As you are reading this it’s world meningitis day. It’s such an important day for so many people all over the world, but possibly more pertinent for myself and my family because i suffered with meningococcal septicemia which is a variation of meningitis in 2008, 10 years ago WOW!!
for more information https://www.meningitisnow.org
warning graphic content ahead
The day after boxing day I hit the sales with my mum and shopped till my fingers were sore. I did notice that my arms were really sore too, but just thought it was from all the bargains. We headed home for a christmas leftovers dinner which was so good. Yet it didn’t last and I met my dinner again, i was whisked to bed to rest and it all went down from there. Being 14 meant that i knew something was wrong even in my sleep, I woke up to tell my parents across the hall that i wasn’t right. I was hallucinating and didn’t understand where I was. I got out of bed and crawled to my door to try and get my parents attention but could reach up to the handle so got back into bed.
My mum said she found my propped against the window fitting, she pulled me onto the floor where i proceeded to me sick all over the new carpet. Mum noticed the faintest of marks on my skin and just knew to see if they blanched (disappeared). She tested them and they stayed, it was time to ring the ambulance. My parents kept talking to me to keep me awake. I remember them telling me what I’d like to eat and drink. My response was always a crisp green apple and a glass of water. I felt like i was boiling.
Fast forward to the ambulance arriving, I was whisked to my local hospital and into a side room ASAP, more and more consultants and specialists came in to look at me. My mum being a nurse at the time knew exactly what was going on. Mum Terminator Mode was officially on ( when your mother goes into survival mode, she doesn’t panic she doesn’t stress she is efficient and knows what her job in this is) I was moved very quickly and carefully to Southampton and put in PICU – or paediatric intensive care unit to me and you. I stayed there on cold presses and monitored round the clock until i showed signs of improvement. A few weeks later my breathing tube was taken out next my feeding tube then my central line over the next few days. I started to me able to talk and look around, I was on drips and had as many blood platelets as I could to recover. I still couldn’t move successfully by myself so had people to itch my nose or, move my arm to touch to cold bars of the bed so i could feel the soothing cold of them. I still had a temperature that wouldn’t get under control. A weeks past and I tested sitting up for the first time in almost a month. I had no neck control, my head snapped forward like it was a tone of bricks. But it was a successful venture I had sat up… with 3 people holding me and someone ready to catch me incase if tipped over. I had sat up so it was time to go back to my local hospital. We ambulanced down and arrived into a private room, and quarantined for safety. The doctors worked on getting my temperature down and eradicating the last of the infection. When I was stronger I sat up alot more then moved to sitting in a chair. For only 10 minutes at a time but gradually that time increased. I started physiotherapy and tried walking just around my room at first then into the hall way then into the play room then down the corridor.
I’d ask the physio after each session what would we try and do tomorrow and that night with my mum and dad we’d practice. It was one of the best motivators to recover quickly.
Having not looked in a mirror for a month you forget what you look like, doubled with being so ill when you do see yourself it’s a shock, I was a pale grey yellow with matted bloody hair. There was no life in my skin or hair. I’m grateful that I was alone when I saw myself so i could process what I looked like alone. The best hair wash of my life was next. Having bleed out my nose while in bed the blood had dripped into my hair and dried into my matted curls. My auntie washed my hair for the first time and it was one of the first things that made me feel better about myself.
I had Septecima source on my thighs. The little black scabs you see on people who stuffer from meningococcal septicemia well they can get much bigger and can even lead to limb loss. Some how mine didn’t pass my knees or elbows but the lingered on my thighs and butt for ages and were very deep. I was visited by the tissue viability nurse to help me dress me new wounds. Manuka honey was such a saviour to my legs. Once they had healed Bio oil helped reduce the tightness in the skin of my scars.
It was finally home for me, I was well enough to leave hospital but my temperature was monitored and so were my scars. I got used to being at home, walking up stair brushing my teeth, brushing my hair. Being back in my room where it all started. I went back to school for half days until I had the energy to stay a full day. I slotted back in to school socially very easily, but not into the work I was behind and didn’t have the opportunity to catch up. Teachers didn’t understand why I did have home work, why I couldn’t do PE when i had to stop alot, to think a little longer. Not have an attention span like I used to have was really hard, nothing interested me. Peoples plights of a friend not being nice to their boy friend or what ever just felt petty and nothing to me. I was in a serious bubble where nothing effected me. Smells and songs were a huge distraction and would plant me back in hospital at my lowest point in hospital. Kylie Minogue released a perfume called Show Time, i think and it was my favourite perfume I get mum to spray me with in in hospital all the time. I can’t smell it anymore without getting really sad and anxious. I remember so much of my time in hospital and some of my hallucinations As well as Somewhere Over The Rainbow by IZ, mum and I used to dance in the kitchen to it and we listened to it in hospital together crying. I still can’t listen to any version of it.
Years later I raised money for Meningitis Now by walking 60km well I actually only managed to walk 37.7km I pulled a ligament in my knee so I stopped. I wanted to close of my story with a high and i think I did that. I went through something awful and came out the other side pretty well off, my family where there monitoring me just as much as the Dr’s they kept me entertained, interested.
Please educate yourselves on the signs and speak up if something doesn’t fell right, you know what a cold feels like.
Thank you to my family and the nurses and Drs in Southampton and Poole for all you hard work.
Below are graphic images from my time in Hospital, Caution is advised.
Today change your Facebook profile to the Meningitis Filter, spread your stories or listen to them, create awareness.