Amidst a joyous family vacation, Aimee Partridge noticed strange black and blue marks on her daughter’s legs. Assuming they were just bruises, she thought nothing of it. Little did she know, these marks were not what they seemed – they were actually a symptom of meningitis.
Brogan, only seven years old at the time, had been diagnosed with an eye infection and was given antibiotics twelve days prior to the appearance of the marks. But when Aimee took her to the GP, they were quickly rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The situation was dire – doctors had to amputate Brogan’s left foot in order to save her life.
“It didn’t look like a rash, it looked more like bruising. I never thought it could be meningitis, and that’s the problem,” Aimee explained. The marks didn’t resemble what she had seen in images of meningitis symptoms. The lack of awareness about these different presentations can create a dangerous gap in recognizing the signs of the disease.
Aimee shared her thoughts, saying, “Maybe Brogan contracted meningitis first, which led to the conjunctivitis infection. Meningitis weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to other diseases. But we can’t be sure.” It is crucial to be aware of the diverse symptoms of meningitis beyond the traditional rash that we are often told to look out for.
After being fitted with a prosthetic foot, Brogan and her family believed that the worst was behind them. However, the pain in Brogan’s remaining leg persisted due to the infection. As a result, they faced the heart-wrenching decision of whether or not to amputate that leg as well. The infection had caused the main blood vessel in her leg to die, leaving her in constant pain.
“We all, including Brogan, decided that this was the best decision going forward for her,” Aimee shared. “The remaining leg was at a 50/50 chance. She had a recurring infection in 2017, and it has now spread up to her knee. The leg is weak and could put her at risk later in life if we keep it. The main blood vessel in her leg has died, cutting off blood supply to her foot, and the tendon for the toes has died as well. The weaker her foot gets, the more susceptible it is to damage.”
Brogan, now nine years old, has faced these challenges head-on. Despite the immense difficulties of facing the loss of another leg, Aimee believes that children tend to adapt quickly. The alternative of keeping the remaining leg holds the risk of the disease worsening and spreading, leading to further complications later on.
“She understands the process, and while it’s not nice, children tend to adapt quickly to situations. That’s what Brogan is going to do,” Aimee stated. “Initially, she was upset, but now she is realistic and just wants to move forward. Losing her last bit of independence will be a significant change for Brogan. There are always risks, but this is the best solution for us according to the doctors. They can never guarantee that it won’t come back. We had always hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but seeing the impact on Brogan, we knew it was the best option.”
This heartbreaking story serves as a reminder to never ignore the warning signs of meningitis. The disease can manifest in various ways, and recognizing the symptoms early on is essential for timely intervention. Let us come together to raise awareness and protect our loved ones from this dangerous and potentially life-threatening illness.