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Chris Johnston bike ride for Meningitis Trust

Chris In November 2004 my grandson Theo was four months old. He was a happy, healthy child with a bright future. All that changed over the course of a weekend when he was diagnosed with Meningitis. It was at first misdiagnosed as is too often the case and by the time the hospital realised what it was he had suffered massive brain damage. It is hard to imagine the impact that this has on a family.  The grief, the guilt, the despair the sheer daily grind of caring for a severely disabled child, the frustration of dealing with the social services, the countless hospital appointments at five different hospitals, the surgery for cochlear implants, the realisation that life is never going to be the same again and the worry of what will happen to and who will care for Theo as he gets older. Theo is unlikely to ever be able to talk or walk, communication is largely by guesswork, he is seven this month and big and strong it now takes two people to move him. Thankfully he is still a happy soul and has a sense of humour; he enjoys his bike, horse riding, school and being with people.

Meningitis affects mainly young children, but it can strike anyone at any age and can kill or maim in hours. It can be caused by bacteria or virus, bacterial meningitis is generally the more serious. There is a vaccine for Pneumococcal Meningitis now which was not available in this country at the time Theo was born and more vaccines are being developed to prevent other strains but there is a long way to go before this disease can be prevented and so each year people’s lives are devastated by the effects of this terrible disease.  The Meningitis Trust offers support in many ways to those affected by the illness.  They have a 24 hour nurse led helpline for those worried about a possible case, they offer counselling and support to those affected by the illness and to their families. They offer financial grants to enable special equipment to be provided for victims. The everyday things of life are so much more expensive when adapted for the disabled; Theo’s tricycle cost £700 which the trust paid for and they have just awarded Jo a grant to help pay for his Riding for the Disabled. The Trust also provides education in the form of talks, information leaflets and symptom cards. If anyone wants leaflets or cards to give out in their classes please contact me and I can arrange it.  The big message is DON’T WAIT FOR THE RASH.  Most people now are aware of the rash that doesn’t go away when you run a glass over it but the rash only occurs when meningococcal septicaemia sets in, Theo never had a rash.

In September Chris Johnston is doing a sponsored cycle ride from London to Paris in aid of the Meningitis Trust.  Chris has been raising funds for the Trust in different ways since Theo’s illness but this is her biggest challenge yet and I would urge you to support her with any amount that you feel able to give and perhaps send healing thoughts for the inevitable saddle soreness!  Thank you Chris for your efforts!

If you need further information about Meningitis or want leaflets/symptom cards for your classes I can be contacted at [email protected]

Sue Bradley