Hannah Shelton

Meningococcal disease at 20

Meningococcal disease

Last summer, after celebrating my 19th birthday on the Saturday night, I woke the next morning feeling generally ill and a little hung over. It was a beautiful, hot and sunny day yet I became increasingly colder and shivery. Thinking I just had a bit of sun stroke and too much to drink the night before, I went home to bed to try and sleep it off.

I woke in the early hours of Monday morning vomiting, sweating, being sensitive to the light, having a stiff neck and last of all, the rash appeared over my body. Luckily my mother is a nurse and recognised the symptoms of meningitis. She carried out the glass test to find the rash wasn’t blanching.

I was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich hospital with suspected meningitis, where I stayed in isolation for ten days. I had IV antibiotics, scans, blood tests and a lumbar puncture to diagnose the disease. I had contracted meningococcal septicaemia.

During my time in hospital, I thought myself extremely lucky to be alive. I was totally unaware of meningitis, what it was and how it spreads so quickly. As were my friends who also thought it may have just been flu or a hangover. The first few days were such a blur and I was in bed for days, as well as losing weight due to not eating.

Luckily, the only after effects I had were, at the time, severe headaches for around a week after having a lumbar puncture. Continuing problems now are memory loss, forgetfulness and generally being a bit dopier. I feel so fortunate not to have had any amputations, brain damage or any type of disability due to the disease which causes life changing effects.

I have joined as a Meningitis Research Foundation member as I am much more aware of signs and symptoms of meningitis. I want to help back campaigns, petitions and undertake volunteering at events wherever and whenever possible as MRF is close to my heart now. They were so helpful when I was recovering at home, sending useful information and giving advice to myself and my family. Now I’d like to give something back.