummy, Mummy give me a hug. I couldn’t believe my ears a totally different child to yesterday. I held her so tight she said I was squeezing her to bits.
The nurse came in and said Sheila was doing really well, she said the change came about at about 6.00am that morning she opened her eyes and was smiling at everybody. She said she still must not get out of bed , she still needed complete bed rest. The Doctor was going to do some tests on her the next day and depending on the outcome she could then go to the main childrens ward. I was so thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell Lesley and Stephen. Stephen had really been missing Sheila he wasn’t his usual happy self, he spent a lot of time just sat in the chair staring into space. No amount of coaxing helped. It was also the disruption at home. I left home every morning at about 9.30am and didn’t get home until around 3.00pm
Next week was going to be difficult as Linda was back at work I was hoping my friend Maureen would help but I would have to not stay as long at the hospital. Kim , Lesley’s friend said her mum would look after Steve and Lesley any time I was stuck for a babysitter she would be only too happy to help. So maybe things wouldn’t be to bad.
In normal circumstances my brother Dennis would have been over like a shot but according to my Mum he was in a really bad state with the drugs, he was now on heroin and nothing mattered to him but scoring his drug. My Mum and Dad I think were in a living hell with him, he was stealing, doing burglaries all sorts.
If this hadn’t of been happening my Mum and Dad would have come to stay and look after the children but they were too scared as Dennis would steal anything that wasn’t nailed down. The TV and even some of my Mums clothes had gone. Dennis denied all knowledge but a neighbour had seen him carrying it out of the house.
Mike had withdrawn his notice at Texaco and he had at last made arrangements with the Housing Office to pay extra each week off the arrears and also the other creditors . I don’t know what explanation he gave as to why he had ignored the letters but he seemed to have swung it his way. We were even more hard up now paying all the extra , it was costing me a small fortune travelling to Watford every day.
Sheila had had all the tests and was now going into the big ward she was so excited. She wanted to go straight away but was told it would be the next day before a bed became available. She was so much better but still asked why we left her there she could not understand as she said she couldn’t remember anything after her check up at the hospital. You could only imagine what was going through her mind having no clue where she was or who the people around her were. It was getting to be a nightmare trying to leave the hospital she hung on to me and threatened to get out of bed if I went. On more than one occasion I had to call a nurse to restrain her so I could leave. Because Lesley and Stephen were being looked after by neighbours I had to pick them up at a certain time. I had no choice but to leave Sheila screaming. It was awful.
She had now been in hospital for 2 weeks and I had been every single day. It was very tiring mentally and physically but I couldn’t let her think she had been abandoned again.
The next morning I went as usual to Sheila’s room but it was empty that must mean she was in the childrens ward at last. I went and found a nurse and she said she had been looking out for me but must have missed me. She said Sheila was fine and loved it in the big ward, she also said that visiting was restricted now she was on the mend and that it was upsetting to other children whose parents couldn’t come in the daytime. So after today visiting would only be from 2.00pm to 4.00pm this was going to give me a headache as I really had to be home for Lesley coming out of school. I coudnt expect neighbours to go and meet her. So I would have to leave at 3.00pm at the latest I just hoped with Sheila having other children around she wouldn’t mind too much.
She was just about back to normal now, being with the other children really helped and I managed to get away to be home for Lesley.
I didn’t know quite what I was going to do for the next 2 weeks as Lesley was on holiday from school. I mentioned to the nurse and said I may not be able to find anyone to look after my other children due to the holidays and she said I could bring them with me and they could play in the visitors room but wouldn’t be able to visit Sheila.
When I got home I told Lesley and Stephen that they could come with me but must stay in a visitors room. This visibly cheered Stephen up even though he wouldn’t see Sheila I think he thought he would be near her. The next morning we all set off on our adventure it felt like that, everyone was in high spirits. I put them in the vistors room with some books and toys and they promised to be good as I knew they would. These children had been amazing for the last 3 weeks they had taken everything in there stride. They were literally sent to stay with just about all the neighbours.
The Doctor came to see me and said they were so pleased with Sheila’s improvement that they thought she was ready to go home. He said we would have to expect a few changes as she was very highly strung at the moment and would on some occasions be a lot to handle. I said I could cope and would hope she may improve being at home. He said it could go either way. He also said she still had medication to take for a further week and to handle her legs with care as because she had had so many injections at one point the veins couldn’t be used so they had to what you call skin pop the injections into the skin down the front of her legs. This had left a series of lumps which needed to be massaged very gently as they were very painful.
When the Doctor told Sheila she could go home tomorrow she was cavorting around the ward like a mad thing she was so pleased. She said I can see Lesley and Stephen again and sleep in my bed. It was time for me to go and I said I would be there nice and early tomorrow and bring her clothes. When I told the kids they were thrilled to be going to see her again. 31/2 weeks was a long time to a child. I told them she might be a little terror because of her illness but that we would have to try and be patient with her and Stephen said what about Dad. Out of the mouths of babes. I said I would explain to him also. The house was electric with excitement, for me it was having all my kids together and not to have to do that journey every day. Not to have to arrange for someone to look after Lesley and Stephen.