With fear in my heart, I sit beside my little boy. I hold his small hand in mine.

Enzo won’t feel pain from the lumbar puncture – the experts at Markham Stouffville Hospital have made sure of that – but I worry he will be scared.

I’m scared enough for both of us.

How did we get here? A few days ago, Enzo was a healthy, active six-year-old. Then he had a fall and soon strange symptoms appeared – headache, ear pain, a stiff neck, trouble walking. My normally energetic son had to be carried up the stairs.

I brought Enzo to the Emergency Department at Markham Stouffville Hospital and they immediately jumped into action – performing a CT scan and the lumbar puncture to figure out what was wrong with my son.

I will be forever grateful they took such quick action. You see, Enzo was diagnosed with meningitis. If we had waited even another 12 hours, my sweet little boy could have suffered permanent neurological damage or even worse.

Hearing how sick Enzo was, I would have given anything to switch places with him. From that moment on, I barely left his side. I did my best to keep him calm while inside I was panicking. Would my baby be okay?

The talented doctors and nurses at Markham Stouffville Hospital knew exactly what to do to treat my son. They had already potentially saved his life and now they were going to make him better.

I can never say thank you enough. My community hospital was there for my family in our time of urgent need.

My son spent 12 days in Markham Stouffville Hospital, much of that time in an isolation room. Every night, I slept beside him, comforted by the knowledge he was receiving the very best care, but I was scared.

The nurses became Enzo’s friends. He loved their warm smiles, gentle touches and the way they treated him like a person.

When you’re in a situation like this, it’s so important to have a hospital nearby. My family could visit us easily, which couldn’t have happened if Enzo was in a downtown Toronto hospital. It meant so much to have their support each day.

Today, Enzo is doing fantastic. He’s back to his energetic self, wrestling with his brother and racing me to the bus stop. But I don’t take his health for granted. I feel gratitude in my heart every single day and especially at this time of year.