Last week the pediatrician from the hospital came to visit us armed with William’s post-mortem report. Although we were given preliminary results 9 days after William died, these were not conclusive and subject to change. ‘Unusual, if not lucky’ they told us, apparently it’s unheard of to have any indication that early when someone dies unexpectedly. Lucky is not the word I would have used, I did not feel lucky at the time and I do not feel lucky now. Looking back I suppose relieved would have been a more appropriate word. I knew William had been poorly, but I was dreading them finding nothing wrong, life was already unbearable, but the thought of my little boy going to sleep and just not waking up was something I knew I just wouldn’t accept. However, after the doctors telling me that he was ‘ok’ and had nothing ‘grisly’ it was a concept that I had to prepare myself for.
In those 9 days every second was spent relentlessly questioning why? why had William died? The doctor on the Friday had told us it was probably just a reaction to the booster. On Saturday the 111 call handler deemed his condition as a non-emergency. Later that night the Serco doctor explained it was likely a virus, he will likely get better without treatment. So with William asleep in bed, we felt rest assured we were doing the right thing, we’d been told lots of times it was nothing serious and he’d be back to his normal self in 48 hours. I expected a very unsettled night but William slept through Saturday night with no fuss, wriggling around his cot to find the most peculiar position to sleep in as normal. When I checked on him he was sleeping soundly, snoring faintly and clutching his reindeer teddy, nothing out of the ordinary. At 5:10am when we checked on him he had settled himself back to sleep after having a drink, nothing unusual. 36 hours was Sunday morning. I never expected that when I went to check on him that he would be gone. My beautiful little boy, gone. How could this happen? What happened? Why had William died? Those agonising 9 days were a constant battle in my head, with every question that I asked myself I came to a different conclusion. Meticulously going over every last detail, not just over those 36 hours but during his whole life, all 382 days of it. Had I missed something?
The reality was I hadn’t missed anything, I had never missed an appointment to get William weighed, his injections were always on time, I even have a diary with the amount of milk William drank and the time of day he drank it from his birth until he was eating normal food. From the time when William had begun to be poorly at the end of September until his untimely passing I had visited the doctor on 6 different occasions, this was in addition to the telephone appointments. So no, I couldn’t have missed anything, could I? No, the truth of it is I didn’t, when William was poorly I took him to the doctor, when he didn’t get better, I persisted and took him again and again, sometimes seeing a different doctor. ‘It’s just a cough’, ‘his chest is clear’, ‘his ears are fine’. Just give him Calpol and Nurofen.
How wrong can anyone be? Well on Thursday we found out.
When I cradled William in my arms on the morning he was taken away to Birmingham for the post-mortem I whispered in his ear that he had a job to do, ‘you hold all the answers sweetheart, only you know what’s happened, please tell the doctors what happened, mummy needs to know. Mummy’s asked to come with you, but she’s not allowed. Please don’t be frightened, be a brave boy, mummy is so proud of you, and she is always with you and she loves you so much, mummy knows you can do it.’ My little boy did exactly that.
On that last trip to the doctors William had septicemia caused by Inasive Streptoccocal A bacteria. He had an empyema which is pus in the pleural cavity, the space outside of the lung, 200mls of toxic pus to be precise. He had an abscess in his left lung and a heavy ear infection with fluid in both ears. These were directly caused by a chest infection which developed into pneumonia. William’s chest was obviously not clear, William’s ears were clearly not ‘ok’, his cough was clearly not ‘just a cough’, and he did have something grisly, Septicemia, something about as profoundly grisly as you can get.
I can’t begin to explain the feeling, the feeling of utter disbelief, how something that started out so simple, so easy to treat, so easy to diagnose resulted in William losing his life. It’s incomprehensible. An investigation is already underway into his care, those directly involved will have to answer questions at the inquest but it doesn’t change things, it’s not good enough, it’s not acceptable, it doesn’t bring William back. I will be in pain for the rest of my life, there will always be a huge hole, something missing but that is nothing, nothing compared to my little boy losing his life, losing his future, losing our dreams. All taken away. There are no sufficient words to explain how I feel right now. My little boy robbed of his life, and us, robbed of ours.