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meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

People who are faced with meningitis and septicaemia have to act fast to help save a life.

Felicity Annika Lamburn

Meningococcal disease at 21

Meningococcal disease

I was seventeen years of age when I contracted meningococcal septicaemia in February 2006.

I went to school that day as normal feeling fine like any other day. Around lunchtime, me and my friends were watching the school dance competition. I started to feel a little dizzy and light headed, and put it down to the start of the flu. I rang my mum and asked her to pick me up from school.

When I got home, I got straight into bed and took some painkillers. After a while, I noticed just how cold I was. My mum even put two duvets on me, and I was still shivering! I tried to go to sleep but then I felt sick. It go to the stage where I couldn't stop throwing up. I was left on my own whilst my family were visiting my Great Gran in hospital. I rushed to the bathroom to be sick, but felt very weak and achey all over, causing me to fall to the floor, unable to get back up. I had lost all my strength by now. I was on the floor for way over an hour before my family found me. My parents picked me up and lay me on the bed. This is when my Mum noticed the rash (it was very familiar to her as she had found it with my brother Jake two years prior!). My Mum did the glass test but the rash did not disappear. By this time, I was very weak and could hardly stand up. I felt very poorly.

My Dad called an ambulance straight away, however we were soon failed by the NHS. We had a call back to tell us there were no ambulances available, and that we either had to wait or my parents could drive me to A&E. My Mum knew we could not wait with suspected meningitis, as time is everything.

On the way to the hospital, my vision became completely blurred and I started to talk jibberish. I went straight through to A&E, and drugs were pumped into me right away! I was sent for numerous scans, x-rays and had lots of blood tests. By this point, I was finding it hard to breathe so was given oxygen to help. Shortly after, I was moved to the Medical Assessment Unit where I awaited the results of my tests.

I was feeling very scared at this point and was still being violently sick. The doctors decided to carry out a lumbar puncture, which involved drawing fluid from the spinal cord. However, I was in too much pain and they decided to stop. I was moved to a side room for a short while and this is when it was confirmed I had meningitis.

I was quickly rushed to the Intensive Care Unit wired up from head to toe. I had a tube inserted into my neck, pelvis and hand. I was still being sick. I was extremely poorly on the first night. My blood pressure became dangerously low, and they gave me a 50% chance of survival. I was given £24,000 worth of life-saving drugs that night which saved my life.

The second day I was still very poorly. A tube was inserted into my nose and down into my stomach which the nurses could drain whenever I felt the need to be sick. This was extremely painful and quite uncomfortable. I never lost consciousness, but was drifting in and out most days as the meningitis began to affect the lining of my brain.

I was kept under observation 24 hours a day. I had an ultrasound to check vital organs which showed that my lungs were very cloudy. I had a scan to check my lungs more closely. The doctors concluded I also had pneumonia (this was the second time I'd had it!). I felt weak all over, if anyone slightly touched the bed, I would cry out with the pain.

I was kept on ICU for 6 nights, before being moved to the High Dependency Unit. I was still very ill, however each day got a little bit easier. After 2 days, I was transferred to a normal ward (too soon considering how poorly I'd been!). The physio's came to see me and gave me bed exercises to do to help me in the process of walking again. I had to use a frame for a bit, and take small steps. The more I did it, the more I walked a bit further. I had my bloods taken a lot of times to check whether my blood was returning to normal. When they were happy with them, I was allowed home.

I had about 6 weeks off school ( I probably needed more), but I had my A-levels coming up. I was still feeling weak, but managed to go to school.

I suffered from a lack of concentration in the first few months of recovery, which I noticed in my first few weeks at University. I had some physical scarring on my arms and legs, but they are almost gone now. I also tend to talk in my sleep which I did not do before I was ill, reflecting the severity of my brain being affected.

I was lucky to not have had any amputations, with the severity of the blood poisoning I suffered. I went for a final check up at the hospital which showed my lungs had cleared and my bloods were finally back to normal. I would say it affected me in a huge way, but in a positive way. I plan to study children's nursing next year as I want to offer something back. I am extremely lucky to be here today and cannot thank the doctors and nurses enough for saying my life.

I am a member of the Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Trust and in 2007 took part in the 'Five Valleys Walk' raising over £100. I regularly buy Christmas cards in aid of the charity and receive the newsletter every month.
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