Isabella’s Story

Towards of the end of the half-term holidays in October 2017, my daughter Isabella went from being a lively, bubbly nine-year-old to suddenly complaining of headache and flu-like systems (writes mum, Madalen).

Over the weekend, Isabella would only sleep and drink water and go to the bathroom when she needed. She did not have much of an appetite for eating anything – which was not like her at all.

On Monday, I called the GP and got Isabella an appointment that morning.

Isabella complained of having no energy to walk to the doctors so I got a taxi there and back.

This was odd as the surgery is only a five-minute walk from our house. Needless to say, I was very worried.

When I got to the see the doctors, they thought that Isabella had caught a bug that was going around. We were told to carry on with Calpol and Nurofen every four hours like I had been doing.

Isabella had a temperature and was a bit pink at the back of the throat. They said if there were no changes in a few days, I should bring her back to the surgery.

When we got home, she was very pale and very quiet which again was not like her at all. She managed to eat a little soup but not much. Not long after lunch, she sat glaring at the wall and was not responding to me when I was said her name.

This led me to call the ambulance service. The ambulance turned up quickly but it seemed like it took forever. I was so worried for Isabella.

When the paramedics turned up, they did a number of examinations, all of which had very little response from her.

Then as the paramedics starting putting Isabella in the ambulance she suddenly started fitting.

We were taken to our local hospital and they tried everything for Isabella before rushing her to another hospital that dealt with intensive care for children.

We finally got to the new hospital and Isabella was in a coma for 10 days. The medical team then did various tests on her – an MRI and lumbar puncture tests etc.

It took three or four days before they diagnosed Isabella with encephalitis. I had never even heard of this condition.

It was a very big shock to the system when they told us about the condition, but the doctors were great at explaining what it was etc.

When Isabella started to come round after about 10 days, she would sleep, wake for an hour and then fall back to sleep.

She was very drowsy and did not have a clue what was going around her most of the time.

Then Isabella started her rehabilitation such as physiotherapy, speech therapy and trying to get her to remember. She started to make progress bit by bit which was good.

Isabella would start to remember people she knew such as school friends, teachers and family she missed. Her concentration span is not brilliant at the moment but the doctors say that can be slowly worked on over time.

After spending nearly eight weeks in hospital, the doctors agreed a week before Christmas to let her come home.

That was the best Christmas present ever!

We have still got quite a few challenges ahead of us all. She has quite a few appointments and check-ups with doctors.

But Isabella started going back to school after the Christmas holidays for a couple of hours a day which is a start. She loves being back at school with her friends and back into a routine.

And she is being very chatty all the time. One thing I have to admire in Isabella is her determination to get better and stronger and pull through this. And we have been very grateful for all the support we have had from family and friends. It has made us stronger as a family for sure.

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Page Created: 11 December 2023
Last Modified: 11 December 2023
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