Danielle Hull

Meningococcal disease at 17

Meningococcal disease

I had a cold for about a week, it was just the usual type of cold – runny nose, chesty cough, feeling tired and headaches. I was 17 and had just begun my AS level exams.

Soon after my first exam I began to feel a lot better. However I woke up the following Friday morning feeling a lot worse. I felt very shivery and really tired. My body felt as if it ached everywhere.

Trying to ignore my symptoms, as I had some serious revision to be getting on with, I more or less dragged myself to the shower. It was not until after my shower that I noticed some strange marks on the back of my leg. They were dark red/purple in colour. I had heard of meningitis but nothing more and I didn't make the connection.

I went downstairs and mentioned that I wasn't feeling well to my Mum. I then just went to lie down on the sofa as my head was pounding. My Mum came and checked on me a few minutes later and started asking me how I felt etc. As soon as I mentioned the rash though, she went into overdrive, rushing to get a glass and rolling it over my skin. My headache was so bad by now I couldn't bear to open my eyes. My Mum rang the doctors and they told her to bring me to the surgery immediately.

On arrival, I was checked over by the doctor, who then rang an ambulance. I was given a penicillin injection there and then. I was feeling really drowsy by now, and the next few hours passed in a blur.

I was taken by ambulance to Norfolk and Norwich hospital and on the way I was given oxygen and my blood pressure was monitored.

When I arrived I was put in a side room in the emergency medical assessment unit and underwent what seemed like endless tests: blood samples, CT scans, lumbar punctures, and by this time, the rash had spread.

I can't really remember very much of my first few days in hospital; I was treated with intravenous antibiotics several times a day for two weeks for suspected meningococcal meningitis (which was confirmed several days after I began treatment). I got out of hospital the day after my last exam.

After my time in hospital I was left very weak, I had lost a lot of weight – over a stone – and I had to attend several check-ups. I missed nearly all of my exams, my eyesight was damaged and I have a scar on my leg, but other than that I have made a full recovery and I feel very very lucky.

JANUARY 2010