A FAMILY who faced ‘a rollercoaster’ year after their newborn daughter was diagnosed with meningitis have thanked the ‘extraordinary’ Bicester health visiting team.

It was just three days after welcoming baby Alice McElhill that her parents Ryan McElhill and Sophie Lunn had to save her from choking in her cot.

Miss Lunn, who runs an Early Years first aid course, said they were able to intervene but noticed ‘subtle signs’ the youngster was still not quite right.

She said: “She was jaundice, very floppy and sleepy, she had an unusually dipped-in soft spot, and just didn’t seem quite right.

“Our fears led to us calling an ambulance, where she was admitted to the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital, and soon after diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis.”

Miss Lunn’s health, at the same time, deteriorated and she was admitted to hospital.

She said: “I had a very high fever, felt very unwell, and needed to be quickly transferred to the opposite end of the hospital, where I was treated for Sepsis.”

After one-year-old Alice’s whirlwind welcome to the world, she has since been in hospital a further 12 times with fevers and infections.

Miss Lunn also contracted sepsis again in February, this time threatening her life and she required urgent medical intervention to save her life.

But throughout the entire traumatic period, the family say it was the Central Bicester health visiting team that provided a ‘pillar of strength’, with the team going above and beyond.

The family’s first visit was in June 2017.

Miss Lunn said: “Our start with Alice was far from ordinary, our world as we knew it was turned upside down. From previously having a relatively healthy two year old [first daughter Kate], and a life we considered normal, we were faced with a very serious set of circumstances.

“The feelings associated with experiencing such a trauma are hard to explain and still, 15 months after Alice’s arrival, are very raw.”

She added: “Our unusual circumstances were lucky to be matched with extraordinary support from Central Bicester health visitors.

“They have supported and guided us through the whole experience. It feels like they have lived this journey with us, as a pillar of strength for both me and my family.

“The team has guided us through the behavioural and emotional support needed for our older girl, who witnessed me become unresponsive when I was severely ill.”

Miss Lunn added: “Every visit, message, and intervention enabled us to conquer this frightful experience.

“Health visitors do more than weigh babies, they do more than mark centile charts and tick two year check boxes. For us the impact has been enormous, health visitors are extraordinary.”

Miss Lunn also said the health visitors team run an ‘invaluable’ course for mums who have experienced low mood or anxiety, and said it helped to provide a safe space for practical and emotional support.

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