Elizabeth Granz

Rarer types of meningitis at 44

Rarer types of meningitis

I'm a 44 yr. old woman and I've had viral meningitis twice.

The first time was in 2001. I was 32. It started with a headache that, very quickly progressed in intensity. The first night, I eventually ended up with a mild fever and I assumed I had the flu. The second day, both the fever and the headache got markedly worse and that night I started to vomit. By the third day, the headache and vomiting were so bad, I knew I had to go in to urgent care. I can't even describe how bad that headache was. I was also extremely photosensitive by that time. When I was at the clinic, I had to plead with them to turn off the lights in the room. At urgent care, they were alarmed enough by my symptoms that they called for an ambulance to take me to the ER. At the ER they performed a lumbar punch, which showed that it was meningitis. I remember that my head hurt so bad that I didn't even notice the pain of the spinal tap (of which I've heard is extremely painful). Of course, at first, they had to assume it was bacterial and took the precautions by wearing masks and gloves.

I don't remember how long it took for the results to come back, but it must've been sometime later that day when they informed me that the meningitis was viral caused from the Herpes Simplex-Type 2 Virus (HSV-2). This was the first time I learned that I had herpes. They started me on a course of IV anti-viral meds and treated my head pain with a very strong IV painkiller (I think it was dilaudid) and, most likely some sort of anti-emetic. The painkiller barely touched my pain and I've never vomited so much in all my life. The doctor told me that if I had waited 1 more day, it could've likely developed into encephalitis.

I was hospitalized and treated for 14 days and it took, probably, another 2 weeks before I felt somewhat back to normal. It was insane how much weight I had lost on such a short period. They never told me (and I never imagined) that this could happen again.

One night, exactly 10 yrs. later, in 2011, I got a headache. It was only after about 4 hrs, with the headache progressing in intensity, that I feared it was meningitis. The next morning, I went to the ER and, sure enough, it was viral meningitis. This time, because I went to the ER much sooner, the severity wasn't nearly as bad as the 1st time, so the vomiting and fever didn't get as bad but the headache was just as bad. Same course of treatment (for a total of 8 days) as the 1st time but this time, I started having extremely real-like auditory hallucinations. They were concerned about cognitive issues and did some neurological tests but didn't seem to find any other issues and the hallucinations went away after a few days. The scariest thing about this bout of meningitis was that the IV antiviral drugs caused me to have acute renal failure. Luckily they caught this in time and were able to reverse this with no lasting effects (that I know of).

I'm pretty certain that the recurrent meningitis has caused some memory loss and possibly other issues such as concentration problems and learning disabilities. I found this website because I've had an almost constant, horrible headache for the last 7 days and wondered if its possible to have a much milder case of meningitis. I was surprised to learn that it is and wonder if I've had recurrences more than the 2 times where I was hospitalized. Since the last time, I live in fear of it happening again.