Cameron, Western Australia
Cameron was 5 ½ months old when he developed pneumococcal meningitis in a remote country town in Western Australia. After being unwell for several days with a fever, general lethargy, a disinterest in feeding, diarrhea, vomiting, a distinctive cry and arching of his back, Cameron lapsed into a coma and seizure. Cameron was initially misdiagnosed with a bowel infection but after visiting 1 doctor’s surgery, 3 hospitals, 4 ambulances, 2 Royal Flying Doctor flights and 3 emergency rooms, he was admitted to an ICU and diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis.
Cameron survived, but with life changing after effects. He sustained severe brain damage, significant loss of muscle strength, total deafness in one ear, dyspraxia, a wandering eye and life threatening epilepsy. Cameron’s abilities were less than a new born; he even had to learn to suck again.
The 22 years since Cameron’s miraculous survival has not been drama free. We initially spent 3 months in hospital, and then had to return endless times over the years to save Cameron’s life. We spent 6 days a week in therapy until school started, and then we fitted therapies in around school in an effort to strengthen his muscles and awaken his brain. Our efforts were continually hampered by seizures, which damaged his brain even more and made him reliant on powerful medications to stay alive. We discovered the power of swimming through Hydrotherapy and Equine therapy through the Riding for the Disabled Association. This strengthened his muscles and allowed Cameron to walk at three years of age.
We accessed every therapy we could find, mainstream and alternative, to awaken Cameron’s brain, but it was as if he was locked inside and we could not find the key to let him free. However, during his teen years we discovered neuroscience, and Cameron now lives in the moment without the painful delays that once accompanied everything he did. His brain is slowly awakening, but most significantly, he is now seizure and medication free and we no longer fear for his life.
These days Cameron is a grown man who is non-verbal, not toilet trained and needs continual supervision to keep him safe. He is similar to a toddler, although he is 22 years old. He loves life and spreads love with everyone he meets, but he will never live an independent life, work a paid job, marry or have children. Pneumococcal meningitis stole those privileges from him.
Cameron a few days before he fell ill, and in the ICU after being diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis
It is nobody’s fault that Cameron developed pneumococcal meningitis. My only sadness is that there was no vaccine available when Cameron was a baby and very little awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, so as a new mother I was not aware. Consequently, Cameron’s life was changed forever along with all of his family’s lives.
Please vaccinate and know the signs and symptoms of meningitis - do not let a preventable tragedy happen to any of your family members.
 As of July 1st 2018 in Australia, babies at 2 and 4 months of age will be vaccinated against pneumococcal meningitis and will then receive another dose in their second year of life.
To read another personal meningitis story from around the world, click here.