Donate online today. €375 funds the helpline for half a day

meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

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

Heather Kettle

Meningococcal disease at 30

Meningococcal disease

I was 13 when I suddenly became very ill, very quickly.

Myself and my older brother were staying at my grandparents whilst my parents were away for the weekend. I came down with a really bad cold on the Friday and thought nothing of it.

Most of Saturday I was ok, but come the evening I started throwing up constantly, all night. I managed to get some sleep and in the morning my grandma came in to check I was ok, she opened the curtains and I screamed - the pain from the light was the worst pain I have known.

This was in 1995 and my parents didn't have mobiles, so my grandparents were unable to ring them. But knowing they were going to be home in a couple of hours I stayed in bed in the dark drifting off to sleep. My grandparents kept ringing my parents to get them to come to get me ASAP.

As soon as my parents arrived my mum looked at me and instantly knew by my rash (which neither me nor my grandparents had noticed) that I had meningitis. My mum knew this as my brother had meningitis when he was six months old, so the symptoms were recognised instantly.

They rang for the doctors and took me home, the doctor arrived and agreed with my mum, he gave me an injection of something but by this point I was drifting in and out of consciousness.

The doctor told my parents to take me straight to hospital and not to wait for an ambulance and that he would ring ahead. I arrived at the hospital and I remember very little of my first 24 hours in intensive care. After that I remember everything, when I came to I saw my rash all over my body. Over a few days parts of this blistered which then popped! I had to stay in hospital for two weeks in isolation but after that I was able to go home.

Thankfully I have fully recovered and all I have are four scars from my blisters which burst but I am so thankfully to still be here. If it wasn't for the fast thinking of my parents and my doctor I might not be here at all.

I am told it is very rare for two children in the same family to have meningitis especially when my brother is six years older than me; my brother has been left with learning difficulties due to having the illness and a complication whilst he was in hospital but he is here which is more important.

I am so thankful we are here and every time I hear the word it takes me back and fills me with sadness.

Need Support? Find out more about our helpline services

Tell your story

Help raise awareness, share your story in the Book of Experience

Meet us on Facebook Meet us on Facebook