Jill Palmer

Pneumococcal meningitis at 65

Pneumococcal meningitis

It was Christmas time 1997 when my husband Stuart and I set off for France to spend Christmas in our out-of-the-way cottage.

We left Friday, driving down to the south, when Stuart started to suffer from earache.  A cold developed and on the Sunday a person we knew who spoke English gave us the name of a doctor, who gave Stuart antibiotics.

On Monday he was fine working away on the garden but in the early hours of Tuesday morning he became delirious. I called the doctor who arrived at 7.30am, who then called the ambulance which took us to Fréjus Hospital, by which time he was unconscious.

I was at that time alone and I stayed in A&E for four hours, not being able to phone anyone as the phones needed a card and the hospital would not give me one.

Stuart was then taken to intensive care and I had a quarter of an hour walk around the hospital to get to a pay phone.

My children arrived that evening and we were then told Stuart had pneumococcal meningitis. The chief consultant stayed with Stuart all the time but he told us on Christmas Day that there was no hope and the life support was switched off.  

The care Stuart had in the hospital was second to none and no-one was allowed in intensive care until we left.  

These events still are very painful to talk about and I was in shock for about two years.  The MRF was so good to me during that time, and I think I now understand how all this came about.  

My son and daughter were very traumatised by all this and as I watch the grandchildren grow up, I am just very sad that three of them did not know Stuart at all, although my granddaughter can just about remember him as 'Bo'.  

My sympathies go to all those affected by this disease and I do hope vaccines can be found soon to eradicate all strains of meningitis.